Archive for the ‘Toastmasters’ Category
Yesterday I was at Area contest – 57 with the most simplistic role play of Chief Judge. Simple off course that’s what I believe; until I found a detour.
I believe every role play is simple and straight forward until you find a detour. Because in times like these is the test of your capacity to extend justice to the role play. And yesterday was the day I found two detours. Having said that incidences like these bring in the learning and maturity.
Yesterday I learnet few things:
- When briefing don’t assume your team knows or would remember everything. Hence share important instructions even at the extent of sounding trite and boring.
- Request for feedback after sharing instructions.
- Invite questions on the role play. And if no question is forthcoming and to encourage initiative, bundle important information in a question format such as “I am sure you are aware that your ballot will be rejected if it does not carry your signature?”
- Invite suggestions and caveats from your team members. Trust the wisdom of Crowd Sourcing.
- Finally write down the list of instructions on a piece of paper you would like to share after all I don’t expect myself to remember it verbatim.
Wishing you a superb day ahead.
This evening it was a treat listening to TM Sudhir Menon delivering “MOMENTS OF TRUTH” at Al Nahda TM Club and thereafter eating fish/potato snacks brought in by a member TM was the “Moments of Truth”.
I was reminded of my Grand Mother – god bless her soul she is no more. She was a very lively lady running a joint family of 6 sons and a daughter. It is a big joint family and whenever we visited her I would see a continuous stream of visitors during the day. And my Grandmother was never tired of being the perfect host. But sometime it irritated her sons.
If someone appeared on the doorsteps she would gladly invite them inside the house and offer juice or Tea. Rule # 1 was no visitors casual or otherwise should leave from the door.
And if the visitor was a close acquaintance she would greet her with a mile long smile and invite her inside the house. If he was a first time visitor he would be given the tour of the house and then made comfortable on bed made of jute rope (In Punjabi this bed is called Manjee) spread in the verandah. He would be served Tea, juice followed by the meal of the day. The kitchen was a 24 hours routine with Tea on the fire.
She would listen intently to the guest and enquire about guest’s kins by name. Narrate them the stories and when it was time to leave she would pack few parathas or achar for the guest and entreat them to visit sooner. She did not go to school but by the current standards she had a Phd in the “Art of Hospitality.” And when I look back I am not surprised that people loved to visit my Grandmother’s house. And perhaps that was one of the reason that she kept the joint family together.
She was a perfect embodiment of “Moments of Truth.” When I dissect her routine, it reflects the secret recipe of winning and retaining members in toastmasters Program. And if I may dissect it into a “10” point program; it will reflect…
- No Guest should leave your meeting without getting the VIP treatment. Guests are the life line of club because they reflect membership growth.
- When Guest walks in he is greeted with a mile long smile and welcomed.
- Guest is taken around and introduced to the Excom and other members of the club and left in the company of a senior member to take care. Guest is never left unattended and offered Tea/Coffee first.
- Give a patient hearing to the Guest conversation.
- Guest is made comfortable by asking questions of his interest.
- Guest is narrated success stories of the members’ growth.
- Guest is given the snap shot of Toastmasters program
- Guest is asked to join or asked to return for the next meeting and his contact details taken.
- Guest feedback is requested, formal or informal and documented.
- Create a guest kit and hand it over to him after the meeting.
The ultimate objective is to make your guest feel at HOME; after all Toastmasters are a BIG JOINT FAMILY.
A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements and Toastmasters Clubs across Division – F decided to send in their winners to Division – F “Tall Tale contest” to indulge in fantasy, dreams and aspirations. However tall they were, the intent was to entertain the audience. And stretch their brain muscles with stretched stories. Watch the part – 4 of the Tall Tale contest held at Dubai Knowledge Village on Sept. 28, 2012 .
There were “14” contestants and am publishing the next part # 4 watch for the rest tomorrow morning. Enjoy watching…….
The Toastmasters organization is around 84 years old, but amazingly it is growing younger every day. There was a time only MALE population above the age of 18 could participate and sometime in 1971 the forum was opened to women but off-course for the ladies above the 18 years.
Much later members debated and the opportunity was extended to younger generation under 18 years; under an exciting word called Gavel …”Gavels Club”. Now you observe Gavel clubs in numerous schools and it’s an education to watch the younger generation sharpening their saw in communication and leadership skills. The simple premise for the Toastmasters movement is “age is no bar for sharpening your communications and leadership skills.” You may be 8 years old or 80 years young; you have the right to join Toastmasters forum.
I am a strong proponent of Toastmasters activities and I realized the real benefits after I started visiting and sharing my experience in non – Toastmasters forums and activities. I realized why there is no failure in Toastmasters but LESSONS; that’s the spirit with which members grow in Toastmasters. In a typical crisp statement; members empty their cup. Members begin unlearning old habits to LEARN new habits.
- Members unlearn their stage fright.
- Members unlearn their confused & stagnant mindset.
- Members unlearn being introvert.
- Members unlearn the art of speaking monotonously.
- Members unlearn the power to ignore good body language.
