Monday, November 14, 2016

7 Leadership Traits Toastmasters Develops in You

When I joined Toastmasters in Feb 2012, my first reaction was 'Oh lord, where was I so far?' I liked this place so much that I just lost myself in it, since then I never tried to find myself. Toastmasters has been there in the world for 92 years. This world class organization has got presence in 142 countries and lot of people still wonder on what we do here. I noted few key leadership traits which Toastmasters develops in people. I believe the list can be useful to many who are in the organization but not able to lose themselves in the process and more importantly many others who never heard about Toastmasters or heard but could not convince on 'why should they join Toastmasters'. Here are '7 Leadership Traits Toastmasters Develops in You'. 

1)      Courage – Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen’ said Winston Churchill. In Toastmasters we do both in almost all the meetings week after week. In a year’s time this may become a personality trait to you and soon you can be seen in almost all walks of life raising your hand on many voluntary activities and taking initiatives to transform the society for betterment.

2)      Communication – Communication is the sugar and salt of the all the dishes in life and yet people don’t really get it right. The art of excellent communication can convert non-leaders into leaders and good leaders into great. It is indeed fuel for excellence. Toastmasters can take your communication skills from A to X (well, Y & Z always remains as Work In Progress) without much strain. Toastmasters can also help you in developing your own unique style to do the same. At Toastmasters you learn to believe in yourself and be you while talking or even listening.  

3)      Confidence – If you can speak to any crowd of people with confidence, if you can sell membership to unknown people, clubs to never heard organizations and if you can change lives by speaking your own stories in just 5 to 7 minutes. You can approach anything with confidence. Seeing your certificates, trophies, plaques and receiving so many compliments from people of all ages and professions can just multiply your confidence in yourself. What dose of vigor it adds to the life! Kudos!    

4)      Giving Feedback – how many times you hear people saying ‘I told you /him/her but you/he/she did not listen’. Well, delivering feedback as well as making the next person listen is your job if you are providing feedback. Ken Blanchard said, 'Feedback is breakfast of champions' but you must get it right. Giving feedback is an art and you learn this art by practicing in a positive and mutually supportive environment at Toastmasters.

5)      Time Management – Toastmasters Leaders at Club, Area, Division, District and beyond also go to jobs, own businesses, have families, enjoy life and yet can do so much for themselves and fellow members in Toastmasters. Undoubtedly, you become more productive and better time manager.     

6)      Networking – Greet guests with a smile, do a firm handshake, introduce yourself with enthusiasm, give all your ears to the fellow members when they speak about themselves and above all BE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN OTHERS. You see people doing this week after week and do it yourself as well. On top of this you have a world of 16000 clubs across the world and 3.5 lacs people in these clubs across the globe who will welcome you with open arms. Many more have already gone through the system and hence the alumni base is really huge across the world.     

7)      Achieving Results – By taking up a leadership role at Club and giving it honest efforts for six months you will learn a great deal on how you set goals, encourage people to contribute, track progress and finally achieve results. In case you take up a role at Area and expose yourself to the kind of synergy different organizational units have and the magical way the entire eco-system helps individuals stay inspired and focused is amazing. You practically learn the skill of ‘achieving results’. In words of Past International President of Toastmasters International Mohd Murad, DTM – ‘Toastmasters teaches a critical leadership skill of achieving results in most unique way!’

What are you waiting for!! If you have not tried Toastmasters, give it a try for six months at least. And if you have already been a Toastmaster for some time; it’s time to add some more zing to your voluntary work in the club and the District.

Happy Toastmastering! Happy leading!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Trust makes you free to choose life and fearless to live the same!

I was 10 years of age. One of my classmates came to my dad and said, ‘Uncle, your son has started smoking. I saw him smoking many times.’
My dad said, ‘Thank you for the wonderful news. I am happy as I will have company in my home for the smoke now and he will never ask me to quit smoking. Please tell me if he has borrowed some money from you to buy cigarettes and I will return the same to you. And yes, in case you have already developed cancer tumors because of second hand smoking as you stay with my son, I will sponsor your treatment.’ 
My classmate was shocked to hear the response from my dad. To be honest, even I was stunned to hear this conversation when my dad revealed this few months later.
My obvious question was, ‘what made you say like this and don’t believe even an iota in his words?’

To this my dad responded, ‘I trust you and believe that if you know anything is wrong; you will not do it. Smoking for sure is a bad habit and you know this.’

Response from my dad made me cry that day and explains all that why my parents have given me highest degree of freedom to choose my subjects & schools of studies, career, a life partner and lifestyle.

My dad wanted to see me in a government job yet respected my wish to be in a multi-national company.
When your own people have trust in you, you are free to choose life and fearless to live the same.
Now, the question is not who trusts you and why someone doesn’t trust you. Instead the question is what are you doing to win the trust of people on whom you may not even have any formal authority? 

P.S. Smoke or not to smoke is a personal choice/habit. The above post is just an incident from my life and nothing against the people who love to smoke cigarettes (or do it anyway). People who do are free to make a choice (either-way). 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Top Three Marketing Tips for Toastmasters Clubs

1) Wear Toastmasters Pin: In my opinion this is the most effective marketing tool. The Toastmasters pins are so amazing in look & design that anyone and everyone who sees those will get impressed and if the next person has even a bit of courage to ask questions, will ask one or two. Now it’s up to you, how do you present that 1 minute pitch about this wonderful organization which has been transforming lives since 1924 by helping people become confident speakers and wonderful leaders across the world. By wearing my pin I have converted members from an airport, a gym, a gift shop, a marriage party and from my work place of course. These pins not only make you look different but give you opportunities to exercise your convincing skills (when people ask you 'what is it for?') and pay forward the benefit of Toastmasters which was extended to you by someone. You can buy pins from or contact your District Admin Manager in case they have any in District Store for you. 

2) Display your certificates & trophies on your desk at office: Forget about marketing. These will make your workspace more vibrant, will give you consistent motivation and will make you feel like a winner always. I am not a District Champion yet, countless people stop for moments when they pass-by my seat to see just a few of my club’s trophies and certificates decorated at my desk. Yes, it does bring members to your club and if the client is visiting your office, it may bring a club too.   

3) Share your pictures on Facebook: Share pictures of you participating in Toastmasters events, receiving awards/certificates, clicks of your communication & leadership awards and most importantly you enjoying and having fun in meetings. What about uploading your recorded Project 10 from Competent Communication manual or your contest speech / evaluation on youtube? Who knows, you can inspire people for a keystone change in their lives. To me, speeches by Toastmasters inspire positive change in lives of people. 
Go out and make a difference in the world by inspiring more people to join Toastmasters. You will certainly feel on top of the world, when someone would come back and tell you ‘you changed my life by referring me to Toastmasters!’