Toastmasters’ learning approach

Toastmasters’ learning approach

When was the last time you allowed yourself not to be good to start something new?

Sometimes, as adults, we tend to avoid new learning because there is less and less willingness to risk failure. Also, the old-fashioned, limiting belief “I’m too old to learn ….” are good reasons to prevent us from learning new skills or knowledge.

Knowing about neuroplasticity, though, which is the ability of the brain to modify its connections and re-wire itself and continually change, there are no doubts we can learn at any stage of our lives. 

As adults, we do not simply receive knowledge created by others but should examine and contextualize it in our own reality. Adult learning is a continuous process of exploration, reflection, integration, and adjustments. We interpret ideas, skills, and knowledge through the medium of our life experiences and our own perceptions and biases. Being self-directed is the way we learn, create, visualize, rethink, and re-engineer our learning. It means the process is totally voluntary, and it’s up to us to identify the best strategies and resources to learn at our own pace and extent.

Based on extensive research and membership surveys, Toastmasters’ learning approach has been developed meticulously. Once a member joins a club, they can take a self-assessment, identifying a tailored learning path that meets their specific goals.

Learning paths correspond to the program’s five disciplines:

  • Public Speaking + Management
  • Public Speaking + Strategic Leadership
  • Public Speaking + Interpersonal Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication + Strategic Leadership
  • Interpersonal Communication + Management

In total, there will be more than 50 learning projects—an educational journey that gives members more control of the skills they can develop and enables them to master particular competencies that are transferrable.

Working on these projects within a safe and familiar environment brings the consistency to develop a skill and, combined with continuous feedback and mentoring, accelerates learning and improvement.

The only thing for you to do is to decide whether you want to learn and grow.

                                                                                                                      Written by Mina Kostova

Want to write a compelling pitch? Try this 6-step formula

Want to write a compelling pitch? Try this 6-step formula

Want to write a compelling pitch? Try this 6-step formula

Every day, people are overloaded with information. Because they are being overloaded, they only listen to people or brands that communicate simply and clearly.

You may have heard that our brain still functions in a Treat/Reward response despite millions of years of evolution. Every person’s brain is programmed to keep them alive. It means people are constantly scanning their environment for information that will help them survive and thrive. They are looking for opportunities to save money, gain status, associate with a community, and more. The essential idea is that everybody is trying to advance their life in a positive direction.

On the other hand, the brain burns a lot of calories. Humans are designed to ignore information because it takes calories to process the information they don’t need to survive and thrive. People will tune out if the information they are reading can’t easily be associated with their survival.

Here are our golden nuggets on how to construct a pitch succinctly and efficiently:

Get to the point fast.

It’s a known fact that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Whether it’s the length of books, blogs or broadcasts, everything is shrinking. Don’t waste time with preambles. Give them an overview of your compelling proposition quickly and succinctly, and you’re more likely to capture and hold your listener’s attention at the crucial start of your pitch.

Establish the need.

Your listeners or customers are only interested in you because they are experiencing a problem. When we identify that problem and talk about it clearly, they are drawn to us. Try to give them a definite, concise statement of the problem, with an example or two illustrating the need to express your understanding of it. Then follow up with your solution to address the need.

Give them a plan.

The purpose of a simple plan is to help the listener know how easy it is to work with us. When we break down the price of working with us into simple steps, our listeners are less intimidated and more likely to take the first step forward.

Tell them how it works.

Obviously, our listeners can’t solve problems on their own; otherwise, they’d never have gotten into trouble in the first place. The truth is, they need help. By expressing empathy and demonstrating authority, we prove our competence to help them solve their problem. 

Highlight the positive results.

People want to be led to a place where their problems are resolved and they can enjoy life. Your pitch must cast a vision for what your customer’s life can look like.

Call to action.

If we don’t call on our customers to engage, they will never make a purchase. Therefore we need to make our calls to action clear and repeat them in the same language over and over.

