7 Reasons Why Toastmasters Is Not For Everyone

why toastmasters is not for you

I am a Toastmasters member. In fact I have been one since 2005. And I’ve always encouraged anyone who had never attended a meeting before, to do so. At least once in their lifetime.

In the years that I had been involved actively, I had the pleasure of rising through the program in various capacities. As a speaker, evaluator, emcee, executive committee member, a club charter president, an area and division director and finally as a district public relations officer. So I am fortunate to have been immersive in my Toastmasters experience.

One of the major marketing points, the Toastmasters program tries to highlight subtly, is that it provides a safe environment for anyone to learn public speaking. It leverages on the key point of being a mutually supportive platform for members to be encouraged and develop their communication skills.

But is Toastmasters truly for everyone? 

Can any average Joes or sensible Sallys, really benefit from being in the Toastmasters program?

Perhaps not. And these are my 7 excusable reasons for believing so.

  • The program is not for those who are masters at procrastinating.

This is an actual fact. Being a Toastmasters member means that you will have to be prepared when it comes to delivering your speeches. Guests and members give their time to organize and attend a meeting to listen to you. However, if you are a serial procrastinator, believing that you can put off preparations for the speech at the eleventh hour…and even perhaps bailing out on the day itself, then you are doing a non favor for everyone. Procrastinators tend to be failures not just for the Toastmasters program. They generally fail in life too.

  •  The program is not for those who cannot receive feedback.

A major part of the program’s success lies in the component called evaluations. This is a key segment that differentiates it from a lot of other communication programs. An evaluation segment provides the speaker with a designated person to evaluate his speech and provide both written and oral feedback. Speaker will then be able to assess his strength and possible areas of improvement. If you are someone who is not naturally inclined to believe the opinions of others, or even consider their suggestions for improvements, then this program is definitely not for you.

  • The program is not for those who lack initiative.

Are you someone who needs to be hand held every time you need to go to the washroom? Do you crave to always be told on what to do, how to wake up or even perhaps, what food to eat? Then this program is definitely not for you. Toastmasters is a self paced development program. You learn at a pace which you are comfortable with. (not to be misled as procrastinating though). It is important therefore that since this experience has to be self directed, most of the benefits can only be reaped, if you take the initiative to be proactive. This is not a military styled program.

  • The program is not for self professed introverts’ lifetime members.

The Toastmasters program gathers people from all walks of life to attend a monthly meeting. You will be expected to walk into a room full of strangers, introduce yourself at least and perhaps speak 2 or 3 sentences. If luck has it that you are caught in a sea of people munching their food away,during a refreshment break, you will have to either be invisible or attempt at that thing called speak. Toastmasters members are not wall starers. If you secretly believe that you are an introvert for life, Toastmasters is not for you.

  • The program is not for pessimistic and gloomy folks.

Most Toastmasters clubs operate on the premise of being a happy place for people who want to learn. It functions on the creed of being mutually supportive. In most club settings, you will find club members always wanting to shake your hands, pat your backs, smile at you, offer words of encouragement, food whenever available and even prize ribbons if you do well in a speech. If you hate the thought of experiencing all that I’ve mentioned above, the Toastmasters program is not for you. You need a SOS hotline.

  • The program is not for people who want to network for capital business gains.

Try selling a Multi Level Marketing opportunity at a Toastmasters meet. Or try being over enthusiastic when asked about what you do for employment. Or try asking people to try the sachets of green based tea with 1001 health benefits that people can buy, only if they become your downline. Try doing all this and see if you have any sense of self worth to salvage at the end of the meeting. My guess is, they will perhaps share a BNI chapter meeting date with you, instead.

  • The program is not for accomplished speakers.

If you can speak competently, hold a crowd mesmerized for two hours, charming, eloquent, gets paid for emceeing and holds a Masters in Communication & Public Speaking, this program is not for you. In fact, you should actually be starting a similar program like this, and provide an alternative for the masses. If you feel that being a Toastmasters will provide you with a non paying audience every time you wanna speak, or just as an ego booster, please do yourself a favor. Don’t embarrass yourself.

So that’s it folks.

7 possible reasons as to why the Toastmasters may not suit you. Do not be taken in by the seductive nature of the program being conducive for everyone. It’s not. So before you are suckered into paying over $200 for an annual membership with any club, consider the points above.

I might have just saved you tonnes of money, years of your life…and more importantly, the struggles of being a better speaker in the future.

You are welcome.

 

How I Got More Influential By Understanding These 2 Principles

understanding the 2 pillars of influence

Most people I know, want the shortcuts to everything. If you are like most people, I am sure that you had scoured bookstores looking for quick fix it guides on how to be more persuasive. More influential. More powerful.

You might had also paid thousand of dollars to workshops trainers and speakers, teaching you how to  use the latest NLP technique, right copy writing techniques and how to perhaps play the “game” a bit better.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with all of the efforts above. In fact, it is great that you had attempted to source out all the possible knowledge and resources you can get when it comes to learning how to be more influential.

However, technique and methods alone will not work.

