Scott H Young

Why You Should Join Toastmasters


If you’ve been reading this blog, you may notice that I make frequent references to Toastmasters. Of all the organizations I’ve joined, Toastmasters has had the greatest positive impact on my life. I believe the benefits of membership extend far beyond simple public speaking skills. I think almost everyone would benefit from joining toastmasters.

First a little information about what Toastmasters is for those who are unfamiliar with this organization. Beginning in 1924 through Ralph C. Smedley to train public speaking, the organization has since grown to over 200 000 members in over 90 countries worldwide. Focusing on public speaking and leadership skills, Toastmasters is one of the largest organized systems of personal development in the world.

Not Just Public Speaking…

One of the big problems I see with Toastmasters current reputation is that most people on initial inspection believe that it is simply a program for speakers to get together and practice what, for most people is an often unused skill. Since most people don’t do any public speaking aside from the occasional meeting or toast at a wedding, they see the (usually) weekly meetings as being a considerable investment for unsure benefits.

Unfortunately what most people don’t understand is that the skills learned in mastering public speaking and leadership are core skills needed for dealing with other people. These skills are the communication skills you use many times every single day. Instead of thinking about doing a big presentation with your toastmaster skills, think about something as simple as talking with a group of friends.

Many people who have labeled themselves ‘introverts’ or lack social skills can find Toastmasters to be a fantastic place to rapidly improve their communication skills. Even if you are currently a very sociable person, Toastmasters can teach you to improve your skills and give you the confidence that comes from being a competent speaker.

But if you just go to one meeting and see the prepared speeches, this benefit of Toastmasters might not be apparent. It took me several months before I really found the intrinsic benefits to Toastmasters. Although the improvement to public speaking comes immediately, it can take a little longer before you recognize the benefits it has in all communication.

Meeting People

Toastmasters is a great place to make friends and meet new people. Organizations in general are great places to meet people, but I would say that the Toastmasters atmosphere facilitates it even more. I have met many people through Toastmasters, including many people I might not have otherwise had the chance to meet.

One of the reasons I feel Toastmasters makes it easier to meet people is because there is a strong emphasis on being very supportive of the people around you. It’s too bad that this attitude isn’t ingrained in all our dealings with other people, because it really makes it much easier to make friends. I can’t speak for all clubs when I make this statement, but generally I have found Toastmasters to be a place that tries its best to make people feel welcomed.

The second reason Toastmasters is a great place to meet people is because there is mutually positive feedback between members. By giving and receiving positive feedback I think rapport is established much more quickly. If you do decide to join a club with a high volume of new members I have found this to be even more true as everyone is trying to learn at the same time.

Great Times

One of the aspects of Toastmasters that surprised me most was just how fun the meetings are. Even without all the skill and relationship benefits, I would go to meetings sheerly for entertainment.

Unfortunately I think this aspect of Toastmasters is also overlooked by new members. In the first few meetings you might feel a bit fresh and nervous, so it might be hard to enjoy yourself. But I’ve found after just a couple meetings members have often told me that they come just for the stress relief or laughs.

I’ve been to meetings where there was improv comedy, jokes, and even charades. Even the regular activities such as prepared speeches, table topics and doing introductions are usually filled with humor. If your initial impression of Toastmasters was that of a stuffy, boring organization where people gave toasts to each other, then I think you should look again.

How to Join Toastmasters

Now that I’ve spun on about how great toastmasters is, I want to tell you how you can join a club in your area. Joining is incredibly easy and is extremely cheap compared to the value you get out of it.

Step One: Find a Club

Finding a club is actually much easier than you would think. There are thousands of clubs all over the world, so even if you live in a remote place of the world, you might be able to find a local club. I used to live in a small town of a few thousand people several hundred kilometers away from any major city and I was surprised to realize that there was a club in my area. Find your local club here.

Step Two: Contact the Club

Most of the clubs have a contact address where you can send the vice president of membership an e-mail asking about the club. They should be able to tell you when they meet, what kind of members (experienced, new, etc.) and what to expect. If you live in a larger city you can probably find many different clubs so you can pick and choose what best fits your schedule. So far all of the clubs I have contacted were extremely receptive to new guests, so just send a few e-mails and you will probably get quick responses.

