Toastmasters Helps You Conquer Public Speaking
Toastmasters is a great program for overcoming your fear of public speaking. The organization consists of thousands of individually run member clubs worldwide, who operate independently but follow the program set by Toastmasters. Meetings are run in a positive, mutually supportive environment without a teacher or single person leading - TM members help each other with speeches, evaluations, and other aspects of public speaking.
For most people, Toastmasters is a great way to get their feet wet and learn the basics of giving good presentations. Many members will complete a handful of speeches, consider themselves satisfied, and then stop participating. There are plenty of people who take things further, however - dedicated members who give many presentations, serve in officer’s roles, and take part in speech contests. Once you have completed the basics of public speaking with your Competent Communicator Manual, Toastmasters offers a wide array of Advanced Manuals to further your skills.
Advanced Manuals focus on more specific or specialized aspects of presentations. For example, there are Toastmasters manuals for informative speaking (leading off of Project 7 in the CC Manual), as well as public relations, storytelling, technical presentations, and more. This article details some of the advanced manuals available, how to get prepared and finish your first speaking manual, and some tips for tackling the more complex speech projects that will open to you.
Finish Your CC Manual First
Your Competent Communicator manual contains all of the basics of public speaking - everything from body language to vocal variety. Some of the topics you learn here will be expanded upon in advanced manuals. For example, there’s the aforementioned Speak to Inform Manual, as well as some projects related to impromptu speaking. During the beginning stages of your Toastmasters career you will probably be tempted to be ambitious with certain projects. But the best way to approach it is to keep it simple and focused, and worry only about learning the skills presented to you. You need a solid foundation before you expand your skillset.
Choosing the Right Advanced Manual For You
After you’ve finished the CC Manual you are eligible to try the Advanced Manuals. There are around 15 of them, but you don’t need to complete every one to finish your Communication Track. To become certified as Advanced Speaker Gold (the highest communication level you can achieve with Toastmasters) you only need to do 40 speeches total. So that would be your CC Manual + 6 Advanced Manuals. Each of the advanced manuals only comes with 5 projects, and many members tackle them two at a time.
As for tips for the Toastmasters Advanced Manuals - the best way to approach them is to strike a balance between what interests you, and what aspects of public speaking you need to improve. Advanced projects tend to be much more complex and challenging than you realize at first. There were a few - such as Speaking Under Fire (talking about a controversial topic) that I was stuck on for a while, because I couldn’t find a good topic for it. So stick with things that you already like or have something of a talent for. After you build on your public speaking foundation even further, try more challenging manuals and projects. The next manuals I plan on tackling are ones that involve humorous speaking and storytelling, because I know those are weak points in my own presentations. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable tackling them before, but with my past Toastmasters experience behind me I feel a bit more at ease with the challenge.
Toastmasters is one of the best ways to learn communication and leadership skills around. The best part about the program is that it’s completely flexible. You can take in as much or as little as you want, and you can focus on exactly the kind of skills you want and need to improve. The Toastmasters Advanced Manuals will help you become exactly the kind of public speaker you want to be.