If you are in customer service in any capacity, you can benefit from learning to develop or enhance your speaking skills.
If you are an employer, your business might benefit from allowing/encouraging your staff to attend weekly meetings where they will have the opportunity to learn and practice some of the following: how to organize their thoughts, get to the point and how to deliver effective communication.
Often you may be called upon at the last minute to give a presentation or a talk on something you’ve been working on, or something for a newII client. You begin to panic. Toastmasters can help you think on your feet and be well organized so that this will become easy for you.
Communication is a two-way conversation and it involves more than just talking. It also involves shutting up (aka listening). You will often hear people say, “I have no problem talking”, and those around them are well aware of that. These people may have a problem letting other people talk.
How many times have you been at a meeting where the person is supposed to speak only for 5 minutes and 15 minutes later they are still at it? At Toastmasters you learn how to craft a speech to fit within a specified time frame. Lights or cards are used to let you know the timing of your speech.
Listening skills are an important part of communication. It is important to listen well enough so that you really “hear” what the other person is saying. At our weekly meetings the Quizmaster tests the listening skills of the group by asking questions about things that went on during the meeting.
Leadership skills – are developed as members take on roles such as Toastmaster, Table Topics Master, Timer, Quizmaster, General Evaluator and others. Each person takes control of the lectern for their role and you have a chance to earn the Competent Leader award as you work through various roles such as: Speaker, Speech Evaluator, Timer, Grammarian, Ah Counter, Toastmaster, Mentoring a New or Existing Member, etc.
Do you have to evaluate people for yearly Performance Appraisals? It is important to learn how to correctly evaluate someone so that they learn about the things they need to improve while being recognized for the things that they already do well. If all they hear is criticism, they don’t feel very good about themselves.
One of the biggest challenges of a leader is to be able to give feedback to others on their performance. Feedback involves praising others to reinforce their outstanding performance and offering suggestions to improve their performance. Often leaders are uncomfortable giving feedback.
If team members are to perform to their potential, they need to know what they are doing well, what they are not doing well, and how they can improve. If you want to improve your team’s performance, you must be able to comfortably offer feedback to team members. Toastmasters teaches the “sandwich technique” for evaluations. Start with something positive, insert the message about things that could be improved and end with a positive comment. Come to a meeting and find out more.
Have you ever listened to a boring lecture where the person just drones on and on with no variety or depth to their voice? It’s enough to put you to sleep. Speech #6 will help you learn how to effectively use your voice for the highs and lows to keep people’s attention, (be expressive, use pauses for effectiveness, control your volume, pitch, rate and quality). Keep your conversations lively and worth listening to.
Body language – Your body often speaks louder than your actual words and people “read” what you are saying by the way you say it. Learn how to use gestures and eye contact to keep the audience watching and listening. Project Speech #5 – “Your Body Speaks” gives tips on how to use stance and movement, gestures, facial expression and eye contact naturally to enhance your communication.
Research techniques are developed as you prepare for your roles. If you are providing the word of the week, you will research the word to find out where it came from and what it means. If you are giving the Toast, you may want to look up more information on the weekly theme. If you are giving an Educational Tip, you will want to research your topic and prepare. Speech #7 from the Competent Communicator Manual gives you tips and ideas on how to research your topic to get the facts you need to support your message.
I hope this article has intrigued you and that you will consider joining us. Toastmasters is an international non-profit club run by volunteers to improve our public speaking ability by speaking regularly in a supportive environment with a solid program and helpful feedback.
Anyone over 18 who is interested in public speaking can join. Clubs have a great mix of experienced and beginning speakers, young and old. We believe that a diverse club offers the best learning opportunities.
Have a wonderful day.