As a small business owner, I am always looking for ways to improve myself and my business. I am constantly being approached by companies that want to modify my website, get me more leads, or sell me a seminar that will teach me to sell ice cubes to Eskimos.
Although there is value in these aforementioned processes, I have found that one of the best bangs for the buck is a membership in a Toastmasters club. I have belonged to Toastmasters for the past three years, and my expectations have all been exceeded.
Like anything else, you will only get out of Toastmasters what you are willing to put in. The great thing about Toastmasters is the opportunity to develop skills which will help both the individual and the business.
Most people think that Toastmasters is just about overcoming the fear of public speaking. Well, that is just one of the benefits. A few of the additional benefits are:
- Communication Skills – Once you are up in front of an audience speaking, it is important that you have the ability to convey your message. With Toastmasters you learn how to use body language, gestures, and voice inflection to communicate clearly and concisely.
- Leadership Skills – Every Toastmasters meeting includes three or four leadership roles. These are in addition to the club leadership positions such as President, Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant-At-Arms.
- Business Meeting Protocol – Toastmasters meetings are conducted using standard business meeting protocol. The business section of the meeting and the board meetings utilize Roberts Rules of Order to insure that there is purpose and focus to the meeting.
- Educational Advancement Opportunities – Through a series of speeches and projects, a Toastmaster is able to advance to progressively higher credentials. Also, being in the audience of many of the competent speakers allows the members to learn about various topics.
- Business Networking – Although Toastmasters in not primarily a business networking organization, it is definitely a by-product of the process of building relationships through the common goal of self-improvement.
There are Toastmasters Clubs that fit all different needs. There are clubs that meet in the morning, lunch clubs, dinner clubs, and after dinner clubs. There are clubs with specific themes such as sales or comedy, and there are clubs that are sponsored by and hosted by companies and organizations specifically for their employees or members.
How do you find a Toastmasters? Go to http://www.toastmasters.org/Find-a-Club and put in your address. I would suggest visiting a couple of different clubs to determine which best fits your needs.
You will benefit from Toastmasters if you have the desire to improve yourself and your business.
Bradley Lyon, of Lyon Strategic Consulting, LLC is the Vice President of Education for the San Pedro Toastmasters Club #111. His current responsibilities as a Toastmaster include providing his fellow Toastmasters with the educational material and mentoring necessary for them to continually grow as a person and a Toastmaster.