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  • Did you know that Toastmasters can help you become an even better leader?
  • What is the Leadership-Toastmasters connection?

I am a recovering workaholic. There might be a 12-step program for my affliction, but I haven’t found it yet. But I told myself that I would not take on new Leadership roles. I have enjoyed leading others and now it’s someone else’s turn. I joined Toastmasters five years ago with that intent. Well, on July 31, I became president of our club.

I joined our club shortly after becoming a certified Life Coach. Although I had plenty of public speaking opportunities in my previous role as a university administrator, I wanted to enhance my skills in delivering different types of speeches. As an administrator, I gave informational and sometimes motivational speeches. Some of my motivational speeches were soul-stirring but others were not as much.

Joining Toastmasters is helping me become more consistent because I can improve my public speaking ability by giving a speech every four to six weeks and observing others. For instance, I get to practice three types of speeches: prepared, extemporaneous, and impromptu.

Everyone knows what a prepared speech is. In Toastmasters, speakers have between one to four weeks to prepare. The speeches are timed; usually 5 to 7 minutes. Another member of the club is assigned to evaluate the speaker. The evaluator employs the guidelines of an extemporaneous speech to provide feedback to the prepared speaker. That is to say, the evaluator takes notes on the speakers’ presentation techniques and with minimal preparation, gives a 2-to-3-minute extemporaneous evaluation. Impromptu speeches differ from extemporaneous speeches because an impromptu speaker isn’t given time to prepare. He or she is given a topic and is required to speak for one to two minutes on it. Impromptu speeches are given in a portion of the meeting called Table Topics.

How can being a Toastmaster help you become a better leader? Toastmasters is about communication: listening and speaking. That is what leaders must do well. Toastmasters will help you become a better speaker, but the serendipitous benefit will be enhancing your ability to listen. Leaders also must give and receive feedback. It will help reduce the anxiety associated with giving and receiving feedback during semi-annual or annual performance appraisal conferences.

I have met many prominent leaders in various professions who were Toastmasters. They tell me about their Toastmasters experiences and how they helped them excel personally and professionally. One former club member was able to secure a position in their chosen field and another earned a promotion.

 How can joining Toastmasters help you? Or help you help others?