— Written by Mina Kostova
Vice President of Public Relations 21/22

Winners Table Topics

Area B2 and B4 Humorous and Table topic contests 2021

Today was our area B2&B4 Humorous and Table topics contests. What a day! We met in person! Invaluable experience.
Tampere Toastmasters was represented by Jose Maria Perez-Macias who took the third place!💥✨💥 Great job, Jose!

On division level (Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania) on 27th of November Finland will be represent by Topi Könkö and Murto Laura (B2) and Lucas Sahlgren (B4) for Humorous speech Contest.
Topi Könkö, Jose Maria Perez-Macias (B2), Lucas Sahlgren and @Niklas Saris (B4) for Table topics Contest.

Great speeches! Congratulations to you all!

The event was well-organised by our area directors Tuomas Mennola and Petter Junni and facilitated by Oscar Santolalla. 
We thoroughly enjoyed it. ✨
#contest #publicspeaking #community #courage #leadership

Club Speech Contest October 2021

How can people become better communicators in their daily life? 

Our Table topics contestants agreed on practice, crafting a message, listening actively (especially to your wife), and practising again. We are happy to have Jose representing our Tampere Toastmasters club at the Area contest on the 30th of October.

We also time-travelled to Egypt with Leena, and the early 1940s with Laura and Jose transmitted us to a neuroscience journey. 
You bet we had a good time! And guests from Spain, UK and ….. Taiwan – the beauty of virtual travelling.

#tamperetoastmasters #publicapeaking #communication #leadership#community #networking

Written by —Mina Kostova

Club Contest October 2021

Tampere Toastmasters goes International

Do you dare to take a shot?

Adriana V. during her Speech. April 2021.

Some weeks ago, two of our Tampere Toastmasters members went international! represented by Adriana Vasilache and Anna Männikko.

In Toastmasters, we do not only organize meetings but also local (Tampere) area (within Finland) and division B level (Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), district competitions (previous plus Poland).

… and … To Infinity and beyond!

Well, within the Globe, Earth. – and yes, this line is from Toy Story.

You see… 

There are two rounds of competitions: One during Fall and the second one during Spring. 

Fall competitions include Humorous Speech and Table Topic Contests (Improvised Speech), and Spring competitions include International Speech and Evaluation Contests (more info). 

So if you are a member! Start thinking about the next contest! It is an excellent opportunity to grow and meet fellow toastmasters in our district 108 (link).

It is a big deal that someone from our club competes in the division competition. 

It is so because contestants are practising their roles for a while. They experience a qualitative communication leap between competition and competition! Also, the audience and fellow competitors only get more challenging! So yes! It is a big thing.

Adriana had his Speech titled…. Have a shot! She spent quite a big part trying to answer Who am I? and not an insignificant number of shots! 

In a short sentence, she questioned us on …What are the things which bring you joy? Asked us to write them down, and take a pick each day, and get closer to ourselves.

…What are the things which bring you joy? Asked us to write them down, and take a pick each day, and get closer to ourselves.

Adriana Vasilache, 2021

I am sure there were not real shots! But I definitely wondered the first time she made the Speech. 

She won the Third prize! – on the very competitive competition.

Anna Männikkö evaluated a given speech. She has been preparing for a while in our meetings! But to get there, she already participated in the Local Tampere competition, Area competition, and finally, in the District 108 competition! 

Also, Mina Kostova gave her a prep session!

It went great! 

She did have a shot! 

And she performed to the level of the competition!

Anna Männikkö during her evaluation in the Division B Contest.

Competitions are great because they expose you and test your current progress as a Toastmaster in a less comfy environment while measuring your performance with others. The thing is that you are only competing with yourself, and that is the whole point.

Competitions expose you and test your current progress as a Toastmaster in a less comfy environment

Are we done!! No, you also push your progress a little bit further in a short amount of time, and you get to know great contestants too! Especially when the competitions happen face to face.

