After the honeymoon is over and the rush of passion has given way to stable, mature love – what do you do to reignite the spark that drew you to Toastmasters in the first place? Like any relationship, the passage of time may take you from the emotional rush of wine and roses to a humdrum evening on the couch watching TV. So it is important to work hard and keep the proverbial fires burning. How do you do that?
Rev up your Toastmasters engine with these 10 tips:
1. Ask yourself: Why did I join Toastmasters? Was it to meet new people or work on your fear of public speaking? Or maybe it was to improve your English or learn how to chair a meeting? Perhaps you have met this initial goal and now it’s time to a set a new one. For example, let’s say you joined to conquer your public speaking fears. Now months (or even years) later, you no longer dread giving presentations at work or taking part in Table Topics. It’s time to take it to the next level. Look for fresh opportunities for exhilarating motivation.
2. Mentor another member. Now that you are comfortable with your Toastmasters activities, it is time to share your time, experience and knowledge with other people. You could start by mentoring a fellow member in your club. Mentoring someone provides an invaluable gift to that person and gives you something valuable in return – a unique relationship where one person leads and another follows but both depend on each other. Toastmasters has some great educational materials that can help you, such as the “Mentoring” module from the Successful Club Series.
Rae Stonehouse, DTM, is a 16-year Toastmasters member who has served as a district governor and mentored dozens of people over the years. “One of the most touching moments in my life occurred at a staff meeting at my workplace, as a result of Toastmasters mentoring,” says Stonehouse, a member of two clubs in British Columbia, Canada. “I work as a registered nurse in a community psychiatric facility, and have mentored several of my co-workers over the years, helping them with self-actualizing.”
3. Attend the International Convention or a district conference. Attending or volunteering at a district conference or the International Convention is one of the most enriching experiences you will find in Toastmasters. Listening to contest participants and winners will fill you with new admiration for what is possible. It might also fuel your own desire to compete. You’ll meet and connect with an amazing community of people that shares your passion for communication, leadership and teamwork – truly, friends you haven’t met yet. To learn more about the Toastmasters International Convention, visit www.toastmasters.org/2012Convention.
4. Work toward your educational goals. It’s easy to lose interest in something when you don’t have specific goals to work toward. You’ll find a renewed sense of pride every time you accomplish a goal. People sometimes lose momentum in Toastmasters before they have even achieved the level of Competent Communicator. Many advanced Toastmasters stay motivated by planning their speeches well ahead of time. For example, you could arrange with your vice president education to do a speech every two, three or four weeks. That way you’ll always have a finish line to work toward.
5. Repeat an educational level. Breathing new life into a relationship can be as simple as getting back to basics. Many advanced Toastmasters repeat the Competent Communication manual because it gives them even greater challenges the second time around. If you have already completed your ACS or ACG and need a new challenge (other than working toward your DTM, of course), why not repeat your CC? Or you can repeat an advanced level. Did you know that there are 15 advanced manuals to teach you specialized skills in areas such as public relations and storytelling? Have you tried them all? Find something new to learn at www.toastmasters.org/shop.
One Toastmaster who has enjoyed a devoted, long-term relationship with Toastmasters International is Barry Monaghan, DTM. He is a member of two clubs in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is working on his third DTM. On the subject of repeating educational goals, he says, “I am quite sane, I assure you! The reason I continue my Toastmasters journey is that there is always something new to learn.
“Toastmasters isn’t just about public speaking, or even leadership. What I learn from others and the stories our members have to share is what keeps me coming back. Toastmasters has some of the most interesting people, and they have lots of very colorful and amazing stories to tell.”
6. Get involved as a club executive. Have you ever complained about how things are done at your club? It’s easy to do, especially if you have been a member for some time, but perhaps you’ve managed to stay out of the inner circle. Well, what’s stopping you? If you feel that your club experience is getting stale, then why not open up your experience and let in some fresh air? Remember: You’ll enjoy the side benefit of building closer bonds with the other executive members.
7. Take part in a Speechcraft program in your community. An essential part of any Toastmasters experience is community outreach. Speechcraft programs allow you to improve your public speaking skills, give back to your community and – most importantly – go beyond your comfort zone. You are sharing a valuable gift: your passion and enthusiasm for Toastmasters International. Perhaps one of your students will embark on a new relationship with Toastmasters. Discuss Speechcraft with your club, and discover how your group can present this program. Speechcraft workshops take place in a wide variety of settings, from community centers to high schools.
8. Sponsor, mentor or coach a club. While mentoring a new member in your club is a satisfying experience, exercising your leadership skills within a larger context is the next step. Whether you decide to sponsor a new club, mentor a club from its inception or coach a struggling club, you are taking part in something significant and inspiring. That is why Toastmasters International makes this activity a requirement to achieve your Advanced Leadership Silver designation.
9. Lead a “Moments of Truth” education session at your club. Without a doubt, the single most important education session in the Toastmasters repertoire is the “Moments of Truth” section of the Successful Club Series. It is considered to be so important, in fact, that you can download the materials from the Toastmasters International Web site free of charge. It would be impossible to sit through a session without feeling invigorated. Being the facilitator means that you will also gain a great sense of clarity about the program while sharing its information with your Toastmasters friends and family.
10. Volunteer to become a trainer. You may have attended club officer training or your district’s last Toastmasters Leadership Institute, but have you ever been a trainer at one? It is a completely different learning experience. If you have held a club officer’s position before, then why not speak to your district leaders about becoming a trainer? You can help other people put their best foot forward in that same position. Or if you prefer to stay within your club, you can teach one of the modules from Toastmasters International’s Better Speaker Series, Successful Club Series or Leadership Excellence Series. Not only will you learn valuable facilitation skills, but you’ll be able to practice interacting with your students and weaving your personal experiences into the material provided.
The four pillars of any healthy relationship are communication, trust, collaboration and commitment. Sound familiar? Of course they do, because they also form the basis for the Toastmasters experience. Just like in a real relationship, you need to go beyond your own needs and wants. Over the years you learn that love isn’t about romantic meals or expensive gifts; it’s about an unselfish, boundless enthusiasm for time spent with your beloved. So rekindle the flames of your relationship with Toastmasters International and enjoy a life of abundance and bliss.
Narges Nirumvala, BSc, ACB, CL, is a member of Fyrebyrde Toastmasters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Narges is a freelance writer, blogger and speaker. She can be reached at www.nargesnirumvala.com.