Over 100 years ago in the agriculturally growing but still rustic town of Bloomfield, Illinois, a director of Education at the local YMCA named Ralph C. Smedley recognized the need for men in the community to learn how to speak professionally, organize and run meetings, plan programs, and work on committees. The first meeting of the first Toastmasters was held on the 22nd of October, 1924 at the newly built YMCA in Santa Ana, CA.
Today, Toastmasters operates 16,200+ clubs that hold over 360,000 members from 143 different countries around the world. So, what is this obscure international organization rooted in diverse inclusion?
What is Toastmasters?
With clubs merely an hour’s driving distance from 90% of the US population, Toastmasters has become a globally recognized organization dedicated to the pursuit of professional success and personal fulfillment through building communication skills. You’ll improve your public speaking skills, practice writing speeches and presenting in a group setting, gain confidence and self-awareness, and receive regular, constructive feedback from your peers with similar drive and interests.
Toastmasters helps professionals working towards their goals from across the spectrum grow their skills and network. With weekly meetings throughout the year, the learning never ends as you routinely practice newfound techniques with your peers.
How Toastmasters can help you
According to everyone who’s ever written an article about the skills employers want most, communication consistently remains the top mention. Employers like to know that the prospective employee has interpersonal skills, can speak confidently and articulately, and won’t crumble under pressure. They especially love noticing hints of attributes like leadership and the ability to motivate others.
1. Build skills employers really want
The main objective of Toastmasters is to make you a more confident speaker and leader in your community. When you join a Toastmasters club, you’ll experience the bulk of your skill/confidence building comes from giving speeches. Being guided through how to give a speech allows us to work on things like our volume, clarity, and room presence while speaking. You’ll learn how to effectively engage your audience in every way from the inflection of your voice to the motions of your hands. Toastmasters also learn how to utilize certain speaking styles for different settings. Whether you’re looking to blow execs away with an extraordinary pitch or rally support in your community through a sensational speech, Toastmasters keeps you at your professional best.
There is no specific niche for Toastmasters. Millions of people from jobs totally unrelated to one another have and continue to benefit from the skills they acquired through this club. From broadcast announcers on television and the most purpose-driving motivational speakers to human resource managers and marketing executives, the professional world is full of people constantly growing their speaking skills.
Toastmasters imbues everyone with the gift of verbal eloquence. Learning how to speak passionately yet concisely translates beautifully whether you’re speaking to one person or a crowded room.
2. Network your success
Mastering these skills will naturally garner more networking opportunities as your circle expands through your Toastmasters peers. Many are known to gain side business, contracts, sponsorships, expanded resources, and other general opportunities just by associating with those in their local Toastmasters club. Since Toastmasters is a club for people wanting to grow, you’re already in the perfect place to share/expand on your ideas with other passionate, connected individuals.
3. Job Hunting
Remember how I mentioned that employers love knowing a prospective employee has solid communication skills? With Toastmasters on your resume, employers won’t need to do much looking. Seeing that someone is active in their local Toastmasters club translates to an employer “This person definitely has the communication skills we want.”
A potential employer seeing Toastmasters on your resume tells them you’re at least a confident speaker. But you’re probably good at a whole host of other things like efficiently running a meeting, being able to clearly and concisely deliver a presentation to execs, appropriately commanding attention when needed, and even being able to effectively communicate with peers to include conflict resolution. These are all things that employers strive to learn the extent of an interviewee’s capability for, but watch as that worry fades away once they discover your membership to a lifelong organization founded and dedicated on the concept of increasing the communication skills of a community.
How can you join?
If you’re reading this article, I’d be willing to bet you live within an hour, or much closer, to a Toastmasters club. A relatively straightforward process, you can just visit a nearby Toastmasters club to fill out a membership application. There is a $20 new member fee and a $45 international club due every 6 months. Treat this as an investment into yourself and your future success. If you get a good enough tax person, you may even be able to write it off as a business expense.
Click here to find the nearest club to you https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club
Click here to check out other resources like public speaking tips, the Toastmaster magazine, a video library, leadership articles, and more https://www.toastmasters.org/resources
If you missed last week's Women in Business blog written by Audrey Truitt, click below to read about info, tips, and resources on negotiating a fair salary.