“Practice Makes Perfect”
Our teachers, coaches & parents preached this to us when we were young
Ask any pianist, basketball or football player & they will empathically agree with this mantra
Then it only makes sense that the more we practice our Toastmaster skills, the better we can get at public speaking and leadership.
Every interaction you have – be it talking to your boss, a peer, the waiter at the restaurant, or your daughter’s assistant principal who mailed you the detention report that your daughter forgot to give you – are all opportunities to practice & improve your speaking & leadership skills.
Beyond the everyday interactions – there are other ways to improve your skills
There are a variety of Toastmaster events outside of our own club designed to stretch your speaking skills & hone your leadership abilities.
If you are new to Toastmasters – you may not know about the series of contest we have each year.
Now granted – not everyone is excited about competing in a “Contest”
To some the fear of not winning or of being “beat” by a better competitor can be overwhelming.
Even if contests are a prominent aspect of Toastmasters – the most important competition is always – Your against your own abilities.
Competing against your own previous skill levels is the greatest value.
Another key value to our contests is the opportunity to meet & hear other Toastmasters with different skills and talents.
There are many different competitions where you can compete against yourself and with other competitors:
Table Topics Contests
Tall Tale Contests
Humorous Speech Contests
International Speech Contests
Most of these contests start in our Area and continue on to the Division and then District Level
Some contests go on to the Regional level and then to the International Contest at the annual Toastmasters Convention in August – where contestants compete for the
“World Champion of Public Speaking”
The contests offer many chances to participate beyond being a contestant.
Emcee or Toastmaster of the Contest where you get to manage the flow of the event and introduce the speakers and other participants
Judge – Many contests require the assistance of a Chief Judge and the individual judges. This keeps the competition both fair and impartial
Vote Counters are needed in all contests
Timers – Every contest needs participants to operate the stop watches and timer lights
Sergeants at Arms – Many of the contests need the assistance of a Sergeant at Arms to escort contestants and audience members in and out of the contest room at the appropriate times
Audience members – every Toastmaster event requires an audience. The audience members reaction to speeches and the contestants are another measure of the improving skills of speakers and presenters
No matter what contest role you decide to take – participating allows you to learn by observation, meet other talented toastmasters and – oh yeah – have fun
Your leadership and speaking skills can be further improved by participating in many different levels in the Toastmaster International organization.
Area Level – where multiple clubs are overseen by the Area Governor and a volunteers working on committees
Division Level – Division officers are the link between the Areas and Districts – in some cases providing assistance building and rebuilding clubs.
District Level – There are normally 50 clubs or more in a District. District level leaders work with the clubs, communities and even business leaders outside of Toastmaster to build new clubs and help existing clubs grow membership. There are numerous District level officers – District Governor, Lieutenant Governors of Education, Marketing, Public Relations and Treasurer are just a few.
Board of Directors – This is not that far fetched of a leadership role – every Director was once just like you – a new Toastmaster working thru the Communications and Leadership Manual and taking on leadership roles in their club.
Conference leaders – Our conferences need the help of numerous committee members related to registration, hospitality and facility setup. These roles can be challenging and therefore skill building and then rewarding.
During the Conferences your speaking skills and leadership abilities can benefit from being a presenter of an Educational Seminar, a Speech Contest and by spending time with other Toastmaster Comrades.
Now as a newcomer you may feel that all of these choices and opportunities are overwhelming – I assure you that as you work your way thru your first manual – you will see the advantages of increasing your involvement in numerous Toastmaster International events and activities.
Congratulations to each of you – Your participation at our Club Level is the first key step to improving your speaking and leadership skills.
Increasing your involvement in Toastmaster International Activities beyond our Club will open you up to endless possibilities to fuel the Mantra
“Practice making Perfect”