Toastmasters International has over 350,000 members worldwide and has been around for ages. Why? The educational program works. Rather than focussing on endless theory and book learning, members engage in highly participative learning that involves regularly giving speeches and taking on a variety of leadership roles during meetings. Why is it, then, that the program works for some yet not for others? Here are some observations.
1. Infrequent attendance
If you don’t come, you can’t improve. When members don’t come to meetings regularly, they aren’t getting on stage and practicing public speaking. Public speaking is a bit like swimming: you’ve got to do it to get comfortable and competent doing it.
Solution: Attend regularly and participate. Remember: to be invited to do roles and speeches you need to let us know you are coming by responding to the attendance emails sent by the vice president of education (VPE).
2. Waiting too long between speeches
Waiting too long kills momentum. When members complete a speech, there is a big opportunity to build momentum by booking in the next speech and taking action immediately on the feedback whilst it’s still fresh. Left too long, however, and that momentum dies, the feedback is forgotten, and it becomes easy to procrastinate on starting that next speech.
Solution: Always have a date for your next speech booked in with the VPE. Contact the VPE so they can give you a slot, and then begin preparing as soon as possible so you can actually deliver your speech on that date.
3. Not taking action on feedback
Bad speaking habits need to be actively addressed. You might have noticed speakers can continue to exhibit the same bad speaking habits no matter how often they attend or how often they have been advised of it when evaluated.
Solution: If you have been offered a piece of developmental feedback, actively identify and implement strategies to take corrective action. They won’t go away unless tackled head-on! Get advice from your mentor or fellow members.
4. Procrastination in preparation
Preparing for speeches often brings out our most unhelpful procrastination behaviours. The result? Our preparation is inadequate and our speech is well below our potential. Leaving preparation to the last minute also precludes mentors from helping.
Solution: aim to get your speech ready well in advance of your designated speech date so you can adequately refine it, rehearse it, and also give your mentor a chance to help you with it
5. Not working with your mentor
If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Club mentors are willing to volunteer time out of their busy schedules to help their mentees, but the onus is on the mentee to ask! Not using your mentor means progress will be slower.
Solution: Be proactive! Contact your mentor in a respectful and considerate way for support. Be responsive to messages from your mentor. Expecting help at the eleventh hour due to late preparation is not the way to go, so plan your preparation so that getting your mentor’s help is part of the prep schedule!
You’ve paid your dues – so make the most of your membership!
You joined the club because you want to become a better public speaker. Follow these steps to take full advantage of the great educational program and support system at Spa Speaker. Help us help you become the speaker you want to be!
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