What are the benefits of Toastmasters during a pandemic?
Do you think there are any benefits of Toastmasters membership right now?
In the middle of a crisis, the one skill that everyone is looking at is communication. Here in the US, we’ve got a choir of voices telling us what’s going on, what we need to do right now, what we should do and when we should do it…
And when you listen to them, you’re deciding who you’re going to trust. What are you basing those decisions on?
It isn’t always their credentials. It isn’t always the message you want to hear so you’re not going to listen to anyone else. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling…
And how well those ideas are communicated to you.
Which is why there are some very great benefits to being in Toastmasters right now.
Are you afraid of public speaking? Do you avoid taking a leadership role? Is it time for you to overcome your fears and reach for your goals? Then Toastmasters is for you! In one hour a week, we can help you learn public speaking and leadership goals in a safe, inviting meeting and have fun while you do it! This is Toastmasters 101 podcast and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.
I was amused yesterday by a report that one of the experts that is giving daily press conferences about the pandemic. Apparently her frequent use of silk scarves is making a fashion come-back.
Can you hear my eyes roll? Really? Fashion statement? Not what she was talking about? Her CLOTHING?
I guess it’s a slow news day for the fashion reporters.
But it got me thinking. Dr. Birx is communicating important information. She’s doing it very effectively. She’s a great speaker – no filler words, a clear voice with appropriate vocal variety, controlled body language.
Her person – her personality comes across professionally and commands respect. We want to listen to her.
I don’t know that Deborah Birx was ever a Toastmaster, but she demonstrates why being in Toastmasters right now is a smart choice.
I’ve got three top reasons why you should join or continue in Toastmasters right now.
Benefits of Toastmasters #1: Relationships
Number 1. Relationships depend on communication.
You can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t communicate with. In fact, that’s the definition of non-relationship – no communication with them.
But communicating sometimes goes wrong. Like when I used to ask my daughter if she’d like to clean the kitchen after dinner.
I think I’m asking her to do it. What she hears is “would you like to…” which, of course, is not something she’d like to do.
Toastmasters’ focus on communication does tend to be more professional – public speaking, addressing groups, not so much personal. But I’ve learned a lot from Toastmasters about interpersonal communication. The power of listening and responding instead of planning my response while the other person is still speaking.
When I go online for meetings – whether with my clients or with my family members – I need very precise communication skills. There’s a special set of skills to manage communication on a conference call, you might call it protocols to make sure you’re not talking over each other and you can hear each other clearly.
Is it only me or is the first 10 minutes of every conference call or online meeting about everyone getting their computer sound system and camera working properly?
Practice and Risk
Toastmasters gives you a place to practice without risk. Before you go online with an interview for a new job, you can join Toastmasters while we’re online and get some tips and practice to be able to show your best these potential employers.
I just saw that the United States Supreme Court is going to hold hearings next week – on a conference call. If you’re an attorney and this may be your first time presenting before the United States’ highest court – you better believe those lawyers are going to practice. So should you.
You need to build a relationship with that recruiter or interviewer and it’s doubly hard on a screen where your physical presence and body language, which usually conveys so much, is muted because of the size of the screen.
Benefits of Toastmasters #2
Your career isn’t on hold just because of social distancing.
While millions of people in Ohio alone – in District 10 alone – are staying home to reduce the spread of the virus, your career isn’t on hold because of social distancing.
I think it’s a mistake to think nothing is changing in your job or your job prospects due to this pandemic. The world is never the same after a crisis of this magnitude. Study history. We’ve seen pandemics before. It’s up to us to be sure that we’re ready for the changes.
What hasn’t changed is that you’re going to need a job once we get back out of the house – or you’ll want to get back to your job in the way that you want to work.
Social distancing has created a new dynamic in how we work. Will that last past this year? I think it will have a strong impact on some of us for a long time… if not the rest of our lives. But whether or not we greet one another with a handshake is just one minor convention that’s going to change. We are the ones who will develop our new ways of working. Some edicts might come down from our bosses or companies, but when it comes to our work, we’re going to know what we need and how to make it work. How will you make your bosses understand?
You Can Manage the Changes in Your Career
That’s only a couple of the ways you have to face the changes in your career. But you’re going to need some leadership skills to help yourself and others move forward.
Leadership doesn’t just happen. You build your leadership skills on your ability to communicate. When you think about it – if you can’t communicate, you can’t lead. You have to be able to express your ideas in order to create a desire in others.
Toastmasters has a sneaky way of teaching leadership skills. Right from the start, we introduce leadership skills to the new member with subtle opportunities. It’s one of the benefits of Toastmasters. You don’t even recognize it for a while… but it slowly grows on you. You’ll start taking on bigger and more significant roles over time. You will discover you have influence and gain authority through your ability to speak.
Deborah Birx has become a leader because she’s done the work. You and I need to do the same and there’s going to be a lot of work to do as this crisis passes.
And this too will pass, which is my number 3.
Benefits of Toastmasters #3
Use your time well.
Toastmasters is usually one hour a week. In some districts, it’s more common to have 2 meetings a month that are longer than a month. How your club manages its meetings doesn’t matter as long as they are meeting and you are there.
I’ll confess, I don’t love these online meetings yet. I miss the physical presence of my fellow members. I often will come out of a meeting more charged and inspired than I started with because of my time spent with my friends. I don’t feel that same energy in an online meeting.
But I’m not giving up on them. I’ll be at my meetings as much as possible right now because I’m committed to using my time wisely right now. It’s hard to believe that I will someday look back at this time and wish I’d used it better – but I probably will. Not that I want another shelter-at-home order in my lifetime.
Content Creation vs. Content Consumption
Let me ask you to reconsider this time, not as a pause, but as a renaissance. That period of time we call the Renaissance in Europe – 1300 to about 1600 – also had its pandemics. The Black Death pandemic raged and Leonardo da Vinci and Shakespeare both created works of art that have transcended the ages.
Instead of just being a consumer of content, right now is the time for you to become the artist – the creator.
I know, I sound like a privileged nut. You may have to worry about how you’re going to pay for your housing and your food next week. How can I tell you to paint a picture or write a play?
I’m not, not really. What I’m asking you to think about is creating your future for yourself now. Create the skills that you’ll need in the future. Don’t sit around and watch videos –learn the skills you need to create and edit a video. Do something that invests in yourself and in others.
Get to your Toastmasters meeting! Join a Toastmasters club now!
Get to your Toastmasters meetings online and take an active role now. You won’t regret it in the future.
We’re not all going to be a Deborah Birx in the future, or Leonardo da Vinci or Shakespeare. But we can improve our lives by joining Toastmasters now or by continuing our Toastmasters experience.
Toastmasters 101 is podcast production of Toastmasters District 10.
Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io.
Stay healthy. Stay hopeful. Stay home.