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

Public Speaking helps your career advancement

Professional life is changing significantly and not only due to the last two years of the pandemic but also due to different needs people have in their workplaces. Life as we know it is not a one-career-per-lifetime world anymore. People change jobs on a routine basis and may even jump careers. It is not unimaginable to move from construction to a trainer or urban engineer to a pizza chef. Therefore to navigate the more and more professionally complex environment, we need new skills to develop.

In Tampere Toastmasters, we believe that public speaking helps our career growth and advancement because of five reasons:

We become better communicators.

By delivering prepared speeches regularly, we are working on a variety of speaking skills. There are projects we can focus on body language, voice variety, dealing with difficult audiences, and timing. Crafting a solid message comes with time, as in the beginning, we focus on consistency.

Table Topics provide a setting for practising impromptu speaking; preparing to talk about an unfamiliar topic for 1-2 minutes helps when encountering someone new and with nothing to say. Pick a topic and go confidently with it; we learn.

Speaking skills can help you excel in job interviews, pitch an idea or asking for a promotion.

We have a chance to take leadership roles.

In a Toastmasters club, everyone is given a chance to conduct a meeting. Being a Toastmaster of the evening allows you to build soft skills like time management, self-confidence and poise, effectively lead meetings, increased productivity. Table topics master practices active listening and members’ engagement, and every other role have something to teach us. Each club has many different opportunities to lead. You can join the board, consisting of the president, vice president of education, treasurer and a few more. On a higher level, we could also be an area, division or district director. Dream as big as you want!

We learn to give and receive feedback.

If you want to practice receiving and implementing feedback, Toastmasters is a very supportive and feedback-driven environment that will push and encourage you to do so. Every performance during a meeting is evaluated, and every one of us has a chance to learn something new. Giving feedback is not simply stating our opinion, but it should bring real value to the other person. It is not telling people what they did wrong. It mainly tells people what they did right, supporting them to learn and grow.

In an ideal world, feedback is a gift to give and a gift to receive when we incorporate feedback to accelerate our progress; we improve faster.

We are responsible for our personal development.

‘Without commitment, you’d never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you’d never grow’. It’s a choice to work on our skills that we make consciously.

We have a chance to connect with people internationally.

There are more than 300K Toastmasters globally. Visiting a club has never been easier with virtual travelling. Meeting people with different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences broaden our horizons and expand our opportunity to be more visible and employable. Public speaking can be a great way to network and meet others in your industry or who have similar interests.

It’s incredible how much you can achieve with good public speaking abilities. Why not try it?

— Written by Mina Kostova
Vice President of Public Relations

Four reasons to practice Public Speaking

Have you ever felt that gut-punching feeling when you’re asked to speak in front of people?

Maybe you felt numb, your stomach sank, your palms were sweating, and your mind was racing wild? 

Public speaking shouldn’t make you ill with nervousness. It should be an opportunity to get your point across. Here are our Tampere Toastmasters four reasons why practising public speaking is a good thing:

* Public speaking can change your mindset
Changing your mindset over time from “I can’t do this” to “I can, and I will” will surprise you. Setting small goals within the Pathways help a lot. You push the parameters trying new things. Before you know it, you’ll be confident and easy to go.

* Public speaking creates confidence
Effective communication is not reserved for the loudest voices in the room. Everyone can use communication skills to enhance their life and career. Practising public speaking will bring a sense of control and fulfilment after you deliver a speech, however big or small. You’ll stand taller, be more assured and far more positive.

* Public speaking pushes out your comfort zone
Public speaking helps to push out your comfort zone, and, you know what they say: ‘Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.’ It starts with a small square, but this square grows and expands when you tiptoe in all directions. Your confidence will grow, and you’ll feel comfortable within a giant square or a circle, wherever you want. You’ll understand more, see things differently, feel more confident and aware of yourself and the world around you.

* Inspire others with public speaking
There are no two brains alike, do you know that? There is only one of you who has your unique combination of experiences and skills. How special is that? We tend to listen and admire others and rarely dare to share our stories.
Dare to think differently! Challenge yourself! Dare to be the best possible you! Dare to inspire!


— Written by Mina Kostova
Vice President of Public Relations

Six ideas on how to use Public Speaking as a confidence booster

When it comes to confidence, ‘build’ is the keyword. ‘Build’ indicates that gaining confidence is a gradual, step-by-step, experience-by-experience process. The great news is it does not necessarily need to be a slow process! 

Here are our Six Tampere Toastmasters ideas on how to build on it.

Set goals

The word confidence comes from the Latin word “fidere”, which means to trust; therefore, confidence is trust in ourselves. One of the best ways to start building on our confidence is by keeping small promises to ourselves. Gradually we start trusting in our ability to keep these promises, and we are ready to thrive. As a member of a Toastmasters club, you can start with small goals like taking on a meeting role, for example. When you feel familiar and more attuned to the club’s meetings, you can give a speech.

Challenge yourself with impromptu speeches

Table topics is a signature activity for a Toastmasters club. Table Topics hones the skill of creating an impromptu response that is straight to the point and engaging. During Table Topics, all attendees have an opportunity to present one- to two-minute impromptu talks. This is often the most fun part of our meetings. Don’t miss the opportunity; next time, jump in.

