In part one of this article, we talked mainly about the opportunities that exist within your own Toastmasters club to push yourself as a speaker. Most people that join Toastmasters don’t venture beyond their clubs, so they’re missing a whole new world of opportunity in Toastmasters for improving their speaking skills.
So here are some ways to flex those speaking muscles outside of your home club:
6. Visit other clubs
Speaking at other clubs is surprisingly more difficult than you might expect. I realized this back in 2003 when I was President of my club and visited a friend at another club. I had given 15 speeches at the time and was used to doing the President’s welcome at my club, so I never felt nervous speaking at my club. But when I got up to do table topics at this new club, I actually felt a little nervous. The room was set up differently, there were new faces and even the lighting was much different.
Speaking to the same group week after week (or month after month) gets you used to that group. So shock your speaking muscles by visiting another club and participating in the meeting.
7. Be a contest master for a speech contest
While you can do this for your own club, it’s even more effective when you do it at the area level or higher. This role requires you to follow some strict rules when it comes to introducing speakers —more so than the Toastmaster of the day at your club. But you also get to do something that is both fun and different which is interview the speakers while the judges are tallying up their scores. These skills are different from table topics and call also help you with job interviewing and if you have the desire to be a reporter.
8. Be an area governor or other district officer.
Being a district officer helps you in a number of ways. First, it does create a perception that you’re a good speaker and experienced Toastmaster (otherwise you wouldn’t be in that position) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how closely people pay attention to what you say. But it does a lot more than building your confidence as it forces you to do things like visit (and speak at) other clubs as well as district meetings and events. Again, different crowd and different topics work those speaking muscles in new ways.
9. Give a TLI session
This is a great opportunity to take your speaking to the next level because you’re actually conducting a training session. This means that you need to transfer useful knowledge to your audience — so you can’t take the easy route and just share a story, unless there’s a lesson in it. Since these sessions are primarily officer training, you’ll need to make sure that you’re well versed in the role you’re talking about as you’ll be required to think on your feet for the Q&A session at the end. This is a great way to bring your speaking to the next level.
10. Present at a district conference.
This is what I believe to be the best opportunity for a speaker to grow within Toastmasters. It’s the closest you can get within Toastmasters to giving a speech as a professional speaker – many professional speakers present at district conferences — so if you’re considering that route, you should definitely try this. While some people limit themselves to Toastmaster topics (“How to be the best ah counter,” etc…), many people use this opportunity to give a speech on a topic that’s of interest to members of Toastmasters. You might even get lucky and have someone in the audience actually offer to pay you to give your speech at their event.
So these are just some of the ways you can take your speeches to the next level within the Toastmasters organization. Of course speaking outside of Toastmasters is a whole new ballgame. But that’s another topic for another day.