Step Three: Come as a Guest

Each club has a different membership policy, but almost all of them allow for guest visits for a couple of meetings before membership is required. So if you aren’t sure about the Toastmasters experience, come as a guest and check it out. This way you can check out several clubs and find one that suits your needs.

Not all clubs are perfect and some might not be suitable for you. As the VP of Membership in my own club I’ve seen a lot of guests pass by our club (as well as those who join). Just because you dislike the first club you go to would be no reason to stop. I would say try at least three different clubs before making a decision about whether Toastmasters is right for you. Clubs can vary like flavors of ice-cream so just because you don’t like vanilla doesn’t mean you won’t like chocolate.

Step Four: Come for at Least Six Months

Unfortunately one of the biggest downsides of Toastmasters is simply that the benefits of membership won’t be apparent initially. When I did my first few speeches and impromptu speaking opportunities I didn’t notice drastic improvement and I hadn’t yet gotten to know all the members. However after completing more speeches and spending several months I really began to see Toastmasters as being fun, educational and useful to my life.

This may be a bit of an investment to spend six months as a trial period for whether you like this Toastmasters thing, but I believe that it can take at least this long before the benefits come pouring in. Some people respond well to Toastmasters and make huge improvements within just a handful of meetings, while others may take longer to build skills and it could take several months.

I’ve said before how I believe in the thirty day trials of experimenting with an idea for thirty consecutive days. Well since Toastmaster meetings are usually only once per week, expanding one month to six would be about fair. If you are willing to invest a month into a new idea, diet, or habit then I think coming up with a little cash and an hour a week isn’t too hard.

Toastmasters is a great club for all ages to join. My last club I was the youngest member by at least ten years, but the new club I am in is a student club where most people range from 20 to 25. If you are in a foreign country and don’t speak the native language, Toastmasters can be a great place to learn. Many members have noted it was a great place to learn English (or whatever language your club speaks).

There are few things I strictly advocate because I believe each person is different. While I’m not arrogant enough to assume Toastmasters is for everyone, I have found it an overwhelmingly positive experience. And again, if you haven’t already clicked the find a club link, here it is.


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43 Responses to “Why You Should Join Toastmasters”

  1. [...] a good summation, so I’ll just pipe in with a hearty “what he said.” | Permalink Filed under: Travel by — Doug @ 4:35pm [...]

  2. Eric says:

    Thank you for writing this post!! :)

  3. [...] FYI: Scott H Young posted something on why you should join Toastmasters. It’s a group that will help you with speaking and story telling. It’s definitely the fast track to overcoming shyness and becoming interesting. __________________ Henry! Binary Dollar – Personal Finance For Dummies. [...]

  4. Benjamin says:

    Hey Scott
    Great blog about Toastmasters! I’m on my fourth speech (just gave a 40 minutes out-of-club talk on Real Estate Investment [http://www.kwinvestments.com]) and I love being a TM!

    Be Great
    Benjamin Bach
    http://www.benjaminbach.com

  5. Scott Young says:

    Thanks for the comments Eric and Benjamin.

  6. Scott says:

    I joined Toastmasters recently and will be giving my first speech in a couple weeks. One thing I’ve already noticed is catching my uhs and ums before I say them. Public speaking is something I’m exploring as a future opportunity so for that it’s valuable, but also because I’m in sales and it helps my confidence.

    Great post!

    Scott

  7. I’ve been a member for about 2 months and it’s great. I second your recommendation, Scott.

  8. [...] Supporting Toastmasters For those of you considering Toastmasters, Scott Young posted a link to a great post of his explaining the benefits, "Why You Should Join Toastmasters." In it he talks about giving it at least six months, which I think is a very good suggestion, and realistic. I’ve also posted an article on my blog on what the organization has done for me, about what I gained from my participation in the spring 2004 speech contest season. It’s called "Yes, Talking Fish." __________________ Daniel The Meaning of Existence (and all that): The Odd Little Universe of Daniel Brenton http://www.danielbrenton.com [...]

  9. [...] Welcome to the April 18, 2007 edition of carnival of public speaking! Scott Young presents Why You Should Join Toastmasters posted at Scott H Young. [...]

  10. [...] If you are going to be doing a lot of presentations, interviews or formal communications in your work or life, I’d suggest joining Toastmasters. A non-profit organization dedicated to improving communication skills they can give you practice. But if you are concerned about an approaching presentation you’ll just have to hack it. [...]

