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Enhance Your Leadership Skills with Toastmasters

Enhance Your Leadership Skills with ToastmastersWho are your favorite leaders? If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll find that, in addition to being great
leaders, they are also good communicators.

Toastmasters International (http://www.toastmasters.org) is a non-profit educational organization. It is widely known for teaching public speaking through a worldwide network of meeting locations. What you may not know is that this organization is also recognized for teaching leadership skills and overall verbal communication skills. On the leadership track, it offers three certifications: Competent Leader, Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB), and Advance Leader Silver (ALS). All of these skills are a must for a great leader.

The organization is headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, and it has more than 313,000 members in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped millions of people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience and also demonstrate sound leadership skills.

 

Famous Toastmasters

The following is a partial list of famous toastmasters. You might be able to recognize some of them.

Carl Albert                  Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1971-77

William Bennett          Former Premier of British Columbia, Canada

James Brady             Two-term press secretary for U.S. President Ronald Reagan (Brady Bill)

Joe Conley                Actor, former cast member of television show The Waltons

Peter Coors               Chairman of Coors Brewing Company

Philip Crosby             Quality expert and leader of the quality movement

Debbi Fields Rose      Founder, Mrs. Fields Cookies

Napoleon Hill             Best-selling author of "Think and Grow Rich;" presidential advisor

Tara D. Holland C.     Miss America, 1997

Donald D. Lennox      Former President, Xerox Corporation's Information Systems Group

Harvey Mackay         Best-selling author of "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive"

Tom Monaghan         Founder of Domino's Pizza; owner of Detroit Tigers from 1983-1992

Walter Schirra           Late former U.S. astronaut in 3 programs; (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo)

 


Leader Certification

To become a Competent Leader (CL) by Toastmasters, you need to complete 10 projects while serving in various club meeting roles. An evaluator, who is an experienced leader from the club, will give you feedback on each project, helping you to improve. As expected from a reputable organization and a nurturing club, the feedback has a positive and encouraging tone.

After earning the CL certification, you can further refine and develop your leadership skills by working in the advanced leader program. Members working in this program are eligible for Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB) and Advanced Leader Silver (ALS) recognitions.

 

Communicator Certification

To become a Competent Communicator (CC) you need to complete 10 speech projects, which will help you develop your speaking skills one step at a time.

After receiving CC recognition, you can work in the Advanced Communication Series manuals, where you’ll refine and enhance your speaking skills and become eligible for Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB), Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS) and Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG) recognitions. There are 15 manuals, each containing five speech projects. Many of the manuals are career-oriented. The program is very flexible; you choose the manuals you want to complete and the skills you want to learn.

Below is a partial list of the communication manuals:

  • Humorously Speaking
  • Speaking to Inform
  • Facilitating Discussion
  • Speeches by Management
  • Technical Presentations
  • Persuasive Speaking
  • Storytelling
  • Interpersonal Communication (negotiating, handling criticism, coaching, complaining)

 

Eliminating Speech Disfluencies

In Toasmasters, you learn to be aware of speech disfluencies and how to eliminate them. Speech disfluency is any of various breaks, irregularities, or non-lexical vocables that occur within the flow of otherwise fluent speech. These include false starts, sentences that are cut off mid-utterance, phrases that are restarted or repeated, repeated syllables, and fillers. Some examples are: uh, erm, um, well, you know, and anyways.

 

Join a Club!

Of course, the Toastmasters educational program only makes sense from a club perspective. Speaking and leadership skills cannot be learned in isolation. To get the full benefit of the Toastmasters experience, you have to join a club! 

During the club meetings you also learn how to deliver brief impromptu speeches. These are on-the-spot speeches, as opposed to prepared/rehearsed speeches. I vividly remember a time when a senior executive stopped by my desk and asked me a spontaneous question. I got very surprised and nervous, but then I remembered the skills I learned from Toastmasters, and I was able to articulate a very professional and sound response.

Some clubs meet early in the morning, before going to work. Other clubs meet during lunch time for one hour at a specific corporation, while they allow both employees and non-employees to join. Still others meet at night, usually for two hours. Some clubs meet once a week, others twice a month, and others once a month.

Most major cities in the world have at least one Toastmasters club. For instance, in the area of Hollywood, California there are 6 clubs; and in the area of Newport Beach, California there are 9 clubs. There are also 9 clubs in Santa Monica, California.

Although all clubs follow the same guidelines, each club has its own culture. I recommend you visit about 5 clubs, and then decide which club you feel most comfortable with.

People who have joined Toastmasters based on my recommendation have told me that this was one of the best advices they’ve received for both their career and their personal life.

 

 

Are you ready to be part of Toastmasters and enhance your leadership skills? Please post a comment below. Thank you.

For more information, visit http://www.toastmasters.org.

 

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Ideas are the true currency of the twenty-first century. So, in order to succeed you need to be able to sell yourself and your ideas persuasively. The ability to sell yourself and your ideas is the single greatest skill that will help you accomplish your dreams. TED Talks have redefined the elements of a successful presentation and become the gold standard for public speaking. TED—which stands for technology, entertainment, and design—brings together the world’s leading innovators and thinkers. Their online presentations have been viewed more than a billion times. These are the presentations that set the world on fire, and the techniques that top TED speakers use are the same ones that will make any presentation more dynamic, fire up any team, and give anyone the confidence to overcome their fear of public speaking.

Public speaking coach and bestselling author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Carmine Gallo has broken down hundreds of TED talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters as well as the top researchers in the fields of psychology, communications, and neuroscience to get their cutting-edge insights and to reveal the nine secrets of all successful TED presentations. From "Unleash the Master Within" and "Deliver Jaw-Dropping Moments" to "Stick to the 18-minute Rule," Gallo provides a step-by-step method that makes it possible for anyone to create, design, and deliver a TED-style presentation that is engaging, persuasive, and memorable.

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