You’re reading this blog so I guess you must have some interest in Windsor Speakers. In today’s blog I’ll share with you why I joined Windsor Speakers and the additional benefits I gained I was not expecting.
We’ll look at speaking improvement, speech writing, leadership and the friends you can make.
Improving my Speaking
As with many other members I joined Toastmasters to increase my confidence speaking in front of large groups. I didn’t know why I was sometimes very comfortable doing this but at other times I would feel rather anxious. I just wanted to be in that place of consistently feeling confident.
The interesting thing I have learnt is that there is no silver bullet; you will always feel some nerves, but importantly it is how you manage them and Toastmasters has really helped me with that. I also think the focus Toastmasters puts on the speech being all about the audience and not you is really helpful too. When you focus on ensuring you are giving something of value to the audience your focus moves away from yourself to the message.
Practice is an important element of raising your confidence. Toastmasters really reinforce the value of practice. If you know your material really well you will feel more at ease. I used to think some people were just really confident but I’ve learnt we can all become more confident if we know we have put the groundwork in with practice.
Working through the Toastmasters Pathway and volunteering for roles at club meetings you find yourself gradually pushing on the boundaries of your comfort zone. Everyone is experiencing or has experienced the same thing so it is a very supportive environment. You get a real sense of achievement each time you have delivered a speech, evaluation, or role at a meeting if you know you have done it to the best of your ability. It doesn’t matter if you were not perfect; for me it’s all about learning and improving.
At toastmasters we are encouraged to give speeches without notes or few notes. This can be daunting at first but it means you just need to practice more. If you can give speeches at Toastmasters with no notes when you are in other contexts like at work with slides – it should be easy in comparison.
I’ve been surprised that I really enjoy the process of writing speeches. I feel especially proud if an evaluator comments on the structure and content. The better you get at writing your speeches and structuring them simply, the easier they are to learn and deliver.
There is great value to be found from the Toastmasters magazine, Podcasts and of course the Pathways guidance and videos to give you hints and tips. Due to Covid19 many people have been able to attend the conferences virtually and again there has been a wealth of examples and guidance sessions in them to improve these skills.
When I joined Toastmasters my focus was on the speaking but I have realised Toastmasters is also great for developing your leadership skills. I’m on one of the leadership Pathways, but even if you are on one of the other Pathways you are still learning leadership skills by taking on roles at the meetings. Plus you can also lead your club via committee roles which I’ve also found both interesting and helpful in my development.
Another aspect of Toastmasters I hadn’t expected was the friends you make. Windsor is a nice size club so you get to know everyone. I have found everyone to be really supportive and I would call all the members friends.
So if you want to improve you speaking or leadership skills in a friendly supportive atmosphere I would thoroughly recommend joining Toastmasters, especially Windsor Speakers.