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Communication - a Voyage of Experience

Posted October 20, 2010 6:38 PM by English Rose
Pathfinder Tags: communications Toastmasters

Introduction

I would like to add to this Engineering Communication blog tips that I have found useful and information about an organisation, Toastmasters International, that can help Engineers (and non-Engineers!) improve both their communication and leadership skills and thus their confidence in all spheres of life.

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank English Rose for sharing this blog entry. Our purpose is to bring you information about her experience with Toastmasters International, not to endorse this or any other organization that develops public speaking and leadership skills.

We all know how important these so-called "soft skills" are in our professional, personal and social lives. We also know that the various courses run to teach these skills are usually expensive and have limited opportunities for practice and improvement, since they are aimed more at imparting knowledge than developing skills in the limited time at their disposal.

So what would you do if you found out that for around £10/$15 per month you could have access to internationally respected teaching materials, gain internationally recognised awards and have more fun learning than you ever thought possible?

Membership of a Toastmasters International club can give you all this and so much more. I joined in 2007 and am completely hooked! I'm also embarrassingly evangelical about the benefits I get from my membership and so in this blog series, I shall share some of the tips for improving your (and my) communication and leadership skills; a bunch of tales on the fun, support and friendship experienced at meetings; and reasons why the best way to benefit from this blog is to find your local club and get stuck in!

The watchword of Toastmasters International is "learning by doing"; you can not learn to be a better communicator just by reading some articles or books, or even, I contend, by attending expensive seminars and workshops. It is regular standing up and doing it that makes the difference, coupled with specific, personal, kind feedback on where you can make things even better. Every Toastmasters International club offers both of these elements. There are over 12,500 clubs in 113 countries around the world, serving over 260,000 members, so there will be one reasonably close to you. If not, TI can help you start a group in your city, town or company so you can share the benefits with those around you.

In my next entry, I'll take a look at the business of speaking, structuring speeches and conveyance of ideas.

©ER Productions

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#1

Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/20/2010 8:26 PM

Excellent post. I need to look into this. The only thing you might have added is a link. Which I will do:

http://www.toastmasters.org/

I checked and there are nearly a dozen clubs within 25 miles of my home.

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#2
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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/21/2010 4:52 AM

Thanks - it was nearly midnight when I posted and I didn't notice the link in the OpenOffice document hadn't transferred. My edit rights had expired by this morning, so I contacted Moose, but he must still be in bed (no stamina! LOL).

Those in the US are fortunate in that the density of clubs there is very high. Until I started a club in my nearby city, I had to travel 60 miles to a club...but that's a later blog entry!

Let us know how you get on - guests are warmly welcomed at meetings and there is no charge until you join.

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#3

Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/21/2010 7:35 AM

Do you get marmalade with that?
Del
(scampers off really really quicky to most secret of secret cat nests...baaaad kitty)

But seriously though, it does sound good, although personally being a grade A show off I've always loved getting up infront of an audience. I did do a 'presentation skills' course once which was great fun and gave me some useful pointers.
(Did a presentation on how to shred cheese, that was gate fun too... oh I'm in trouble now)

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#4
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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/21/2010 7:54 AM

Then see you on Sunday - you know Ware...

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#7
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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/22/2010 5:32 AM

Near Hertford, Hertfordshire?

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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/21/2010 10:37 AM

"grate fun too" you meant.

Better join a club soon

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#6

Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/21/2010 11:36 PM

Excellent, Ms. Rose- I have done a spell years ago with Toastmasters- and it is absolutely true- the only way to learn is to get up in front of a bunch of people and do it. I am sure Toastmasters has been the foundation of many a public speaker's career...

I look forward to a refresher course...

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#8

Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/22/2010 7:23 AM

Thank you, Rose. I too, am a Toastmaster (in the US, near Washington, DC) and you are right. Over here we have thousands of clubs available. I'm sorry to hear you didn't, but glad to hear you started one where it was lacking. What a wonderful opportunity!

My home club is much as you described yours, but, unfortunately, there are "specialists" in every walk, and here in the US, we have clubs that don't accept "novices", but require a great deal of skill (read that "We think you are good enough for us") before one is allowed to even attend. Too sad for them. We enjoy tutoring the new comers, and are continuously thrilled to see them develop, and move forward with confidence in their professional and personal lives as a direct result.

It's truly a blessing to be a member, and to be allowed to nurture others through the learning, and practice (and Practice and PRACTICE!). I'd encourage any and all to find a local club, sit in, and join as soon as you are able.

And, as you pointed out, the price is RIGHT!

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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/22/2010 8:18 AM

Thanks Micahd02. GA

Helping others develop: Absolutely - I'll come on to that in due course, it is the most rewarding part, I find. I'm so proud of my two "new" members - in terms of TM awards, they've pretty much caught me up!

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#10

Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/22/2010 11:16 AM

Great advice. I was active in Toastmasters for six years early in my career.

The greatest takeaway for me was on how to give feedback (Critique) publicly. In one case, the speaker went way overtime, but the topic was her passion, but the time limit was just ignored. A very delicate situation, and one that taught me how to "say What I mean" without offending. The ability to give feedback has been an important part of my career as a manager and teacher.

Toastmaster gave me the "laboratory" to learn that aspect of communicating effectively.

Milo

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#11

Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/22/2010 8:28 PM

I don't know if they still do it, but in my high-school days Toastmasters had a junior version called Gavel Club..

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#12
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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/23/2010 2:57 AM

Like the real thing, but at a knock down price....?
Del

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#13
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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/23/2010 3:24 AM

Matter of debate.

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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/23/2010 3:50 AM

Surely that's fishing you are thinking of ?
Del

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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/23/2010 3:54 AM

Um - maybe now of "cat meets Priest"?

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Re: Communication - a Voyage of Experience

10/23/2010 5:02 AM

Not come across that. I'll look into it. Thanks

There is a Youth Programme that TMs present to young people over 8 weeks.

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