Bottom Line — Speaking and presenting is an underrated skill. Toastmasters is a cheap and effective way to work on it. It will greatly enhance your other skills.
Is this some sort of a wine tasting organization? Not quite — Toastmasters does strive to improve your impromptu toasting skills at a wedding should you need it. It is more than that though.
What is it?
Toastmasters is an international organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. With close to 300,000 members worldwide, it is much more than just a passing fad. If you live within a 50 mile radius of a town that has a Walmart, I’m almost positive that you’ll have an active toastmasters club near you.
So, how did I get involved with this organization? After reading and listening to several audiobooks of people I admire such as Les Brown and Jim Rohn, I noticed that they would mention Toastmasters. I went online, and found a club near me.
What I got out of it
I dropped by the first meeting to check out a local toastmasters club called Parker Toastmasters. The speakers were interesting, and their evaluators useful in their critique. Most importantly, the members of this club ranged from novices to suave speakers. Since I enjoyed teaching labs, and presenting materials at my University, I figure I’d join this club and give it a shot.
It has been a year since I’ve been a part of it. I’m almost done with my competent communicator manual (10 speeches). Here’s the gist of the club: You work through manuals that continue to challenge you and stretch your comfort level with every speech. You get to decide the topics you’ll be speaking on. Not only do you sign up to speak in front of your peers, but you can also take the role of an evaluator. As an evaluator, you have a chance to hone the greatest skill of all: Listening.
Within the year, you’ll have a chance to participate in contests, local and national, if you decide to compete.
Thus far, I’ve enjoyed Toastmasters. I’ve met sociable people from different backgrounds, and each time, there is something new to learn. We meet for an hour once every week, and your commitment and growth is in your hands. Pull the trigger?
Well, you’re probably wondering, how much does it cost? The costs depend on different clubs, but a good ballpark figure is about $50 per half year. This is the cost for materials, and club expenses. Not too bad.
Whether you’re a confident person who likes to talk or encourage others, Toastmasters would probably work for honing your skills. If you’re a nervous wreck in the spotlight, Toastmasters would most likely work for you as well. In the end, your success is up to you.