Practice before giving a speech

You have confidence when you know you can do something. Many people just don’t practice enough in front of an audience in a friendly environment with no consequences if mistakes are made. If you want to build your confidence as a speaker, be intentional about investing time in developing your speaking skills. Practising will help you master the art of public speaking, and this is the key reason why our clubs exist – to allow speakers like you to practice, which will build your confidence. Practice results in progress, and your confidence gets built when you know you are making progress.

Be consistent 

A Toastmasters club gives you an invaluable opportunity to be consistent in your intention to improve your communication skills. The regularity of meetings, the variety of roles one can have and be active during every meeting, eleven different pathways with projects of all kinds that one might work on … you name it. It’s up to you to dedicate and invest time in your personal development.

Challenge yourself even more by attending contests 

It takes a lot of courage to be a contestant, true. However, you can start small on a club level. There are contests for a speech, for an evaluation, for an impromptu speech. Contests, by their nature, have higher stakes than regular club speeches, which means more practice. Competing on a club level strengthens our skills and boosts confidence because we perform in the same safe environment we are used of. Familiar faces, fellow club members, it’s safe not to be perfect.

Celebrate your small/big wins

There is no greater boost of our confidence than the satisfaction and fulfilment after a well-done job. Achieving our goals isn’t always easy. It takes hard work and inner strength, and it’s easy to forget to take time for ourselves. When you reach a milestone or complete a particularly hard task, relax. Celebrate success with whatever makes you happy.

— Written by Mina Kostova
Vice President of Public Relations

The word Listen in Chinese

It is a luxury to be really listened to, to be truly heard. Most people are not good listeners. Usually, when they appear to listen, they are actually waiting for their turn to speak. However, no one can be a good leader or an excellent communicator if they haven’t developed their listening skills.

In Toastmasters, we know that communication is a two-way process: as well as talking or delivering a message, it’s essential to listen to the other person’s response. And not only listen to respond but listen to comprehend what the other is saying. We practice this skill whenever we are listening to a speech because we have one minute to share our feedback or evaluate a fellow member with constructive and more in-depth evaluation. This is how we practice listening in our clubs.

We’ll introduce you to some of the common response styles:

Have you heard about conversation killer? The most critical element about this style is that we’re giving distracted and understated support. We are not present. Typical parent’s response but not only. Some of the factors that push us to reply this way are tiredness, boredom, or maybe we are engaged with something different. It’s a conversation killer because, without our attention, the other person feels rejected, unseen, unrecognised, and usually hurt. We all know what the consequences of this outcome are.

How about a conversation hijacker? It is the case when we are not attuned to the other person. We change the conversation to an exciting direction for us. Imagine someone comes with good news, and before we know it, instead of shining the light on the other person and their positive experience, we’re shining the light on ourselves. The other person is left upset, perhaps even a little surprised, initially confused with dimmed excitement and joy. There’s no space for the speaker to share their feelings or thoughts.

A joy thief, it’s this kind of response that we point out all of the downsides to the good news. This focus is pretty negative, right? And it’s based on fear, insecurity, worries etc. I mean, we are not swept up in the other’s excitement. This leaves the other person worried, and a gap of distrust starts to sever the connection that this person has with us. A typical response is “No way, this cannot happen” or “Have you considered this and that and another 100”. Imagine the frustration the speaker might get!

Constructive response, or joy multiplier. It’s this capability to multiply the others joy and transform it into shared joy. We are asking questions to learn more and to unpack the experience by multiplying it. The thing about being a joy multiplier is that both people feel happier and more connected.

This is the style that strengthens relationships. Being a joy multiplier, sharing the joy is the style that communicates trust, belonging, intimacy and leaves both people feeling closer.

Do any of these labels ring a bell? Do you recognise yourself in any of them?

#tamperetoastmasters #communication

— Written by Mina Kostova
Vice President of Public Relations

Toastmasters club can help develop Leadership Skills

Have you ever thought that leadership is only for a few? More like corporative stuff for managers and executives?

Peter Drucker postulated that “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” To elaborate a bit on the definition: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximises the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal. Put it this way, there is nothing to do with titles, position in the hierarchy or personal attitudes. The truth is that at some point or another, we all face the chance to work with other people, collaborate on projects or start something on our own.

By participating in Toastmasters, there are a number of ways we can acquire and practice our abilities to work with others and develop skills you may never have thought possible or necessary. But the best is we can gain this experience and confidence without jeopardising our career growth.

For example by taking an officer role can:

Vice President Education develops skills like strategic planning, evaluating individuals’ performance and determining strengths/weaknesses, and applying successful mentoring techniques. Work with members to establish individual short-term and long-term goals.

On the other hand, Vice President Membership is responsible for planning and organising activities to retain current members and attract new ones. Skills in marketing, networking and relationship-building, positive small group collaboration are built.

Vice President Public Relations learns how to promote the club. Creating social media presence, developing a communication plan, writing blog posts, and interacting with local communities are invaluable additions to one’s arsenal of skills.

Treasurer manages the club’s finances, including creating and maintaining a budget, basic bookkeeping, collecting club dues, and paying bills are a few of the responsibilities to keep the financial stability of a club.

These activities need to be studied and developed by leveraging our strengths, but credibility and confidence are built with time. Everyone is a leader if we consider that leadership starts with leading self, and we voluntarily participate in our clubs’ activities to create a positive experience of learning and growth.

— Written by Mina Kostova
Vice President of Public Relations