I was asked the other day what was the best career decision I ever made?
I did not have to stop and think, the answer is joining a Toastmasters Club.
I assume that most people reading this have heard of Toastmasters International.
It is a club that was founded in 1924 by Ralph Smedley where people learn how to speak to groups. There are now over 10,500 clubs in 90 countries. 200,000 active members participate in local groups of 20 to 30 people. Members take turns filling a variety of roles to execute the meetings, and everyone involved is given the opportunity to overcome nervousness and expand their abilities.
If you have never looked into joining a Toastmasters club, I suggest that you get off you fanny and look into this awesome organization. Most clubs meet weekly, and there is one near you (really!). I suggest you dedicate yourself to active participation for one year and then assess your progress. I have never met anyone who regularly attended their club for 12 months that did not sing the praises of the experience.
I met a sharp guy, Matt, in Phoenix this week while speaking for a large technology company. His office had a Toastmaster's Club (The Bridge Toastmasters), and he is an active member. He had already seen the value in his participation, and I could tell that Matt has much career success in his future, and his ability to speak well will only take him to higher levels. He was disappointed with a co-worker who viewed Toastmasters as a waste of time. We both agreed that one day this drone will realize he missed out on a chance to expand his career.
You can wait and wish that you were a better speaker. I have found the ability to talk to groups has brought me more business opportunity. I am assuming that if you read this blog, you are interested in expanding your career....so take my advice and join Toastmasters before the end of February.
I now speak professionally around the country for companies and organizations...but my speaking skills help me in other situations as well. Even if you do not want to be a paid speaker, you still should want to improve your communication. Toastmasters is the best way I know to improve yourself, regardless of your career, industry, etc...
If you are an active Toastmaster or an alumni, let me know about your experiences with Toastmasters by leaving a comment on this post.
Have A Great Day