Become a practiced master of the toastWritten by Tom Richard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Practice. Practice. Practice! That’s what you were told in grade school when it was time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But, the last thing you wanted to do as a child was to sit and memorize a 31 word sentence! Eventually, though, the Pledge of Allegiance rolled off your tongue as smoothly as a devout Catholic reciting the rosary.
As we grow older many are quick to share with others the skills they are — and are not — “good at.” Speaking, writing and being asked to compose your thoughts “on the spot” tend to be some of those things.
It should come as no surprise, then, that your skills will not progress unless you incorporate practice, repetition and some constructive evaluation of your skills into your schedule just as you did when you were learning the pledge.
There are people here in Toledo and across the country who have joined Toastmasters International in an effort to constructively evaluate one another; improve their skills in public speaking, and their speed and composition of thought. Toastmasters practice their skills weekly, beginning their meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance.
If you have ever found yourself saying that you’re not good at speaking, strategically composing your thoughts quickly or providing constructive evaluations of your peers, you should consider visiting a Toastmasters meeting.
Have you ever found yourself called upon to deliver a well-thought-out answer to a question without time to prepare your response? Sure you have. Toastmasters practice impromptu speaking during the “table topics” portion of its meeting; the portion of the meeting when members are asked a random question and must stand and deliver a well-thought-out response lasting two to three minutes.
When you are called upon to deliver a tight response, your brain starts to learn how to structure your response; you learn how to think on your feet. Learning how to think on your feet changes you because such skills have a direct impact on how you write a letter; how you type an e-mail, and how you answer those questions lobbed in your direction throughout the course of your day.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that requires you to deliver a speech, present information, or dazzle a small (or large) group of people? Sure you have. The second part of the Toastmasters meeting is the “prepared speeches” portion of its meeting. This is the part of the meeting when members learn how to construct their presentations, deliver them with gusto and keep their audience engaged in the topic of their choice.
Not only do members learn how to charismatically present their cases, they learn how to improve their listening skills, while listening to the prepared speeches delivered by others. Instead of simply shrugging off your next speaking opportunity by sheepishly saying, “Oh, I’m not good at that,” you can get good by starting to explore, experiment and expand your skill set by visiting a local Toastmasters meeting.
Have you ever had to evaluate another person’s work? Well, the third part of any Toastmaster meeting is the “evaluation portion” designed to practice and improve your evaluation skills. Did you know that when you practice your evaluation skills, you learn how to listen more effectively?
As you focus upon ways to improve your business, advance your career or better serve your community in the New Year, there are many powerful skills that you can learn by attending a Toastmaster meeting.
What you’ll find is that, instead of saying, “I’m not good at that,” you will learn new things the same way you learned the Pledge of Allegiance — through practice, practice, practice!
For the insider’s scoop on Toastmasters meetings go to www.boltfromtheblue.com and enter the word TOASTMASTER in the blue print box. Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer who gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.boltfromtheblue.com, call (419) 441-1005 or e-mail at email@example.com.