  11. [...] If you are going to be doing a lot of presentations, interviews or formal communications in your work or life, I’d suggest joining Toastmasters. A non-profit organization dedicated to improving communication skills they can give you practice. But if you are concerned about an approaching presentation you’ll just have to hack it.Source: http://www.ririanproject.com [...]

  12. Wiebke says:

    Hi Scott – thanks for the introduction. I find it fascinating how quickly TM transforms its members into active promoters – including me.

    Typo alert: “TM tries it’s best” should read “its best”.

  13. [...] If you are going to be doing a lot of presentations, interviews or formal communications in your work or life, I’d suggest joining Toastmasters. A non-profit organization dedicated to improving communication skills they can give you practice. But if you are concerned about an approaching presentation you’ll just have to hack it. [...]

  14. Scott Young says:

    Looks like I fell for the most common spelling mistake on the planet. Thanks for catching me, I normally try to avoid my apostrophe blasphemy.

  15. matt says:

    I thought of joining the toastmasters at my university. This article has given me a lot of insight. Thanks for writing it.

  16. matt says:

    oh… I meant to also say that your article has helped me to decide to join!

  17. Jerry Gold says:

    Hi Scott:

    Enjoyed reading your blog about Toastmasters. Would you like to swap links? Thanks,

    Jerry

  18. Hi Scott,
    I’ll repeat what many have said about your review of Toastmasters: it’s accurate, clear and beneficial. I’ve only recently become a Toastmasters member at Rio Copa and now I am VP of Public Relations. I wanted to gather and share some information about the very practical and broad benefits of TM participation. I’d like to paraphrase some of what you wrote to encourage new members and re-enlist some of our inactive members.
    I may just send them a link to your fine site.

    Thank you.
    AJM

  19. [...] of presentations, interviews or formal communications in your work or life, I’d suggest joining Toastmasters. A non-profit organization dedicated to improving communication skills they can give you practice. [...]

  20. [...] of presentations, interviews or formal communications in your work or life, I’d suggest joining Toastmasters. A non-profit organization dedicated to improving communication skills they can give you practice. [...]

  21. Hemant Saini says:

    Thanks for the article and the blog. I am going to join TM.
    I am a physician and I have to do a lot of presentations.
    I have a fear of speaking in public. I can talk at great length on some topic in a more informal arrangement, but there is something about standing up in front of people and talking about the same topic, I get very nervous.
    I am determined to get over this fear of mine and hopefully, joining TM is the first step in that direction

  22. [...] collage picture of a group of people you know that know each other and send it to all of them. 75. Join your local Toastmasters public speaking group and develop your message. 76. Do something that you normally avoid doing [...]

  23. Kelly says:

    I have so far only visited one Toastmasters…but I can already see some of the benefits you are mentioning. The people were very nice and personable and the speeches were entertaining (my first visit was a humor speech contest). I also incidentally had created my own path for joining Toastmasters and it matches up very well with yours…I am attending my next 2 clubs next week to determine which one will fit best.

    My goal after joining a club is to become a competent communicator within a year…for fun I am also writing a blog about it, partially for my own amusement…kind of like journaling, and also so that others who are interested in Toastmasters or public speaking can follow.

  24. Zaileen Hashim says:

    Hi,

    We have a Toastmaster Programme too in Malaysia Airlines. An interesting programme where it boosts confidence. I don’t think I can stand up in front of a big audience and speak too.

    Here check it out on our Living MH Blog. One of the key committee member for Malaysia Airlines Toastmaster Programme wrote his blog story “My Journey in Toastmaster. Read his story and click this link – http://www.malaysiaairlinesblog.com/pt/blog/default.aspx?id=479&t=My-journey-in-Toastmasters

  25. [...] solid information about Toastmasters.  I also had read some material about it in past months from Scott H Young and Steve Pavlina, as well as many [...]

  26. Kathrin Lake says:

    I so agree. TM teaches people how to run meetings effectively, how to engage people and get them on board, how to give non-threatening feedback and so many other leadership and communication skills.

  27. I’ve been a Toastmaster for several years. I would agree that it’s one of the top personal development tools.

    The investment is a no-brainer. First of all, the cost of Toastmasters is negligble (maybe $75/yr).

