3 Tips for Making the Most out of Toastmasters

VPE Corner written in chalk on a chalkboard

Well into my successful career in Information Technology, I went back to school for a Master’s Degree in Learning and Development.  My thesis paper was on “Self-Directed Learning”.  During my research for this paper, I realized that I was not a Self-Directed learner.  I needed guidance.

That is what I love about Toastmasters – I call it “Directed Self-Learning”.  With the Toastmasters learning program, you get the basic information you need for picking up the elements of public speaking and leadership (whether you realize it or not).  In addition, if you desire, you can branch out and discover more about the topics through your own research.  The Toastmasters learning program is a package consisting of instructional materials, a supportive environment, helpful evaluation and the opportunity to “learn by doing.”

Even though you receive direction, it is still “Self-Learning” – you are responsible for how much you learn.  Here is a check-list of items to help you get the most out of your learning:

  1. Be sure you have a mentor within the chapter. 
    • If you do not know who your mentor is, ask the Vice President of Education.
    • If your mentor hasn't contacted you, contact them!
  2. Start your Path.
    • Be sure that you read through each project -- there is a lot of information therein, including the requirements, documentation, evaluation, and other forms.
    • Work with your mentor if you have questions, could use some insight, or need a practice partner.
    • Schedule your speech on the web site's weekly meeting sign up. This is a good way to commit to yourself that you will speak.
    • Print your evaluation form and bring it with you to the meeting.
    • Give your speech, review your evaluation, and log into Pathways to finish out your project.
    • To keep your momentum, start reading your next project right away and continue through the projects and levels.
  3. Be consistent.
    This is perhaps the most important element. It is best to speak on a regular basis. This helps increase your skills and build confidence. When you wait a long time between speeches, you can forget what you have learned and might have to work harder than you might otherwise.
    • It is recommended to speak at least once a month, or perhaps on a 6- or 8-week schedule -- whatever works best for you.
    • Consider making a list of prospective titles or topics for several speeches and putting them on the calendar in advance!
Scheduling your speeches in advance is a way of making a commitment to yourself.

Remember, it is YOUR learning program. Make sure you get the best out of it -- for you!

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