One of the thigs I really enjoy is when I can help someone to do something they have held back from or perhaps had never recognised themselves as being capable of doing. Such opportunities are present in abundance in Toastmasters. As discussed earlier in part two, every time you are an Evaluator you have an opportunity to help someone imagine how much greater they can become through constructive feedback. However, you don’t have to be performing as an evaluator to achieve this.
As a member of Toastmasters, you can encourage guests, newer members, regular members and even advanced members to step up a level. I was told recently by an advanced speaker that an evaluation I had given him was one of the best he’d received for a while! I was quite pleased considering I was a bit anxious about evaluating someone that was way more advanced through the Toastmasters programme than I was and that I had been asked on the night with little time to study the evaluation criteria for the speech project.
The main point I wanted to talk about however, is helping people that need some gentle encouragement to believe in themselves enough to take that important step forward from not feeling able to going ahead and doing whatever it is that they’ve been holding off from doing. Prior to my last Toastmasters meeting, I had the opportunity to exercise this as an experienced member of Toastmasters to a new member of Toastmasters.
I had responded to an email from a new, acutely shy member – at least as far as taking on her first role was concerned, that had so far avoided performing any role or giving a prepared speech in our club so far. She was a recipient of an email broadcast that I had sent to everyone that was on the schedule for the upcoming meeting, whether they were registered just as an attendee or as performing a role or speech. I was seeking an answer from the people scheduled for roles and speeches that I could use to introduce them during my role as Toastmaster. Receiving this email, our shy member had thought perhaps someone had scheduled her in to perform a role that evening and wanted to check she was not scheduled in.
I took the opportunity to reassure her that she was not scheduled into a role. I could have stopped there, but I didn’t. I proceeded to encourage her to schedule herself in for her Ice-breaker speech – the first speech project in the Toastmasters Competent Communication Manual. I explained that it was a good way for her to get started as she’d be speaking on a subject that she knows best – something about herself. I also offered to help or answer any questions she may have. That was all the encouragement she needed. Shortly after the upcoming meeting, I was pleased to see that she’d scheduled herself in for her Ice-breaker speech at the following club meeting. And she followed through and has scheduled herself in for a functionary role in an upcoming meeting!
So another benefit of Toastmasters – Enabling Others!