- Members unlearn the power to ignore the power of time management.
- Members unlearn the power to be ignorant of good habits that matters most.
Members may unlearn the old habits but they are replaced by better habits. I always wondered, what is the trigger for such a change; when change is difficult ? Until I read the literature highlighting research. And I would like to share two of them.
- The first experiment was conducted between two groups of students; group A participants were asked to appear for a test and participants in group B were given a candy each just before they entered the exam hall. The result reflected that people who received candy before the exam performed better than the batch who was simply asked to appear for the test.
- In the second experiment the research group conducted a test in the classroom. When the result arrived they simply instructed the teacher that student A, B and C were exceptional students. But also reprimanded teacher not to show any favoritism in their behavior or school work towards the bright students. A year later once again they conducted the test and amazingly students A, B and C performed much better than other students in the class. The icing on the cake is that the result earlier in the year had reflected them as average students. How come sudden improvement in the three students when teachers had refrained from giving any favours ? It only goes to prove that somehow the teacher had outwardly or inwardly reflected appreciation of the students. And that sub- conscious appreciation had impacted their performance.
The above two experiments and many other prove beyond any doubt that motivation, encouragement, compliments and happy positive environment produces better and faster results from the participants . And Toastmasters values reflect and practice the said principals. Consequently members in Toastmasters grow by leaps and bounds. There are no failures but lessons in Toastmasters.
March 4, 2012: Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization engaged in developing public speaking and leadership skills amongst its members. The organization is for the members, by the members and of the members. And one of the objective of the program is to spread the benefit by inducting new members.
Every club has the mandate to induct new members and the new member’s effort is reflected in the club’s DCP points. On the flip side, District officer’s performances are measured by different criteria, including number of new clubs being set up. To achieve the milestone you must sell the programs benefit to new members to join the clubs and corporate communities to set up new clubs.
The simple process includes selling the benefits of toastmasters program and it’s a natural progression that takes its natural time period. But what if you can hasten the process by influencing their mindsets and help members devote extra time on improving club activities and performance.
I believe you can hasten the process by influencing guest’s decision. And here I would share “6” pillars of influence identified by guru of persuasion Dr. Robert B. Cialdini and they are
- Consensus and Commitment
- Social power
RECIPROCATION: We are programmed to pay back a favor and it’s in our DNA. Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said “Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill”.
TIP :When you invite guests, give them the Toastmasters magazine and or guest kits to take back and read. Make them comfortable and let a senior Ex-Com member explain the program to him. Ask him if he needs any other clarifications. Treat the guest as you would a friend and if required arrange to drop him back at his residence.
CONSENSUS AND COMMITMENT: We as humans have an excessive desire to be consistent with what we have already done or said.
TIP :Get feedback from your guests at the end of the meeting and let them fill out a feedback form that will also ask for them to write down what they liked about the program.
SOCIAL PROOF: If everyone is doing it, it is correct.
TIP : Share with your guests the Toastmasters activities in your territory and globally; there are 96 Clubs in UAE and 110,000 clubs worldwide in over 90 plus countries. Invite them to Area contests, Divisions contests and let them observe the powers of participation and performance.
SCARCITY: Hard to get things are perceived to be better than easy to get things.
TIP : Make your guest comfortable, and introduce the program clarifying all the doubts. Invite them to join but make them aware that since this is members club, the membership is subject to concurrence by all the members.
AUTHORITY: People tend to obey authoritative figures.
TIP : Introduce your guests to the Club president, VP Education, ACM, DTM and let them do the selling. If you have an important guest visiting, invite your Area Governor or Division Governor and introduce your guest to them. A pitch coming in from an authority figure influences.
LIKE: People say yes to people they like or know. People also like people that have something in common with them.
TIP : Find something in common with your guests and start your conversation with this as your basis; it could be school, college, place of residence or anything that becomes an ice breaker.
Getting new members and setting up new clubs are part of the leadership development and the more effectively you perform this activity, the better leader you emerge. Use the powers of the six pillars of influence to maximize the positive outcome. Reciprocate; commitment and consensuses; Authority; Scarcity; Like and use the Social proof.
Toastmasters Club Contests are an absorbing activity for every Club Excom. They are a necessary evil that must be organized to encourage competition, take the speakers to the next level and perhaps give them a jump start. In other words contest is paramount in Toastmasters program; they are a shortcut to faster and bigger improvements.
If contests are paramount why there are no identified structured training programs for Excom, to conduct contests? Rather the contests are organized with little experience gathered from past experiences. Organizing club contest attracts challenges of different colors such as
- Finding Contestants.
- Contestants training and awareness.
- Judges: Finding judges; qualified and numbers.
- Role players: Trained role players.
- Resources: Venue, Documentation; Trophies; Certificates and Awards
Having said that I believe that any contest phobia can be overcome by “five “activities and they are
- Planning: No sooner Excom is installed; the team should meet to decide on the most important date i.e contest dates and make an announcement to the club members and Area Governor. Then identify various activities for the contest.
- Timeline: Set timeline to complete identified activities.
