Toastmasters Program Reflections – One Member’s Perspective
When you are part of an organization like Toastmasters for nearly 20 years, you may begin to wonder and ask, “So why does it work as well as it does? How has Toastmasters kept me engaged for so long? Why has it kept me engaged for so long?” I recently fell into that chasm of thought and began to reflect on what I experienced over those years. Let me share some of those reflections with you now.
Why Toastmasters Works
Well, I thought there were only several reasons, but as you can see below there are quite a few. No one reason stands above the rest, but the combination of reasons is hard to beat.
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2) Very Affordable – Not Expensive – averages approximately $120 per year
Yep – approximately $120/year for weekly meetings from Sept till June, that’s a 1 hour (minimum) weekly meeting,4 hours per week giving you 40 hours/year (if your club does NOT meet during summer) meaning approx $3/meeting (max) – (some clubs meet for 1.5 or 2 hours weekly) – where can you find value today like that !
3) Most meetings are weekly
This is a big plus – if you have to miss a meeting (and you will) you don’t miss a beat as you return the following week
4) Club membership is approximately 20 people (+/-)
This manageable club size makes each meeting personalized to you – so you always have an opportunity to take part, be seen and be heard
5) Trusting & Safe Environment
In some clubs, the speeches you will hear are heartfelt true stories of personal tragedies, some still engoing. Never is trust and confidentiality stressed or asked for upon joining, yet all members somehow embrace their personal confidentiality ethics and never repeat or use that knowledge of a member outside of the club against them.
6) Self Paced – You get to pick your own pace
You choose how often you want to speak & participate in meetings – remembering that what you get out is what you put in
7) Everyone is on a level playing field
Unlike our workplaces (and I have seen a few in my career) where the environment can be competitive, challenging and “dog-eat-dog” for employees to not share everything and place themselves at a disadvantage. In Toastmasters, no one is a threat to any other member. This creates an open field for sharing and helping each other, despite career, education, culture, religion, sex and age variances. You just cannot have that in the workplace, atleast not the ones I have worked in for 30+ years
8) Members trust each other in sharing personal, confidential and private aspects about themselves
Many times member speeches will contain personal experiences that member’s share from their past and their current life, making them vulnerable, one would think. Members respect this sharing and never use that information against them, like it may be if disclosed in an occupational environment.
9) Variety of clubs on different days, times and locations
This flexibility in offering means Toastmaster membership bends itself around fitting in with your work, family and life demands
10) Each meeting has rotating roles to be filled by members, so you never stagnate and learn to be dynamic and proactive
I always say to surprised guests, “We are not a coffee club”. Each meeting has a structured agenda that rotates the roles each meeting to give all members the opportunity to serve and learn in the approximate 17 meeting roles needed for a successful meeting. We start on time and end on time. We value our members time and attendance.
11) Leadership and Speaking levels are tiered – the next level builds on the previous position you served in
Each leadership position makes use of the skills learned in the previous position. This means the current leader knows what they are talking about and can have empathy for their successor, as they were once there, perhaps facing the same challenges. Each successive level keeps you the member growing.
12) Leadership Growth, Speaking Growth or both – there is something here for everyone
Some members join to enhance their speaking skills. Some join for leadership growth. Others join to build their confidence. Some come to network and learn from others. There really is something for everyone.
13) Toastmasters organizational chart is tiered and pyramidal
This means that members progressing to the next higher leadership position must have served in the position below. This ensures consistency in the knowledge structure and everyone knows what they are talking about, as they have had to “walk-the-talk”
14) Toastmasters educational program has been constantly evolving since the organizations inception in 1924
Toastmasters International is led by 14 board of directors who serve for 2 year terms. To ensure overlap, continuity and consistency, the 2 year terms overlap by 1 year. So each year, 7 change over, making the 7 incoming overlap with the 7 from last year.
15) Worldwide footprint with over 16,000 clubs, over 350,000 members in 143 countries
This is great when members travel for work or holidays to other countries. They look up the local Toastmasters club using the “Find a Club” utility on the Toastmasters International website. Walk into a club 1/2 way around the world and you feel like you are at your home club.
16) Toastmasters Organization is not-for-profit
This has always made membership costs very affordable, along with all the materials members purchase from the Toastmasters International Online Store
17) Toastmasters International has high standards
Integrity – Respect – Service – Excellence” are the 4 core values echoed to all members
All the above leads me to conclude, in my personal reflection of membership of 20 years
“Toastmasters Brings Out the Best in Us – And Brings Out The Best“
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development, with over 352,000 members in 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program