When I first joined Toastmasters, I was looking for opportunities to learn from the masters. I thought that this organization has gurus who have mastered public speaking.
You will not find a master or a teacher in Toastmasters.
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Some clubs have veteran Toastmasters you may ask to mentor you. These are people who have delivered dozens of speeches. They have some valuable advice to offer you about public speaking.
They are not duty-bound to teach you. All Toastmasters pay the same amount of money for membership. Mentors don’t receive remunerations. They mentor people because they are paying forward. Or because they love to mentor people.
But not everyone who is willing to mentor others can really help. You have to see them in action and decide for yourself whether you’ll get valuable ideas from them.
Learning to speak in Toastmasters is a DIY project. I will advise people who need teachers before they can learn to join a Speaking school instead.
Some clubs have less than ten members and no one can mentor you. In this situation, you can accelerate your learning by watching videos you can find on the TI website. You may also visit other clubs where you will have an opportunity to meet a prospective mentor.
Our club has less than ten members too. But the club has three DTMs who are willing to mentor new members.
In my many years in Toastmasters, I sought the advice of two mentors: Vic Santiago and Brooks Loomis. Booth helped me see things clearly.
I can study even without a teacher. This is why Toastmasters work for me.
I get to apply the principles I learned from Toastmasters manuals and from professional speakers. I get feedback from members of the audience. Toastmasters experience is a laboratory of learning.
Still, I think Toastmasters is not for everyone. Joining whatever clubs near you is a mistake. Find clubs that can provide you with opportunities to grow. Find out if there are people who are willing and able to mentor you. Listen to the quality evaluations members give to speakers If all you hear are motherhood statements and praises, I will not encourage you to join.
Seek a club whose members will help you grow.
P.S. My next post is about receiving and giving feedback in Toastmasters. Some Toastmasters can give you a life-changing evaluation. Others are giving you the best they can though not much. You can learn from both. But there is something about evaluation that even the most veteran of Toastmasters don’t get. I will talk about that next.
PPS. Do you have questions on public speaking? Send your question to email@example.com