by Brenda Mitchell, NYU Toastmasters President
With the start of the new year, many of us take stock and set new goals. Some of you may be considering joining Toastmasters as part of a commitment to improve your public speaking. Toastmasters is known for its effective program dedicated to improving speaking skills. What you may not realise is that Toastmasters offers much more than speaking instruction and practice. In addition to speaking skills, Toastmasters teaches three things that are keys to success in any environment: leadership, teamwork and feedback.
Be a Leader
Leadership is a much touted skill, but one that is often difficult to teach and practice. When you join Toastmasters you receive not only a Competent Communicator manual with speech guidance and projects, but a Competent Leadership manual with practical instruction, tips, and projects to practice ten components of good leadership. As an all volunteer organization, Toastmasters offers many opportunities to continue developing your leadership skills through serving in various leadership positions. When I joined Toastmasters, I certainly didn’t expect to serve as club president. Taking on the role has provided an opportunity to further develop my leadership skills. You never know where your Toastmasters journey might lead you.
Build a Team
Teamwork is a critical to Toastmasters. As various people fill various roles each week, all meetings require teamwork. No matter how small or large a role, all roles contribute to the success of the meeting. The same holds true of the club and organization. There are many roles to fill giving everyone a chance to practice, develop and perfect various skills. No matter what role you fill, you will be working with others to contribute to the overall success of the meeting, the club and the organization. In this way, each meeting is a new opportunity to practice teamwork.
Give and Receive Feedback
Feedback is another key component of Toastmasters. The organization values the art of giving and receiving constructive feedback and considers such feedback essential to growth and development. It is with this understanding that all members learn the importance of being able to deliver thoughtful, intentional, and specific feedback with the goal of assisting others in their development. All members are also taught to accept feedback gratefully, in the spirit of continued self-awareness and growth. Too often, in our professional and personal lives, we avoid giving honest assessment and feedback to others and are resistant to hearing it about ourselves. Being able to evaluate carefully and critically, as well as being able to receive and integrate thoughtful feedback, are incredibly useful skills that can set you apart from the pack and further improve your leadership.
Are you considering joining Toastmasters to improve your speaking skills? Your speaking skills will improve, and, as a bonus, so will your leadership, teamwork and feedback skills.