On a hot and muggy May evening, I stumbled into an even hotter and muggier top floor of a co-working space in Brussels. I had signed up for a Communication and Leadership Training via a MeetUp group. The event was hosted by a Toastmasters club.
In my tired and sunburned brain, I was wondering what toast had to do with communication and leadership and how do you master a toast. . That’s when I discover that there is a global organisation dedicated to empowering individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders, called Toastmasters International.
So what is this Toastmaster International? According to their website, they are a world leader in communication and leadership development bringing together more ha 357,000 members in local clubs all over the world. Their local clubs hold frequent meetings in which members can train their skills in impromptu speeches, the so-called table topic, or with prepared ones.
Just recently Toastmaster International launched a new educational programme called Pathways. In the programme, you can follow one of ten learning path which trains you up to 300 distinct competencies. Some of the different tracks are Dynamic Leadership, Motivational Strategies, Innovative Planning and Team Collaboration.
The club I joined is called Atomium Toastmasters of Brussels after the symbol of the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair and is Dutch and English speaking. The members create a cosy and compassionate environment which is extremely welcoming and supportive.
I felt welcome and secure from the first meeting on. It feels more like a small bubbly family despite the necessary formality of the exercise. Never was a speaker let down or received a harsh and unjustified evaluation. Everyone values the efforts and development of the others. The speakers are cheered, and all new members are encouraged to get in touch with a more experienced speaker to be their mentor.
I was toying with the idea of joining a public speaking training for a while by then. Many people told me that I am a good speaker, but it all was more intuitive than planned. I was interested in systematising my approach and using it as an effective tool in my practice. Maybe even training people in public speaking myself down the road. Beyond that, I developed in recent years the longing to share my story with a broader audience. As trainer and facilitator, my role is more neutral and passive, but I also wanted to put myself out there and speak about topics that matter to me.
So why I am sharing this with you here? As I mentioned in my last week’s post, I want to widen the scope of Affective Facilitation to give all my interest a home in it. Also, I believe Public Speaking is strongly connected with Facilitation as practice. We as facilitator stand in front of groups and speak all the time. To communicate effectively and efficiently is a crucial skill for us. We are not of any help to our participants when they can not understand the meaning and purpose of our input or questions.
Therefore, besides sharing the speeches that I will give at our Club meeting, I will share tips and tricks for public speaking, other fantastic speaker’s journey, and how to use public speaking in our facilitation work.
Are you fond of public speaking or do you prefer to be in the audience? What do you always wanted to know about public speaking? Leave me your answers in the comments below.
Love and appreciation,