Toastmasters began when Ralph C. Smedley saw a need in the early 1900’s for men in the community to learn how to speak, conduct meetings, plan programs and work on committees. Smedley introduced the idea of Toastmasters to colleagues at the newly organized YMCA in Santa Ana, CA, where they organized the first Toastmasters club and held their first meeting on October 22, 1924.
WHERE LEADERS ARE MADE
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization where members practice and improve public speaking and leadership skills in a friendly and supportive environment. The organization comprises of over 364,000 members in more than 16,200 clubs in 145 countries.
Getting the Most out of Toastmasters using LinkedIn – Part 1 of 2
We have all applied for jobs and often heard the words “You need to be the right fit for our team”. How do hiring managers know if you are the right fit for the team? What on your resume or LinkedIn profile could exemplify this fact?
According to Indeed.com, these are the 5 most sought after skills in any industry:
- Communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Teamwork skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Learning/adaptability skills
Do all these skills ring a bell? Aren’t these the same reason why so many of us become Toastmasters? The benefits of Toastmasters are well known to all of us,but many of us may not be taking advantage of this key experience to help us get our next job offer.
By mentioning Toastmasters experience as a member or an officer you demonstrate an intent to learn and improve which is a top-skill recruiter and hiring managers are looking for these days. Megan Mayer, Chair at Network for Impact and Division A Director. asserts “Anyone showing a desire to grow and learn, at any phase of life, is the one companies are looking to hire.”
Now more than ever hiring is becoming more if not totally virtual, and skills assessed through virtual platforms means we must focus on our virtual professional presence. Recent research shows that today’s college graduates have dismissed job boards in favor of job searching on Google and LinkedIn (64%) followed by company career pages (57%) and career fairs (57%). Makes sense, since these are tools which we use in our everyday lives.
Imagine connecting with fellow Toastmasters in your dream company or meeting your potential hiring manager in Toastmasters International webinars. LinkedIn and Toastmasters could totally make this happen. We come across so many members engaged in different professions during our visits to other clubs both virtually and in person, the same can be extended to LinkedIn. With this you have an advantage of a conversation starter, a clear indication of growth mindset, and clear example of your communication and leadership skills.
Megan believes at least 80% of this virtual process might stick around owing to high costs involved in hiring candidates. She claims, “ Even when the pandemic is over only final meetups might be in person and the prior screening process may continue to be online…they could be flown once they are screened for the final interview to meet the team and other members of the company.”
With the changing times, technology is expanding to meet new challenges at a rate we never imagined and we should surely keep up with our ways too.Let’s jump onboard this change, adapt ourselves and benefit from it. Workplaces have become virtual and distances irrelevant, let’s take advantage of virtual meetings and online networking platforms. In the next article we will show you how to showcase your leadership skills on your LinkedIn profile. We will show how to use this powerful online career platform to network with other Toastmasters at dream companies.
Companies often use sports analogies, such as “teams” for good reason. Megan believes “Companies are not looking to hire candidates who sit around until they are instructed to warm-up, instead they are interested in candidates, who take the game balls off the shelves and start the warm-up with others.”
Written by Raji Bandanapudi, Area D2 Director and member of Intel Innovators and Toastmaster Insiders
Member Spotlight: Michael Leadon
During this challenging time, clubs have faced issues with attracting and retaining members. Prior to the pandemic, Adobe Fontificators Toastmasters Club had great success with drawing 100 guests to its club open house. Since going virtual, the club has continued to engage guests. I spoke with Michael Leadon, President of Adobe Fontificators Toastmasters Club and former open house chair, to gain a better understanding of the event and the club’s strategies for guest/member retention.
Today, Michael is a highly experienced speaker; however, his public speaking journey began like many of ours. Michael joined the club four years ago to better his speaking skills. He was fearful of speaking, often shaking in public situations. However, as a Technical Architect, Michael interacted with customers regularly and needed to instill confidence in them about his work. Noting that any company leader has to be comfortable with public speaking, Michael wanted to face his fears. After walking by a Toastmasters banner in his office for seven years, Michael finally joined the club.
Today, as club president, Michael is actively involved in the club’s health. To advertise for the open house, the club posted in Adobe’s company-specific, weekly e-mail distribution list, “Insider,” the company calendar, and digital elevator screens for two weeks. Club members also posted flyers throughout the office building – on every floor, breakroom, and parking level elevator board (~70!). The club also developed a strong marketing strategy. The open house was held during the second week of the year to catch new year resolution momentum, free food was advertised, and flyer titles were five words or less (e.g. “Speak with Confidence” or “Become a Better Speaker”). Specifically, flyers were designed for people unfamiliar with Toastmasters. This approach attracted individuals interested in public speaking and individuals looking for help with English.
The open house ran like a regular Toastmasters meeting; however, one speaker gave a 5-7-minute explanation of the Toastmasters experience. The club members ensured that the roles reflected a commitment to diversity (e.g. different genders, ethnicities, level of speaking experience, etc.). Attendees were given handouts explaining the meeting roles and agenda and instructed to populate a sign-in sheet.
