My organisation puts together a Toastmasters demo session today and I went to find out what it is actually about. I have heard about it many years ago but have not really been to one.
It is good stuff. In short, it is a well-structured and low-risk session allowing participants to practice public speaking and more importantly to receive feedback from the rest. And of course, if it is conducted in your foreign language, you can practice such a language as well. I particularly like its structured approach which can avoid the session to become too ineffective e.g. it will not be unduly long since all the speeches are timed even for the moderator’s one!! Just that I am a bit overwhelmed with all the super high-sounding role titles… president, governor, godfather….
For the very least, I believe the participants can overcome fear in public speaking as they did more. But whether they will become more effective in public speaking will depend on the quality of feedback in each session. Since the evaluators are also under the pressure to ‘speak publicly’ when they provide feedback, their feedback may not be so clear and direct in case of inexperienced speakers. At the same time, Asian politeness could get in the way for cordial feedback. An experienced facilitator who can cultivate open and honest atmosphere, and demonstrate good speaking skills is essential. At least at the start.
In short, I do think it is a good initiative. I am thinking to join too!!
I have been wondering why it is called Toastmasters. I think you do. And here is the answer from its website:
“….No, we don’t make toasters!…”
“…During the early 1900s the word â€œtoastmasterâ€ referred to a person who proposed the toasts and introduced the speakers at a banquet. Smedley named his group â€œThe Toastmasters Clubâ€ because he thought it suggested a pleasant, social atmosphere appealing to young men….”