WIIFM - Why Bother With Public Speaking?
Because you don't know yourself as much as you think you do.
The most important thing you can learn in any creative program is Thought Development.
When you create, you express yourself and learn how you actually feel about various topics in the world. In doing so, you learn how to organize your thoughts, and how to present it to someone so that it can be accepted.
This skill is indispensable, no matter what you do in your life.
Toastmasters is an experiential learning program - you learn by doing, and you'll be doing a lot. In all your efforts in Toastmasters, you will learn Thought Development. The scope of Toastmasters can be broken down into the following:
Thought development via Toastmasters can be separated into the following categories:
- Speaking: You'll learn a number of types of speaking, including prepared speeches of all lengths, as well as impromptu speaking.
- Evaluation: You'll learn how to give feedback properly in a way that is both easy and helpful to the listener.
- Mentoring and Coaching: Performing is one thing. Teaching others to perform is an entirely different art, with far more fulfillment. You'll learn that too.
- Networking: As you attend your club meetings, and eventually other clubs and bigger events such as meets and conferences, you will have the opportunity to build robust circles of friends from different backgrounds. And if you're resourceful enough, you will find many, many business opportunities through these circles.
- Fun: This is an under-appreciated but vitally important aspect of personal development. If you're not having fun at Toastmasters, something is seriously wrong in your Toastmasters club.
Keep reading to learn more.
No matter what you do, where you live, where you work, and how you decide to shape your life, you have to work with people. Unless you're taking the extreme route of disappearing into a forest and living off the land, people are going to be a part of your life.
Learning how to communicate with those people is crucial.
In Toastmasters, you'll begin speaking within a club. At a club, you'll likely begin either with an icebreaker speech, introducing yourself to a club, or as a Table Topic (impromptu) speaker, or as a roletaker in the meeting such as a Timer, Ah-counter, or Grammarian.
Learning all those meeting roles and discovering your style and skill will be your primary objective.
As you grow more experienced, you will begin evaluation (see below) and build expertise. Eventually, you will start giving longer speeches and training.
Your club might also encourage you to visit other clubs and speak.
Speaking to develop your thought is one side of the coin. Learning to listen is the other. Toastmasters has a built-in system of speech evaluation, and it requires some serious critical thinking skills to evaluate another person's speech.
There are also auxiliary evaluators, such as a timer, a grammarian, and even an ah-counter who counts the filler sounds used by speakers. So you have a ramp up to learn critical thinking.
You learn how to focus, capture information, and process it to produce a meaningful analysis. Evaluation is my skill of choice in Toastmasters, and the hundreds of evaluations I've done since I joined in 2016 have sharpened my mind no end.
As you become an expert, you will form your own circle of influence where you can guide people and clubs to better performance and self-discovery. Evaluation may be my skill of choice, but my most gratifying experiences have invariably been my mentoring experiences.
Without tooting my own horn too much, I will say that I am thankful for the opportunity to touch the lives of several people and add meaning and joy to them.
Even if you feel like you don't want to mentor others, you can and will find mentors for yourself. Having exposure to experts in the field of communication is a blessing, and will give structure and meaning to your own efforts in thought development.
Even if you don't become a member of Toastmasters, you start by meeting people at a club. A Toastmasters club may have anywhere from 8 to 80 members, and that's a lot of people you can interact, form relationships, and work with. But your club is just the starting point.
Toastmasters as a global community spans 143 countries and 358,000+ members in 2020. Every year, there are hundreds of Toastmasters events where you can meet people from diverse and interesting backgrounds. You will also find people in many different industries, and there are several people who've built their own businesses working with their Toastmasters network.
It's all there, you just have to start looking.
Toastmasters is some of the most fun I've had in my life. By its very nature, Toastmasters is a close community. We encourage a safe space for speakers to learn how to express themselves and challenge themselves.
Toastmasters is fun because it fulfils our deep need for social interaction. Going to events, watching people speak, speaking and organizing events myself - it all lends itself to staying active and alert. It is very gratifying to be appreciated by my seniors, and it has been very gratifying to become a senior and facilitate the same for younger speakers and leaders.