What Toastmasters Can Do For You

by John Ubele, CC

Sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we need to give a speech. Since most of us are not experienced speakers we find the prospect of having to speak before a group frightening. How does one go about becoming a better speaker? There have been many books written on public speaking and there are college classes available but neither of these will help you with developing your speaking skills as much as Toastmasters can.

Toastmasters International has been around for more than 80 years and has over 200,000 members in 11,700+ clubs in 92 countries around the world. The organization’s primary purpose is to help people become better communicators. They do this through a variety of activities by showing members how to improve their speaking abilities. More importantly they teach people how to get over their stage fright.

Local Toastmasters clubs hold meetings several times a month. The meetings provide members a forum to practice public speaking. At the meetings you’ll find fellow Toastmasters who will guide you through a process to help you improve your speaking skills.

There are four main activities at each Toastmasters meeting. They are Table Topics, Speeches, Evaluations and Awards.

Table Topics: A Table Topics Master creates questions and fires them randomly at members. The members respond to the questions by giving one to two minute long impromptu speeches. This activity forces the members to think on their feet and to respond to questions quickly.

Speeches: Typically there are at least two speeches given at each meeting. Most speeches run from five to seven minutes long. Usually the speeches are projects taken from the Toastmaster manuals. Each speech project from the manual centers on different aspects of giving speeches. For example projects may focus on vocal projection, body language, speech organization, or other elements of speech giving.

Evaluations: Each speech is evaluated by an Evaluator. The Evaluator’s job is to pay very close attention to the speaker and to give positive and negative feedback about the speaker’s speech. This is one of the most helpful activities for speakers because the evaluation helps the speaker focus on improving the things that need to be worked on.

Awards: At the end of the meeting awards are given out to the best table topics speaker, the best speaker and the best evaluator.

The meetings provide an excellent opportunity to develop your speaking abilities. I’ve attended many of them and I can say that not only did I enjoy them but I always learned something new at each meeting which helped me refine my speaking skills.

My membership with the organization began at the end of 2007 and since that time I have delivered over 10 speeches in my local club, along with participating a few dozen times in Table Topics and I have also given several speech evaluations. I highly recommend Toastmasters to anyone who wants to become a better communicator. The fees to join are very reasonable because they breakdown to less than $100 a year and I can promise you that you will get more than your money’s worth if you regularly attend meetings and participate in club activities.

Like every other activity in life you get out of it what you put into it. So the key is to attend as many Toastmaster meetings as possible to get through as many speeches as you can so that you’ll be able to advance through the communication levels. Toastmasters can do a lot for you, but you have to take the first step by attending a local club meeting.

For more information please visit www.toastmasters.org.

Bookmark and Share