Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why join Toastmasters?

Are you familiar with Toastmasters? If not, I highly recommend that you check it out with an eye toward joining a club ( TM is an international speakers' club; everyone involved joins to improve their speaking skills, though their reasons for doing so may vary. Both of my parents were Toastmasters; my father used his TM skills in work on a daily basis, and he swore by it.

Here is my take on TM as an employer and consultant to employers, as well as a professional speaker who used to really, really stink at giving even just a 5-minute speech:

"Why participate in Toastmasters?"

1. Self-confidence. Mastering an audience's emotions and interest during a speech will leave you feeling like superman for a couple of weeks. Those will be very productive weeks at work. Your boss, clients, and prospects will all notice the difference, and they will like what they see.

2. Resume. I tell every employer I work with to strongly encourage TM participation among their up-and-coming leaders. Nothing will develop you professionally like being an accomplished public speaker. Employers nationwide - actually, worldwide - agree with me when hiring and promoting. So I didn't make this up.

3. Getting rich, living like a rock star. There's always the chance you can turn your TM experience, coupled with your professional knowledge, into paid speaking gigs, TV appearances... Let me tell you from experience, from the first time you get paid two month's salary for giving a one-hour talk, your life will never be the same. Staying in four- and five-star hotels, having 60-year old CEOs ask you for advice... it's addictive.

I started TM when I was 37 or 38, and it's transformed my career. If I had known the benefits, I would have joined a club while still in college.