A Toastmasters Primer

A Toastmasters PrimerOkay, so you want to learn about Toastmasters but feel overwhelmed with all the information out there. Well, here’s a cheat sheet to help you learn what you need to know about this member-run organization.


History:

Clubs:

  • Clubs are local chapters of Toastmasters. Each club elects officers, sets dues and decides on meeting times and locations.
  • You can belong to as many clubs as you’d like to join.

How to Dress For a Toastmasters Meeting

How to Dress For a Toastmasters MeetingI’m always getting asked questions about Toastmasters. Some are a little crazy – are there many single men in your club? Others are amusing – what does Toastmasters have to do with making toast? The most common question I’m asked is which club to join. However, I was recently asked an interesting question: how should I dress when visiting a club?

Every club is different, so it really depends on the club. Community clubs meeting at night or on the weekends might be casual, while corporate clubs might require a more formal dress. So here are some tips:

How I Got Interested in Public Speaking

How I Got Interested in Public SpeakingWhen I tell people that one of the things I teach is public speaking, the first thing they typically ask is why. Most of the time, they really mean that they wonder why someone would get interested in that particular topic. So as I explain that I actually get a rush from doing something that most people avoid like the plague, the questions become more serious and I’m asked what interested me in public speaking to begin with and how I got to where I am today.

As a kid, I always enjoyed making people smile and I still feel the same way today. In fact, I’ll often go out of my way to get a laugh out of someone, even if I have to make myself look foolish in the process. When I was in my pre-teen years, I had dreamed of becoming an actor. I tried to convince my parents to move across the country to California so I could become one. That didn’t quite work out so I found other outlets for my creativity. In high school, it was sports.

What I Hate About Toastmasters – A Toastmasters Review

What I Hate About Toastmasters - A Toastmasters ReviewIt seems that whenever the topic of public speaking comes up, the topic of Toastmasters often follows. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a few weeks, then you probably know my position on Toastmasters: I recommend it, but only if you choose the right club. This review will take a look at some of the areas where things could be better.

Through the years I’ve come into contact with thousands of people who have been involved with Toastmasters. Some only attended a single meeting as a guest while others have become International Directors. While the feelings towards this organization vary, most people love it and a few hate it. Personally, I have mostly positive feelings and experiences that I’ve accumulated over my four years as a member, but I also had a few not so good experiences as well. So when someone who had mostly negative experiences with it challenged me to write about the not so good things, I figured it would be an interesting challenge. His exact request was “tell me about some of the things you hate about Toastmasters.” Of course, I don’t hate per say anything about Toastmasters, so I’ve listed the things that peeve me the most. Additionally, I’ve include how to avoid or remedy the situations.

Why People Fail

Why People FailI’ve never been a big fan of “date” movies — romantic comedies where you know the guy and the girl are going to get together at the end, but not sure exactly how they’ll get through the mess created during the first twenty minutes of the film. With these types of films, part of the plot line usually has to do with a guy who’s afraid of commitment.

I usually get frustrated with this plot line – the gal should just move on (or to make it a movie more to my liking, blow up his car while he’s driving away). But no, it gets drawn out for 90+ minutes and somehow the guy sees the err in his ways and decides that he was wrong to not commit in the first place and spend the second half of the movie trying to correct the situation. In most cases, there’s a happy ending but not always. But what’s interesting is that fear or lack of commitment happens a lot in real life and the results are often not a happy ending.

Ten Things I Learned About Speaking Beyond Toastmasters

Ten Things I Learned About Speaking Beyond ToastmastersI’m frequently invited to speak at Toastmasters clubs about how to speak beyond Toastmasters. Last year, I gave a presentation at a District Conference on this topic and was excited about how much interest there was in learning more about it. It’s just a natural progression — once you’ve peaked in Toastmasters, you feel ready to go out and use these skills that you’ve mastered.

So here are the top then things I’ve learned about speaking beyond Toastmasters:

  1. Ums and ahs don’t really matter unless they are excessive.
  2. Going over your allotted time can quickly turn your audience against you.

Transitioning From Toastmaster to Professional Speaker

Transitioning From Toastmaster to Professional SpeakerI’ve had a number of people ask me lately about how to go from a Toastmaster to someone who makes money speaking. Many of these people want to speak on their area of expertise while others are looking to speak about speaking. Those in the former have it a little easier because the key there is to just continue to develop your expertise while you graduate as a speaker to different audiences. Those in the latter have a more challenging road ahead because speaking to a Toastmasters audience is significantly different than speaking to other audiences — a fact which is often overlooked when speaking about Toastmaster-related topics. So I’m going to focus on the latter group for this article, but the former will definitely get some benefit from this too.