When building corporate clubs, a common question is, “Other than speaking and leadership, what will my employees learn?” I have a standard answer. These notes can be downloaded as a Microsoft Word document below or copied right from this page.
Skills Learned as a Member of a Club
- Improved Communication Skills (both in group and one-on-one settings) – While we practice speaking from a lectern as we would in a public format, working in small groups allows us to hone personal communication skills as well as group presentation skills.
- Confidence – Toastmasters is not simply book or lecture learning, it’s participatory learning. By watching others demonstrate the skills they want to develop, practicing them, getting feedback, and starting the cycle over again, members learn quickly and effectively. The success members experience gives them the confidence to try new skills both inside and outside of Toastmasters.
- Better Meetings – Toastmasters are taught to keep a meeting moving and to get everyone involved. Having all voices heard during a meeting adds to morale and encourages wallflowers to share their thoughts. Sometimes those introverted wallflowers are some of the deepest thinkers but they often feel uncomfortable sharing their well thought out ideas. Facilitation skills are enhanced and honed by participating in several facilitator roles.
- Time Efficiency – With timed meetings, members learn to better estimate their time and learn the importance of running meetings on time.
- Enhanced Customer Communications – Customers rarely ask questions that we have exact answers to. Therefore, the ability to quickly take our knowledge and reframe it so that it fits the customer’s question is very important. Table Topics provides this skill set by adding quick thinking and accurate recollection to members’ skill sets.
- Improved Presentation Skills – Outside of the ability to just communicate our ideas, Toastmasters helps its members learn to communicate them in an engaging way so that our messages are received and effectively understood.
- Constructive Feedback – Toastmasters focuses on constructive feedback. Too often, constructive criticism can be mostly criticism. Toastmasters teaches its members to frame everything in a positive light so that the person receiving the feedback feels enthused, not put upon. As a manager, this one has been significant for me. The ability to institute performance change while making everyone happy about it has changed my department.
Skills Learned as a Club Officer
- Strategic planning – Each year club officers participate in a planning process for making their clubs successful. While this is minor compared to what a business or even a department of a business might do for annual planning, it is the first step for many members and it introduces them to the ideas of thinking about and working with a bigger picture.
- Improved Customer Service Skills – The officers serve the members of their clubs much as employees serve their customers, whether they are internal customers or external. Listening and deliberation skills are exercised.
- Delegation – Many people are of an “I can do this all myself” mindset. Club officers quickly learn that they cannot and through our training programs for officers, they learn to accept the need for delegation as well as understanding how to implement it. Delegation is one of the first needs of every leader.
- Marketing and Public Relations – One of the things Toastmasters clubs are always doing is looking for more members. Toastmasters is a great place for hands on, trial and error training in this area. Recognizing the wants and needs of customers and potential customers is one just on the exercises that officers go through.
- Budgeting – Again, though small in comparison to most businesses, the need to find creative ways to use the available funds and the need to differentiate between important needs, less important needs, and simply wants is a learning exercise.
- Writing – Numerous written messages go out from the club officers. These are usually in a more formal format and the officers learn to refine their writing techniques for professional purposes.
Skills Learned as a District Officer
- All of the Above – Every skill learned above takes on a new twist at the district officer level. Strategic plans involve hundreds to thousands of people. Budgets jump up to nearly six figures and are reported in a very transparent manner to the members. Delegation becomes critical. Presentations move from engaging 10 to 30 people to engaging several hundred. Every skill listed in the member and club officer segments is compounded and refined.
- Improved Meeting Facilitation – At the district level, meetings grown from a dozen participants to several dozens or even several hundred. Managing a large, productive meeting requires increased awareness and control. District officers work in this environment frequently.
- Training – Trainer and public speaker are similar and yet they are two different skill sets. Discovering how adults learn and using that information effectively can completely rewire business training events. Moving from leading short meetings and giving informational briefs, the trainer learns to plan and lead meetings that can run several hours to several days (see below for Event Planning.) The trainer learns to keep people engaged, enthused, and often entertained all while providing valuable content.
- Event Planning – From short events like formal socials and meet and greets to two-hour contests, half day trainings, and on to weekend long conferences, Toastmasters district officers are engaged in a variety of events. A district typically hosts 80 to 100 events per year. Some officers are only involved in a handful of those. Others might be involved in as many as half of them. Of course, strategic planning, budgeting, delegation, better meetings, and marketing all come together when it comes to event planning.
Microsoft Word format (.DOCX). The footer is left in the generic format of the Toastmasters district letterhead so that you can personalize it before sending it out.