What are you waiting for? Visit our club, and be our next contestant representing Tampere Toastmasters.

Written By Jose Maria Perez-Macias (Medium, Personal Website, LinkedIn)

The audience listened and gave me constructive feedback

Anna Männikkö acts as our Secretary of the club. She keeps the agenda during our board meetings and ensures we don’t lose sight of what matters.

Originally from Poland, Anna moved to Tampere, Finland in 2010 to live with her husband. The city proved to be the perfect setting for one of her hobbies, forest walking.

9 years later, she signed up to become a member of our club after hearing about Toastmasters from her work colleagues. Her first impression was that “Tampere Toastmasters club is a friendly place, great for practising public speaking. The atmosphere is welcoming and warm.”

During a regular club meeting, Anna enjoys constructed speeches the most. She still remembers her icebreaker speech and how nervous she felt about introducing herself to a new group of people. However, excitement took the place of nervousness when “the audience listened and gave me constructive feedback.”

Anna loves meeting people and hopes to see many new faces at the next club meetings. Her message to you is: “Come and visit our Toastmasters club in Tampere. It can be a positive experience for you also.”

— Written by Andruta Illie

Can joining a Toastmasters club help you overcome social anxiety?

Can joining a Toastmasters club help you overcome social anxiety? The answer is yes. 

Ada Dumitrescu, one of our most active members, tells her story of overcoming social anxiety and finding the confidence to share her ideas in front of other people. 

This is Ada’s inspiring story: 

“My story of joining Tampere Toastmasters starts with Tampere Toastmasters Youth. Adriana Vasilache brought this course to my high school. Throughout this course, my colleagues and I learned to give speeches, organize Table Topics and other Toastmaster duties. It was delightful and insightful. After graduation, I became a member of Tampere Toastmasters club as a way to address my social anxiety. I was sure that I would learn many skills that would help me in the future.

So far, my experience with the club has been fascinating and engaging as well as imaginative. When I started, I was very anxious to give speeches in front of other people, but with the support of fellow members, I found the courage to do it. Now it’s one of my favourite things to do as a Toastmaster.
It gives me adrenaline and keeps me focused.

Walking to a stage used to be something I was terrified of and would avoid at any cost, but now it is something I long for during meetings. I feel liberated when the speech is over and excited to receive feedback on how I did. Then I relax for the rest of the meeting, knowing that I contributed and brought value to members and guests.

The accomplishment I am most proud of from my Toastmaster experience is getting to the District level in the evaluation competition. I was surprised that I managed to get so far and enjoy every second of it.

I will cherish forever what I learned at Tampere Toastmasters. Not only did I learn how to give speeches, give and receive constructive feedback, improvise, but also to believe in myself. To go in front of people and share my opinions and passions with confidence. It has really helped me manage my social anxiety. Today I can approach people with more assertiveness and keep a conversation flowing.

I want to welcome anyone interested in learning useful skills to join Tampere Toastmasters. People here are so kind, open and supportive that I am sure you will fit right in. Our meetings are super amazing, fun and educative too! A total jackpot!”

📷: Ada shaking hands with Annisa Rantanen after giving a speech. 
Photo by Adriana Vasilache 

— Written by Andruta Illie


Toastmasters is an opportunity for learning and developing

Adriana Vasilache is a District 108 Club Growth Director, past President of our club and currently serving as Sergeant at Arms. She is a driving force in our club thanks to her visionary leadership and unmatched commitment. 

In her own words, “Toastmasters is an opportunity for learning and developing, for building self-esteem, for growing. Behind these words and skills, there is a community. A community of people who want to learn and to have fun. A community of people whose energy gives you wings.”

This is her personal journey with Tampere Toastmasters

“I joined Tampere Toastmasters in April 2014 mainly for practising speaking on other than technical topics, and also for conquering my shyness and being able to talk about myself.

