This program helps others, yourself and your club.
By Kate Parker, ATM-B
Joining Toastmasters was a smart move. As professional speaker Patricia Fripp says, “If you can stand up and speak eloquently, or even stagger to your feet and say anything at all, you are heads above your competition.” Have you given any thought to your next step in personal growth? I suggest you become a mentor to many by starting a Speechcraft program within your company or organization.
What is Speechcraft? It is public speaking immersion training of limited duration. It is the most efficient vehicle I know to promote personal and professional growth while helping others. Facilitating this training will uniquely prepare you for increased and broadened responsibilities in the workplace and in your community. Businesses and organizations seek out and promote individuals with good communication and organization skills. The Speechcraft participants you mentor will also experience fast-track growth with their new skills and confidence.
Sounds like a great program, you say, but isn’t it complicated? A successful Speechcraft is not difficult, but it does require basic organization. With the simple steps outlined below and Toastmasters’ time-tested Success/Communication Series Speechcraft guides, the format is easy to follow. Just add your own brand of enthusiasm for guaranteed results.
- Prepare your support system. Familiarize yourself with the Speechcraft Coordinator’s and Speechcrafter’s Handbook from Toastmasters International.
Gather your helpers. Although the facilitator carries the lion’s (or lioness’) share of responsibility, a quality Speechcraft program will involve club members participating in various meeting roles. Why not involve other clubs in your area? Everyone will benefit.
Choose your format. Our club has chosen a 10-week structure outside of our regular club meeting with participants practicing all the regular Toastmasters club roles.
- Find an “inside” connection. Look for someone in the target organization who is interested in promoting improved communication. Try personnel, the director or owner, or perhaps a department head. With his or her help, determine the employees’ interest level.
Discuss financial arrangements. Our club charges $25 per person for the entire 10 weeks.
Find an appropriate location, day, time and date to begin. Produce a flier promoting your event and distribute it at least one month before the actual starting date. Request an RSVP so you can plan adequate space and refreshments.
- Gather your materials. I supply each Speechcraft participant with a folder containing: a Speechcrafter’s Handbook, the A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats pamphlet, an invoice, a meeting outline, a weekly schedule of duties, a group contact list and my business card. I also make available topical articles gathered from the Toastmaster magazine as an additional resource material.
- Hold a demonstration meeting. Our first Speechcraft session is a non-threatening, “come-and-watch” opportunity where Toastmasters and former Speechcraft graduates enact a typical meeting before the potential Speechcraft participants. This is a critical step for turning interest into commitment. Have a variety of skill levels represented, run a tight ship, and show how learning can be a lot of fun! Allow plenty of time for questions at the end, and finally get a commitment from 12 interested attendees. Hand out the folders and let new Speechcrafters choose their roles for the next class.
- And we’re off… In our format, nine Speechcraft meetings will follow. Although each group is unique, here are a few tips for a high graduation rate:
- Remember to breathe! Keep the meetings instructive, professional, positive and above all, have fun!
- Adapt the curriculum to your needs. In nine weeks, our participants speak three times and evaluate three times. Most will also serve as Toastmaster, General Evaluator, Grammarian, and Table Topicsmaster. Speechcrafters give an Ice Breaker, an “Organize Your Speech” and “Show What You Mean” speech.
- Touch base with each participant between meetings as needed.
- Be flexible. If someone cannot come one week, reshuffle your schedule.
- Consider hosting a potluck or brown-bag dinner before each meeting. Breaking bread together promotes bonding and improves after-work attendance.
- Graduation. Celebrate success! We begin our last meeting with a special meal and end it with a certificate presentation ceremony to which friends and family are invited. This is a perfect time to promote Toastmasters club membership as the next logical step. Provide a list of all area clubs and bring a stack of membership applications. Consider taking a group photo, providing a copy for each participant.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a domestic engineer, computer technician, bus driver, customer service representative or retiree, facilitating or participating in a Speechcraft program will improve your communication and leadership skills. Helping others to improve their abilities could be the next step in your own personal growth. Are you ready to mentor others? Try Speechcraft!
Are you ready to get started? Order the Speechcraft Starter Kit today!
Kate Parker, ATM-B, is a member of Springfield Club 3825-7 in Eugene, Oregon.