I took my first step towards improving my public speaking skills almost one and half years ago by joining 2ChangeU, a local Toastmasters Club.
In the first meeting that I ever attended, I saw Daisy Yu speaking. On that day, she was preparing for the area level speech contest. She literally blew me away. The content, the delivery, her gestures and, her vocal variations were extremely good. After listening to her, I made a decision. I am not going back! If I need to match with her current level, I wondered, how long would that take! I was mortified.
By then, I had postponed joining a Toastmasters club multiple times. Somehow I convinced myself to go back to that club the following week. I am very glad that I did it.
Nowadays, whenever somebody ask me to speak, I rack my brain around what to speak, how to make it better and, how to make an impact in someone’s life with my message. I channel my energy to figure out how to be successful, than worrying about how many ways I can fail and embarrass myself. My mindset shifted from negative to positive.
Most of us know the benefits of being a Toastmaster. In this article, I would like to share the indirect, hidden benefits that I have enjoyed being part of the club for the last one and half years. Those benefits that you cannot feel or see through until you become one. This is a personal observation, but I am sure that most of the Toastmasters can relate to it and agree with it.
Here are 5 not so obvious benefits of being a Toastmaster in no particular order.
Benefit # 1 – You can be a better writer: In the last one and half years, I have given almost 25 speeches. That’s little over one speech every month. I can confidently say that I am a better writer than when I started. How to write a speech with start that grabs attention, how to maintain smooth transitions in the body, how to create opportunities to use gestures and vocal variations, how to sprinkle humor across, these are some of the thoughts that comes to my mind while writing. My mentors have helped me to correct grammatical mistakes. The biggest learning so far has been the importance of conveying messages in lesser words! Less is good.
Benefit # 2 – You can be a better listener: When you are not giving a prepared speech, Toastmaster gives you various other opportunities to watch/analyze speakers from various dimensions. e.g. As an evaluator, you will be evaluating how the speaker did. As an ‘ah’ counter, you will be paying attention to the verbal and physical distractions caused by the speaker. As a Grammarian, you will give an ear to the right and wrong usage of English. When you observe and listen from the best, you automatically learn traits from them as well. Each and every task you take up can be a learning opportunity.
Benefit # 3 – You can gain personal rewards by helping others: There is no place in this world like Toastmasters where a bunch of people will kindly and patiently listen to what you have to say. Not only that, they will give you constructive feedback as well. Everyone wants you to succeed. When you help others in their personal journey, it is a rewarding experience. When you mentor a new joinees and help them in realizing their goals, the feeling is immense. When you help somebody come out from their shell and put their voice across, it is priceless.
Benefit # 4 - You will get networking opportunities: You meet people from different walks of life in Toastmasters. Diversity can be in age, religion, country of origin, professional background etc. When you go outside of your club and socialize with other Toastmasters from other clubs, the reach becomes even wider.
One of the best aspects of Toastmaster is that you get to see real people. When you are part of a club for a longer period, you get to witness a shy person walking into the club, giving his/her ice breaker, progressing on their journey. You see their emotions, struggle and be part of their joy and sorrow. It’s like you are part of a big reality show. You see real people. Nobody can fake that journey. When you see real people, you will be able to pick and choose the right people that you can connect with.
On the personal front, when your speeches are heard, you build credibility; you build your own brand slowly and steadily. Acquaintances and relationship can help in many ways from a personal and professional point of view.
Benefit # 5 – Toastmasters meetings are fun: When I came to the Toastmasters meeting for the first time, I thought it is a very serious group where one person talks and others listen! I never imagined that the whole experience could be real fun. Table Topics or the impromptu speeches are my favorite. Finding a topic to write, writing and polishing it, delivering it, listening to humorous stories and various other types of speeches, and receiving constructive feedback elevated my mood. I eagerly look forward for Tuesday meetings and spend quality time with fellow Toastmasters. I think I have missed only a couple of meetings in the last one and half years.
When I joined Toastmasters, all I knew was that I can be a better public speaker by putting dedicated effort. I realize now that there is much more to it. The benefits listed above are just a few and I can go on forever highlighting many other benefits. I have gained immensely from the time tested and proven educational program from a personal and professional point of view. I am proud to be part of this organization and hope to improve myself from this continued association.