Saturday, 10 September 2016 21:21

What makes Toastmasters successful?

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Visit a Toastmaster meeting today!To be able to answer this question with any degree of quality, I think it is necessary to challenge the original assertion … is Toastmasters successful?

I think you have to qualify the term successful. Of the hundreds of thousands of members that have passed through the organization, have everyone of them been successful at achieving their goals? No.

Is Toastmasters the best in the world at teaching communication & leadership skills? Possibly, but probably not. It is however, the undisputed leader of providing inexpensive, effective communication & leadership skills training.

As a 22-year member, so far, I definitely believe that Toastmasters is successful from my perspective. I have leadership experience from the club executive level through to Area, Division, District and Regional.

So what actually makes Toastmasters successful? At the simplest level, I would say that the members do. We are a world-wide organization composed of clubs that embrace culture, ethnicity, diversity, adults over the age of 18 years, etc.

Our Toastmasters hierarchy is the opposite of that experienced in the workplace or industry. Rather than having a CEO that takes the top place in organizational pyramid, wielding formalized power & authority, we have an inverted pyramid. Our member is at the top of the pyramid. Below the member is the seven club officers, then Area Director, Division Director and the District Director.

At the very bottom is the International President. Each of these leaders, regardless of what level they are at, practice servant leadership, to those levels above them. We learn leadership skills by serving those that allow us to lead them, all without formalized power or authority. In turn, those below you on the pyramid provide support and service to you. It is a learning organization.

As members, through our club executives, we have the ability to participate in business meetings at all levels of the Toastmasters organization. We have the opportunity to run for senior positions within the organization, assuming that we have support from our fellow Toastmasters.

Having not been a member of too many world-wide organizations, I can’t imagine another where the average member can walk up to the leader of our organization our International President and strike up a casual conversation. The same applies the CEOs who run the business side or our organization.

Another factor in Toastmaster’s success is devotion to its core values: integrity, dedication to excellence, service to the member and respect for the individual. This doesn’t happen naturally. It has to be promoted and demonstrated at the club level. Everyone needs to be held accountable.

I don’t believe that a discussion on the merits of Toastmasters success would be complete without mentioning Toastmasters educational program i.e. communication & leadership. If you have been a member for a while, you will have noticed that there really only have been minor changes to our educational program. We are the cusp of the introduction of a new educational program that will take us even closer to becoming the undisputed leader of communication & leadership training, regardless of cost.

This change can be stressful for some people. For others, it can be a welcome challenge. I’m inches away from achieving my second DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster). I’m looking forward to some new challenges that will help increase my self-confidence and skills even more.

So short answer … yes, Toastmasters is successful … very successful!

Thanks for the question. I think I have the makings of a number 9 0r 10 speech in the Competent Communication Manual.

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