You need to understand the basic fundamentals as to why people will be persuaded or influenced.

Allow me to share.

I believe that there are essentially 2 basic pillars that need to be in place before an influential dynamic can happen. Is this a prerequisite? In my books, yes! So let’s get to the first pillar.

People must know that you can execute

Batman comes along and he says that he can clean up the streets of Gotham City. Yet, he comes along all scrawny, with a baseball bat and a skateboard. Do you honestly think that the Gothamites will even bat an eyelid? The fact is, his appearance indicated that he is not able to pull off anything grand. Thus, do you see the whole reason why Batman has to beef himself up, puts on some high tech gadgetry on and fly around menacingly. The whole theatrics, let people know that Batman can execute on his promise of cleaning up the streets. In this case even the super villains are persuaded and influenced by the idea that Batman can indeed inflict some heavy damages.

The same goes for you. Are people being made aware that you have the knowledge, skills, experience and ability to execute whatever you are trying to sell? Or are you just lip service? The premise of influence has a starting point. And the starting point will  be from an angle of awareness. People need to know either visually, verbally or mentally somehow, that you can indeed execute the promises you will be making. Once you have set that starting point, then the persuasion and influential processes can happen.

People must trust you

Trust is a treasured commodity these days. The over emphasis on how conviction and belief can be manipulated via advanced copy writing or NLP techniques discredit the raw nature of innate trust. It is sad that most people these days, think that they can go via the subconscious back doors of your mind, to flick on your trust switch somehow.

In the realm of real influence and persuasion however, trust is more instinctive. Primal and raw. That feeling of assurance in your guts. You can just sense it.

This second pillar of influence is important to be understood. Cause trust once earned or broken, can make or break and influence dynamics you had set. Aren’t you more inclined to be more influenced by your parents than your friends? Cause you trust them more, right? The reverse happens when you do not trust people anymore. The influence they have over you dissipates. It is just a natural reaction.

People are more easily persuaded and influenced by people they genuinely trust.

Thus you have to set yourself apart from all the other persuaders/influencers out there. Do not attempt at being gimmicky or take a backdoor when it comes to building trust.

Summary

A genuine influencer works at putting the above 2 pillars in place as his initial foundation. The first pillar establishes your capability, while the second pillar cements your credibility. Everyone loves being around influential players or personalities. Take your time in setting these 2 pillars firmly. You can build your pantheons of power after that.

Why You Should Always Fight For What You Want

As a father of two, I had always paid particular attention as to how I will want my children to engage in social dynamics. I’ve observed their antics and communication styles when they are at the playground, at home or out hanging with their school mates.

I grew up being told by my caretakers (parents, grandparents, aunties &uncles), that the number one virtue to always uphold, is the willingness to give in. What it meant back then was to always play the role of a passive possum when it comes to toys or candies. If there was a toy in a home, and there are two or more kids vying for it, I should not be in the mix. What it meant was that, I am usually the one, sitting tightly to my caretakers, as I watched the other kids tore each other into pieces. On that odd occasions I would have sulked at not being able to play that particular toy, I would have been comforted with the empty promises of “I’ll buy you one when we get home.”

As the years went on, I realized that the constant conditioning of giving in, resulted in me avoiding conflicts whenever possible. It meant that I was always willing to just throw in the towel and silently exclaim to myself that, “It’s okay. I’ll be fine.” Because of this subconscious willingness to surrender at the slightest sign of a potential fight, I lost relationship opportunities, job promotions, incentives and the likes. Only because I had been ingrained with the belief that, passing on what I wanted, was fine.

The truth is however, it is not fine.

I realize the severity of this wayward upbringing, when I unconsciously decided to inculcate the same beliefs onto my children. Unknowingly, I had always pulled them aside and chided them when they wanted to lay claim to a playing spot, a toy or a sweet. I pulled them aside and told them to give the toy they were holding to their cousins, because it was supposedly the “proper thing to do”.

Obviously it was not. These stupid acts of mine, had affected the fighting spirit in my children. I saw how their confidence diminished whenever I raised my voice, barking at them, to give in. I observed how they just slouched in resignation when they realized that they had to forego their desires and wants, only because it was “not nice” to fight over things.

So these days, this is what I tell my kids.

  1. If you want it, ask for it
  2. If it means much to you, hold on to it.
  3. If someone wants to snatch it away from you, fight for it.

I think the above 3 commandments are adequate to ensure that my kids grow up with an empowering sense of self belief.

We need to understand that it is not selfish to put ourselves as a priority most of the times. That we too deserve the finer things that Life has to offer. That wanting something is part of human nature and that fighting and working for it, is insanely normal. Avoiding potential conflicts by throwing in our towels is a cowardly way of living our lives. We can and should fight for what we feel is deserving. That is the proper way.

So the next time your kid runs to you, sobbing, saying how someone snatched his/her toy away, do not whisper saying,”It’s okay, we’ll get another one.”

Pat your kid on the back, turn him around and tell him/her firmly, “You go and get your toy back now, in whatever manner possible.”