    You’ll expand your social circle with people who are into personal development. Toastmasters are not lazy, apathetic cubicle rats. They want more out of life.

    Finally, public speaking is a rare skill. You’ll differentiate yourself from your colleagues and competitors.

  28. Akpabio, idongesit says:

    I want to join the toast master group please.

  29. Liz says:

    What a great blog. I plan to email this to a friend. She is very shy,and convinced if she speak in public she will either wet her pants or die. My poor friend lives in the shadows, and I know Toastmasters will help her.
    Her excuses are 1. I will wet my pants. 2. I will die. 3. Everyone will laugh at me. 4. Everyone will find me weird. 5. Everyone will think I am stupid. 6. No one will listen to me.

    I know toastmasters is her ticket to a better life

  30. Todd says:

    I have been a member since 2006 (off and on due to other commitments). It is an excellent group that can really improve your speaking and communication skills. I was extremely shy and it helped me break out of my shell. It also makes you push yourself in a new, positive direction. I kick myself because there are times that I make excuses why I have better things to do than attend a meeting once a week. As with anything, if you want results you need to put in the time. Do not let fear stop you from attending meetings. I let this happen and realized that I was just limiting myself. After I decided to keep going to the meetings regularly, I noticed a marked improvement. I was giving great speeches that made people laugh and got some really good reviews on my feedback forms!

  31. Angela says:

    Great blog very informative!

  32. Brittany says:

    I enjoyed this post Scott, and will check out more of your blog! I like how you explain that Toastmasters isn’t just about giving formal speeches, it’s about everyday communication and offers something for everyone. I just joined officially last week, and have been to 4 meetings so far and the 5th one is tomorrow. I am signed up to tell some jokes, I hope it goes well! I joined toastmasters because I have a big fear of public speaking and I’ve been trying to do things that scare me this year for my “Shyness Project” (http://theshynessproject.wordpress.com/) this year, and it’s been going well! At first I wanted to get the heck out of there I felt so intimidated, but now I’m starting to feel more comfortable. I’m glad that Toastmasters has been a really good experience for you! Take care!

  33. Paul says:

    Just wanted to let youi know that in two weeks I will present a speech which will qualify me for my Advanced Communicator Silver Certification. It took me seven years, but I did it. I am also an Area Governor and Chairman of Disstrict 52′s newsletter.

  34. [...] интервью, я бы мог посоветовать вам присоединиться к  Toastmasters. Эта некоммерческая организация создана для [...]

  35. Surjit says:

    I am retired, 67, not to good in speaking English fluently. I want to improve. I know , it’s a great place for outing, social gathering and learning.
    Learning is my passion.

    Question is—Should I join It.?
    I am in Canada, have gone to four meetings and I love it Help me to make the decision.

    Thank you,

    surjit Grewal

  36. [...] week at the Toastmasters Club I belong to, SITSO Said-So Toastmasters – Club641259, there is one part of the meeting [...]

  37. Bruce says:

    Scott, thank you very much for this post. I’ve read your blog for a month or two but I haven’t read many of the older posts so it was a treat to come across this post.

    I’ve been a guest to a ToastMasters club at my workplace but somehow got hesitant about committing to being a member. You made a great case about the benefits of membership and in laying out a reasonable time frame to garner the benefits. In particular, I like your observation about ToastMasters being committed to personal development.

    Are you still a member of ToastMasters here in 2012? If so, how you have your views changed and evolved on ToastMasters since 2006?

  38. [...] интервью, я бы мог посоветовать вам присоединиться к  Toastmasters. Эта некоммерческая организация создана для [...]

  39. Great article read more about Toastmasters here: http://www.charleswoodway.com/toastmasters/

  40. Juan Carlos says:

    Wonderful Post, Scott. I will use parts of it on my third project of the CC. Greetings from Sagrada Familias Toastmasters Club in Barcelona, Spain!

  41. […] should you join a Toastmasters club in Montreal?  You can join Toastmasters for many reasons, […]

  42. Ashar says:

    Hello All,
    I visited Toastmaster club as a Guest. But my major problem is speaking in English. When I speak in English ,I mix all words. This is the major problem. But my writing skill is fine.
    Now what would you say that Toastmasters is Good for me ?

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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