- Delegation: Delegate identified activities such as TM1 for getting role plays ; TM2 for getting Judges; TM3 getting the resources; TM for getting contestants; TM4 for organizing the venue and others.
- Collaboration: Get Excom of “3” clubs involved and enter into an exchange program for Judges and role plays.
- Feedback: Set a feedback mechanism; monthly to start with and thereafter weekly, 60 days closer to the contest.
Once you complete Planning, Timeline; Delegation and Collaboration within first 15 days of the new term; half the battle is won. Now you can focus your attention on ensuring that you have a District Champion speaker.
Past International President Helen Blanchard once said “If you get out of Toastmasters all that there is to get out of Toastmasters, you will never get out of the Toastmasters”
Toastmasters’ program is a brilliant program that has benefited millions of members across the globe. It’s tailored to your lifestyle; progress as you want to progress. Having said that I would like to share “8” tips on getting the most out of Toastmasters Program..
- Read your manuals: Read your manuals; your CC, CL and other manuals received as joining kit. Underline and highlight content and draw your plan for the TM journey.
- Ask for a mentor: Request for a mentor, spend time to understand the program. Craft your projects and get your mentor guidance to improve and practice. For the senior members; create Smart group of 2 to 4 mentors and meet periodically to discuss your progress and feedback. And finally thank your mentor with a token of appreciation; coffee or a meal for every success. Let your mentor feel rewarded and make this a valuable experience for him. [we know TM is a non-profit organization but human sentiments prevail]
- Order complete set of manuals: Toastmasters is a wonderful program; every manual is treasure house. Order a complete set of “15” manuals, HPL manuals and craft your journey.
- Audit your stage time: The more quality time on the lectern, faster are the improvements. Hence audit your time on the lectern and explore areas that will allow you more time on the lectern. Maintain a log book.
- Feedback: Request feedback from key members on your deliveries and every role play. Winners feed on feedback.
- Retain written feedback and pin it to the respective project: Retain written feedback pinned to your project manuals and reference them often.
- Take up Excom role: Take up Excom role play specially President and Sergeant At Arms because they get time on the lectern in every meeting. Or take up other role plays to connect and learn to run team.
- Connect: TM forum has members from dfferent professional domain; business men, doctors, sales people, CEO, Managers and others. Connect and grow your network.
In conclusion I would reiterate; time is a scare commodity but your clever choices can double the impact of your time.
Running a full house in Toastmasters Club has become challenge but with right strategy and best practices you can run a successful Toastmasters club creating value and experience for the members. I am sharing “5” tips on getting the house full at Toastmasters club.
- Maintain records: Maintain records for the members to review at the meeting hall.
- Attendance register
- Role players list for the past meeting and role players list for the future four meetings.
- Minutes of the meetings
- Recognition: Recognize member’s achievements [Toastmasters, Professional and Personnel Achievements] and their special days during the meeting.
- Invite the key influencers: If you want to get a gathering of 50 people it’s not important that that you talk to 100 people and invite them to your club. Identify key “10” key influencers who have a serious larger circle of influence, to influence serious “50” other members. Give them the reasons why they should take up role play in your club or how their participation will help them. Then use their Klout to get houseful. Event managers are familiar with this methodology, hence they use this methodology effectively by getting key influencers to participate and attract the larger audience for events.
- Phone: It’s important to keep in touch with your members and likely prospect through email, social media but periodically pick up the phone and call. The good old way of talking to key members helps to retain participation and increase membership. This has many fold advantage such as
- Get verbal commitment to attend and participate.
- Make members feel important and special
- Get members feedback
- Proactively address any (-ve) feedback and concerns.
- Toastmasters Process: Getting members to attend and participate regularly in the club meeting is a science. And with religious practice of process defined by the Toastmasters helps to achieve the objective. Hence read, practice and conduct educational session on increasing participation and getting new members.
Enjoy practicing and reading………
Sharjah Toastmasters Humorous speech club contest was held on Dec. 21, 2011. The contest reflected energy ,passion and the desire to stretch and strut.
- The participation in the humours contest was 100% more than the standard club meetings. Why ? I cannot comprehend the reason, still looking for the motivation.
- There were 9 humorous contestants and many to applaud their endeavors.
- The contest participation was overwhelming and contestants flexed their humour muscle stepping out of their comfort zone.
- The deliveries had creative topics and am sharing the “9” titles.
ii) Tom and Jerry
iii) Seek leave, Sick leave
iv) How and why TM came into my life
v) Mr Perplex
vi) Happily Married
vii) Living with Time Bomb
viii) End of the beginning
ix) Health & Time
My salute & hearty congratulations to the first time participants.
Enjoy watching contestants sail through.
If you like the article click “LIKE”
There is so much happening in Toastmasters activities in UAE that sometime you feel overwhelmed . I believe around 80 clubs spread out in seven Emirates; every day there is an event and every event is unique. If you become the member of Toastmasters fraternity in UAE; you immediately connect with around 2000 toastmasters members in UAE.
Enjoy watching photos from various clubs a Unity in diversity.