Adventures in Toastmasters

In Cool Ideas on February 26, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Where do you rehearse your presentations, sales pitches, or jokes?  Do you have a few trusted colleagues or friends who’ll watch and listen to you practice.  If you do have such friends, great!  And if these same colleagues or friends are Toastmasters, even better.  For in Toastmasters, members learn the art of giving effective evaluations.

Why is this important? Contrary to popular opinion, practice does not make perfect.  Practice makes permanent.  So it is best to practice your trade where you will be assisted or receive a critique from a knowledgeable observer or better yet by a trusted sensei.  Not a martial artist?  Then think of how you might improve your tennis stroke or golf swing.  You can ask your hacker friends or even your caddy.  But if you want to improve your game in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, you should consult a professional coach, someone schooled in observation and in communicating effective feedback.  Not into sports?  Then think about where best to learn to cook.  Do it yourself, watch the cooking channel, or enroll in a chef’s school.

I belong to two Toastmasters clubs — one a corporate club and the other an advanced community club.   I also routinely volunteer to teach workshops at my place of employment as well as at the district’s Toastmasters Leadership Institute.  To me, Toastmasters training venues are very much like attending an aikido seminar — where the better ‘sensei’ share their wisdom — and then I can practice or rehearse what I’ve learned in these seminars at  my home dojo.

One more thing … For those who attended the February 19th workshop Train the Trainers <– click here to view/download a comic strip which may help you remember the material we covered in group exercises.  For those who missed this class, perhaps this artifact will entice you to attend this class or another in the future.

  1. News Flash … The “How to Conduct Productive Meetings” workshop hosted by Toastmasters International Club # 2940 last Friday was a complete success. We had 6 guests from outside the A-Team attend.

    14 participants + 1 meeting leader (me) attended the workshop. This 1-hour, skill-building session is a part of the “Success/Leadership Series” from Toastmasters International.

    Background: I took the liberty of using the project coordinator’s script from TI and then complemented this with my own graphic illustrations and personal/professional stories about ‘running meetings for a living’ as a professional facilitator.

    Here’s a sample of the participants’ feedback — in their own words:

    · “Good use of power point … Inclusive, interactive discussion, valuable handouts.”

    · “Great opening! Great materials!”

    · “I enjoyed the meeting … No pressure … Meeting improvement affects every perspective of my life – church, family, and work. Thanks!”

    · “John was clear and concise. He knew what he wanted to get across and he was successful.”

    · “Well done. The 20 questions (my handout and also found in the archives) are helpful.”

    · “Please send me a copy of your slides. This workshop was very informative. I go to a lot of meetings that need better order. Thank you.”

    · “A crisply run workshop with no ahs or ums in your speech.”

    · “Well focused.”

    · “Very well done.”

    · “Can I have a copy of the power point presentation?”

    · “Very productive and educational … I now know that successful meetings require more thought and planning than I thought before today.”

    · “Timely … I have a job interview next week and will use the techniques explained here to prepare for this critical meeting … Excellent presentation!”

    Note: Two participants opted not to submit written feedback. They had to rush to another meeting and were smiling as they left the room.

    John Lesko, CPF

    Please … If you too have had experience with any TM-related workshops, share your story here.

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