It has been said that Public Speaking is the greatest fear of most people. This is very unfortunate, because public speaking is probably the ultimate tool that can be used to establish your Personal Brand. Actually, getting to the point where you are sought after to speak publicly signals that you have accomplished the ultimate goal of Personal Branding – achieving “Brand Leadership”. According to www.businessdictionary.com Brand Leadership is defined as becoming the “....Most widely....recognized product in a particular market segment....” The kids these days would call that being a “Boss”.
So what do you do if you are ready to take that step into the Public Speaking “arena”, but you have yet to conquer the fear? Well one strategy is to just find an audience and start speaking. Even if you could find the courage to do that, how do you find a willing audience if you have yet to become a sought after spokesperson? Since 1924 many aspiring orators have joined Toastmasters International as a resource to use for “….developing public speaking and leadership skills through practice and feedback in local clubs….”
Toastmasters succeeds in empowering speakers by providing them with constructive audience feedback in an environment of mutual encouragement. According to their website www.toastmasters.org “A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere.” Over time, members progress towards the goal of becoming a “Competent Communicator” by:
1) Utilizing the constructive Feedback provided through peer Evaluations.
2) Confronting their fears by regularly making impromptu presentations.
3) Managing the various aspects of making effective presentations by Conducting Meetings.
4) Progressing through the self-paced “Competent Communication Manual”.
The Competent Communication Manual is the essential foundation of the Toastmasters program.
I recently visited a local Toastmasters Club in order to witness the process firsthand. I was invited to the Cascade United Toastmasters Club by their newly elected Vice President of Membership, Ms. Alison Gibson. It was clear to me that the Toastmasters method was effective in helping members to manage their fear of public speaking and build their communication skills. The reasons why each individual joins Toastmasters are different. In Alison’s case, she proclaims that she wanted to among other things “....improve my listening skills....”
Joining a Toastmaster Club is a very straightforward process. There are essentially 3 Steps:
Step 1; Find/Visit a Club www.toastmasters.org/findaclub
Step 2; Ask the Vice President of Membership for an application.
Step 3; Return the completed application and dues to the VP of Membership.
There is a customary $20 New Members Fee, plus a $36 bi-annual International Dues payment. There may also be club dues, which vary from club to club.
Personally, I found the experience to be as advertised. I was even drafted into service to give feedback about different aspects of the meeting. For most people, the combination of immersion, participation, support and encouragement has proven to be an effective method for alleviating the fear of public speaking and acquiring the necessary skills to become a competent public communicator. Consistently engaging in this process should ultimately lead to gaining the tools needed to become an in-demand public presenter and cementing your Personal Brand Leadership.
To learn more please visit www.toastmasters.org