My role is currently threefold: I have the sergeant at arms role to ensure about the practicalities of the meeting. I have the past president role where I offer guidance when needed to the current club officers. And I am also the club growth director for district 108 to which our club belongs. All in all, what I like the most is meeting new people who want to develop themselves, and from whom I can learn new, useful things.

I remember the second time I gave my introductory speech, the icebreaker. It was part of a new pathway and a moment to reflect on how much I grew as a person while being with the Toastmasters club. It felt very personal, and I received amazing feedback from the audience.

With the support of Toastmasters, I developed my communication skills (including written communication), listening skills and evaluation skills. Besides, and this is not something that I had in mind when I joined, I also learned and practised leadership skills. Recently I started a project on mentoring and networking, and I have learned a lot about how to interact with users, form and lead a team. By doing this, I learned about myself what kind of leader I am and how I tend to interact with people.

I love Table Topics as with every meeting, you get to hear a new perspective. Some of the topics are a profound invitation to reflection while others are eye-opening, fun and relaxing.

Toastmasters is an opportunity for learning and developing, for building self-esteem, for growing. Behind these words and skills, there is a community. A community of people who want to learn and to have fun. A community of people whose energy gives you wings.”

— Written by Andruta Illie

📷: Andruta Ilie

Toastmasters is for everyone, regardless of their background and education

Toastmasters is for everyone, regardless of their background and education

Annisa Rantanen

Today we introduce you to our club’s president, Annisa Rantanen and her inspiring story. 

I joined Toastmasters in 2016, and I found my local club in Tampere, thanks to one of my Indonesian friends. She was coming to visit Finland the same year, and as we discussed her visit, she mentioned the word “Toastmaster”. It was funny because the first thoughts that came to my mind were: “What is this Toastmasters about? Is it a cooking class or forum for people mastering the art of toast bread?” It turned out it had nothing to do with cooking, but everything to do with public speaking and leadership. 

I was intrigued, so I went to a club meeting even before my friend arrived in Finland. There I was greeted warmly and listened to inspirational speeches, impromptu speeches, and evaluations. I was impressed by how the meeting was held, and I liked that people gave each other short written notes of encouragement and feedback. 

So many people spoke good English, and most of them seemed highly educated. I was not sure my place was there because I’m a housewife and have no higher education. I remember sharing my background with a member and asking if I could still join. The answer was: “Toastmasters is for everyone, regardless of their background and education.” 

With a strange mix of doubt and newfound confidence, I dared myself to join the club. The story I told about myself during the icebreaker was of my struggles and what it meant to be a housewife. In the “housewife community, there’s a lot of shame going around these stories and women are judged because they choose to put their families and children first. One member of that community harshly said to me that “you won’t make a difference no matter how hard you study”.
To my surprise, my fellow Toastmasters found my story inspiring, celebrated it and admired my courage to speak up. It made me feel safe and comfortable. I felt seen for who I was despite my situation and gained hope and confidence for the future. 

People are positive and motivated, and I often hear during the meetings: “You can do it. You have come very far, and you will do just fine.” 

One of my greatest memories with Tampere Toastmasters is joining a speech competition. I am fascinated about finding that perfect moment when I am not nervous anymore. The flow is there, and everything else seems to fall in place. I learned that giving a speech is not about me, but the value and the message I can offer to the audience. It’s not about how good I look on stage, but whether my message can impact other people’s lives. I learned about this by attending a speech competition in Lithuania. From that day onward, I was able to relax more and shift the focus placed on myself to the audience. 

Another important skill I learned throughout my membership with Tampere Toastmasters is how to give and accept constructive feedback. Taking feedback was always hard for me, especially the negative one. But after joining Tampere Toastmasters, this has changed. I know that the purpose of feedback is to help me improve my communication and leadership skills. 

Nowadays I’m acting as the President of Tampere Toastmasters. What I love about this role is being able to support other fellow officers while practising people and leadership skills. 