To retain new guests after the open house, club officers followed up with attendees via email within two days. Individuals who responded to the email were added to the club’s weekly meeting calendar invite. For the two club meetings after the open house, officers ensured that all speech roles were filled ahead of time and assigned the Toastmaster role to more experienced members. These strategies helped new guests feel more comfortable at the meetings.
Since switching to the virtual environment, Adobe Fontificators Toastmasters Club uses various tools to keep its members and guests engaged. The club uses a Toastmasters meeting management tool called easy-Speak to organize weekly meeting agendas, track members’ speaking paths, and allow meeting attendees to sign up for roles. Each week, the Toastmaster sends an email to the club’s distribution list with club updates. The Toastmaster is also responsible for ensuring all roles are filled for the week via Slack messaging, choosing volunteers at the end of the preceding meeting, emailing members on a 1:1 basis, or selecting individuals at the beginning of a meeting (if roles are still not filled). The club ensures that at least the Toastmaster is selected at the end of every meeting, such that there is some accountability for filling roles each week. To further encourage role sign up, the club provides cards with scripts for each role. The cards make it easy for even first-time attendees to fill roles. To re-engage members during shelter-in-place, Michael also presented a speech about tips for virtual presentations.
Overall, the club is cognizant that people are facing increased challenges during this time, such as Zoom fatigue, family priorities, and Covid-19. Thus, rather than repeatedly sending meeting invites to overwhelmed people, the club prioritizes sending cheerful club updates and keeping meetings fun to spread positivity.
If you are interested in learning more about Adobe Fontificators Toastmasters Club or attending a virtual meeting, please visit adobe.easy-speak.org. You can also contact the club President, Michael Leadon at firstname.lastname@example.org, or VPPR, Jennifer Trinh-Nguyen at email@example.com.
Written by Ramya Ramachandran of Intuitively Speaking Toastmasters Club
Before Covid-19 led us to move our Toastmasters’ meetings online, I had the opportunity to attend my very first club contest. My Toastmasters Club, Intuitively Speaking Toastmasters of Mountain View, hosted an International and Tall Tales club contest. If you are unfamiliar, thousands of Toastmasters compete in the Humorous, Evaluation, Tall Tales, Table Topics and International speech contests annually. Competition begins with club contests, and winners continue competing through the Area, Division and District levels. Winners of the District-level International Speech Contest proceed to the region quarterfinal level. Following region quarterfinals, winners advance to the semifinals for a chance to take part in the World Championship of Public Speaking. The other speech contests conclude at the District level.
In an International contest, contestants present a five-to seven-minute speech on any subject they choose. Contestants in my club stretched the boundaries here with speeches encompassing key lessons learned from childhood, humorous reflections on life, and much more. For the Tall Tales contest, contestants present a speech on a topic that is highly exaggerated and improbable in theme or plot. Again, contestants from Intuitively Speaking Toastmasters compelled us to think outside of the box with this contest. Speech topics ranged from alternate realities to mythical creatures to time-traveling. I found these contests to be highly engaging, and I was able to pick up a few pointers from distinguished speakers along the way. I also learned that there are additional contest categories – see below:
- Humorous: Contestants present a humorous speech that must be thematic in nature (opening, body, and close), not a monologue (series of one-liners)
- Evaluation: Contestants observe a five-to seven-minute test speech and then present a two-to three-minute evaluation of the test speech
- Table Topics: An impromptu speech in which all contestants are assigned the same topic, told to them when they are introduced by the contest chair
Although the club contest I attended was in person, I have recently discovered that several clubs have hosted virtual contests during this time. If you are interested in learning more about club contests, you can attend the upcoming District Conference from May 30-31. The Conference includes the District-Level competition, which you can register for and learn more information about at https://d101tm.org/conference/. This year’s Conference is 100% free and completely online! You can hear tantalizing tall tales and exciting entries for the International Speech Contest!
In addition to virtual contests, many clubs are hosting their club meetings online. Intuitively Speaking Toastmasters recently switched to online meetings. While we were initially hesitant that the transition from in-person to virtual meetings would be challenging, we found that the switch was actually quite seamless! In fact, virtual meetings help you refine an entirely new skillset: being engaging over video. At Intuitively Speaking Toastmasters, we discuss several video-focused topics such as having engaging gestures on camera, having adequate lighting in your background, being in frame while speaking, increasing audience participation, and many more. For both contests and meetings, guests are always welcome to attend. Below are links to a list of online meetings in District 101 as well as helpful tips for your club to follow while meeting online:
Meetings and contests are definitely worth attending to hear top-notch speakers! Additionally, if you are new to Toastmasters and/or curious about what it entails, now is a perfect opportunity to visit several clubs’ virtual meetings (from the comfort of your home!) to determine which is the best fit for you. Despite the uncertainty during this time, Toastmasters continues to serve as a place of consistency. Not only can you practice your public speaking skills, but you can also find a sense of community, positivity, and support.
Written by Ramya Ramachandran of Intuitively Speaking Toastmasters Club