Why should I join Toastmasters?

“We are now starting another Public Speaking Toastmasters club in Leeds- White Rose speakers, which is planned to launch on 14th Sep 2011. Why don’t you come along?” I said to my colleague Mark.

“Why should I join a Public Speaking club? It is scary, speaking in public. It seems pointless!” exclaimed my friend Mark.

He was echoing what a research had already found out. Fear of public speaking ranks up there higher than the fear of death. But what I realised from listening to him is the misconception that Public speaking cannot be learned.

“It’s not scary Mark; it’s a skill, like riding a bike. You can become a better speaker with practice. The biggest benefit of learning to speak in public is – you become a better leader and communicator. Becoming a better leader and communicator will lead to better chances of success in the real world”, I said
I could see Mark was interested. However he did not look convinced.

“By the way what is Toastmasters? Is that something where you wear a red coat and learn how to toast?” continued Mark.

“Well Toastmasters International is a non profit organisation devoted to improving its member’s leadership and communication skills. It’s done through meetings where members deliver speeches and the speeches are evaluated by other members. Each meeting consists of members taking on different roles like Toastmaster of the meeting, grammarian, timekeeper etc. It’s fun and supportive. It has nothing to do with Red coats. All our members are normal real people who like to have fun while learning” I explained.

“Well it sounds interesting. You have been a member for some time now, how has it benefited you?” queried Mark

“In my case, I credit my new job to Toastmasters. Within Toastmasters meeting there is a section called as Table topics which helps members develop their impromptu skills. I make it a point to take part in every table topics at my club.

This has helped develop my impromptu skills. During my job interview, I was asked a number of awkward questions, which I could answer with the skills developed through Table Topics. There are other members who have overcome their stammer. Members who have started their own companies because of the skills learnt through Toastmasters meeting. Different members focus on different areas. I initially started out focusing on the communication manuals but am now interested in the leadership area. To become a Distinguished Toastmaster you need to complete both the communication and leadership tracks”

“hmm, you have managed to arouse my curiosity. I will come along to the next meeting. When is it?” asked Mark.

“White Rose Speakers the new club meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month at Jury’s Inn, Brewery Wharf, Leeds at 7:00pm. Leeds City Toastmasters meet on 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month at Crowne Plaza, Leeds at 7:00pm. Just come along to a meeting. It’s free, if you are coming along as a guest and you can join after you are sure that it could benefit you”

“Thanks Dinesh, I look forward to the meeting” said Mark with a smile.