I love all parts of our meetings, but my top two would have to be Table Topics and Giving a Speech. I learn a lot from other members’ speeches. They inspire, motivate me and even make me wiser. No matter their form (inspirational, humorous, informative), speeches give me value, knowledge, and good practices for real life. And don’t even ask about Table Topics, it’s a hell of a lot of fun! 

Join Tampere Toastmasters, and you will see for yourself what I’m talking about. It’s not just a public speaking community. It’s a great source of good energy. See you at the next meeting!

📷: Annisa and her little one from her personal album 

— Written by Andruta Illie


Public speaking needs to be learned and practised by everyone

Jose Maria Perez-Macias Martin is serving our club as the President for the year 2020-2021. Originally from Spain, he moved to Tampere in 2012 to work at Tampere University

Six years later, Jose Maria visited Tampere Toastmasters for the first time. In his own words, he was “hooked”. He decided to join our club in 2019 to meet active people in an international context.

Ever since, Jose’s commitment to grow as a public speaker and leader has taken our club to new heights. Read his inspiring journey to find out how: 

“I joined Tampere Toastmasters last year. I visited the club for the first time in November 2018; my friend Patricia, who lives in London, told me about it. I was hooked. The main driver was to meet active people. Afterwards, I discovered that the Tampere Toastmasters community values the same things I do – integrity, excellence, respect, and service to others.

I cannot speak highly enough about my experience. I felt supported from the beginning. Slowly, I was encouraged to give speeches and later, to participate in speech contests. My humorous speech, “The Art of Being Single” won the hearts of Tampere club members, made it to the 3rd round in the Turku contest, which led me to compete in Estonia for the area contest. I learned so much during those events; especially from giving the same speech over and over again. When you know a speech by heart, you can start focusing on connecting with the audience. It feels empowering to be able to make people laugh and get instant feedback. I must say it is quite addictive.

Public speaking needs to be learned and practised by everyone

In the past, I was not able to look people in the eye when speaking to a crowd. I learned to do it with confidence during Toastmasters meetings. I learned how to write a speech and construct it. The mind is continually learning new speech structures to communicate ideas that matter. You cannot imagine how useful this skill is in professional life, for instance, when you are asked to share an opinion during a work meeting. I’ve learned it all by doing. I still am.

The unexpected lesson was about leadership. Developing communication and leadership skills are two of the main goals at the core of every Toastmasters club. You learn the qualities of a good leader, and you get the chance to practice them. While some leaders are more natural than others, leadership is something that can be learned. We learn through observing and listening to others, storytelling, and regular practices. Every meeting is a lesson of leadership.

Becoming the President of the Tampere Toastmasters club was a wonderful surprise. I feel honoured that members put their trust in me to lead them into achieving their goals. A fun fact that I remembered after the election is that I used to be the president of my class during school. It was awakening to see myself carrying the same role at different stages in my life. I belonged to a supportive team then, and I belong to a supportive team now.

My favourite part of our club meetings continues to be Table Topics. For those who don’t know, Table Topics are impromptu speeches/ answers to questions formulated by the Table Topic Master around a meeting’s theme. It is both a creative practice and an opportunity for club members and guests to connect, share stories, and shine.

Learning how to communicate efficiently and lead yourself (and others) will impact your life and relationships in a multitude of ways. By doing so, your self-confidence naturally increases, and you will grow as a person. Furthermore, Toastmasters is for you if you believe in mutual support and positive learning environments. You will make new friends and you will be supported in your projects. You can learn how to deliver a presentation, start a podcast, and even how to compete on international stages. In time, you can make fair use of your knowledge to support new members in their journeys while being open to learning from them. Public speaking needs to be learned and practised by everyone. And Tampere Toastmasters is the perfect place for that.

I have two big projects this year: to learn to lead and to speak in public. In life, we are not always given the possibility to practice them. Come and join my club and me onto this path.”

— Written by Andruta Illie

#TampereToastmasters #TMmemberstory