Archive for the ‘Toastmasters’ Category

Is it Off with Your Head, or Here’s the Boot?

Monday, June 1st, 2009


In this economy everyone is vulnerable. Companies have to cut back and who gets cut first? Those they can do without. Are you invaluable, or removable?

What is your job? Are you a sales rep, in customer service, a manager, or an executive ? Those of us, and that’s everybody, who has to survive this struggling economy will have to make some changes. Companies cannot afford to keep anyone on the payroll who slows it down. It is the job of everyone to pitch in and make the company they work for a success or go find other work. If that is your strategy–finding another job–lot’s of\'re fired Pictures, Images and Photos

What if there was a self-improvement program that costs around fifty bucks a year, meets at convenient times, and is guaranteed to improve your confidence, your organizational ability, and make you more persuasive? You might think I’m not telling the truth. But I am. Toastmasters can do all of this and more. Later on in this blog I’ll give you information on how to contact them.

Toastmasters, for those who don’t know, is a club dedicated to providing education and a safe weekly forum for members to practice public speaking skills. You may have noticed that I used the word safe, why? Studies and surveys disagree with what constitutes man’s greatest fears, but all agree that speaking in front of a group ranks very high. Most would rather face a venomous snake than give a speech before a large audience.

We are taught in our Toastmasters clubs to be careful in our evaluations. The preferred method of evaluating a speech is what they call the sandwich. A suggestion for improvement is sandwiched between two compliments. It could go something like this, “You established excellent eye contact with the audience. Your voice, however was a little flat. Try to include more vocal variety. I noticed that your hand gestures perfectly punctuated your points. You are very good with your hands.” Did you see how that worked? First there was a compliment, excellent eye contact, followed by a suggestion for improvement more vocal variety, and then another compliment very good with hands. This method helps the club member to improve without beating them over the head with a gavel. It is safe.

Why do I even bring up public speaking in a blog about printing? It is because we are facing historical changes in the business of printing. I believe that those who can most clearly communicate with their customers, their employees, the community, and the industry will be the ones who rise to the top when all this shuffling is over.

I’ve written about Toastmasters in previous blogs:

  1.  Real Leaders are Hard to Find
  2. What Have You Got to Lose–Your Fear?

I’ll probably write about the organization more. If you need additional information you can check the Toastmasters International website, by clicking on this link or going to my sidebar and finding it under the heading Blogroll. Either way I encourage you to check it out. By-the-way, Toastmasters isn’t just a United States club, it truly is world wide. Once you are on the website you can enter your location to find out if there is a club near you. You’d be surprised, unless you are in a very remote location, there will probably be a club by you.

Why all the folderal about Toastmasters? There are many educational and training programs out there that require thousands of dollars and a big time commitment. Toastmasters, at least in my club, which meets for breakfast, comes to $1.65 per week, plus the cost of your breakfast. To my knowledge, a better buy dosen’t exist. You see, you not only learn to speak better, but you become a more confident person. I’ve seen new members come into our meetings so frightened that they shake. Their first speech is called the Ice-Breaker and is their opportunity to introduce themselves to the group. After that there are nine speeches they must prepare and give before they achieve the designation of CC (Competent Communicator). Here is where it gets interesting for me. Around the middle of the manual, say speeches four to six, something happens. It’s like the chicken breaking out of the shell. It is a magical moment to see someone who a few weeks before was inaudible, inarticulate, and scared, now stand tall, speak clearly and find their confidence.

Again the point of this being you need to make yourself a better employee and leader if you are to survive the changes in the printing business and the economy. In tough times companies, if they can, keep their best employees and jettison the rest. Make yourself fire proof.

When I became a broker I dreamed I could serve customers best by hand-carrying their jobs to a printer who was the best fit, instead of attempting to bend the job to fit the printer where I was employed.

What Have You Got To Lose–Your Fear?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

I apologize for the blogging gap. I was traveling to the southern end of the state to meet with the officers of Toastmasters clubs for their bi-annual officers training. I’m a Division Governor in the Toastmasters organization, but before you get too impressed, it is a totally volunteer position and costs me more than I’m reimbursed for.

Why do it then? Why take time away from my printing career to something that produces negative cash flow? I joined Toastmasters almost three years ago. My purpose was to learn public speaking and presentation skills to help me expand my capabilities. You see, I thought, and I still do, that companies who buy printing would like to have access to the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years. If I could share with their buyers what I know, I could cut the learning curve from 40 years down to maybe one afternoon. Of course that is an impossibility, but I could do what I’ve always done on a larger scale. Teach people about the ins and outs of publishing and print production.

My concern was that I might get in front of an audience and be awkward, boring, or even worse, too embarrassed to speak. When I get embarrassed, and this is difficult for me to admit, my face turns bright red. I’m not talking hot pink. I’m talking four-alarm firetruck red. I swear satellites could pick up the glow. For anyone having similar fears I can heartily recommend Toastmasters,

Toastmasters has been around for some eighty years and has developed programs to teach public speaking and leadership that really, really work. And believe it or not, it is very inexpensive to join. I pay $20.00 every six months, plus club dues of $6.00. That’s it. You start with two manuals, one containing 10 lessons on public speaking and the other is a leadership manual. I have seen literal transformations in people usually midway through the first manual. Five or Six speeches, concentrating on the learning steps, and voila a frightened mouse becomes confident, enthusiastic, and interesting. It is a WOW moment.

I love it. I get a rush from helping people improve their lives. One of our club members, Jeremy Strebel says, “Toastmasters is personal development on steroids.” He is right.

So why be a Division Governor? Why not just be a club member? Like I said Toastmasters learned over the last eighty years that you can’t really be a good speaker if you aren’t a good leader. Good leaders motivate. Good leaders have dreams and convey their visions to others. The question then is can you be a good leader without being a good public speaker? I don’t think so. If you can’t move people to act on the strength of your words, you aren’t a leader. Sure you might have a leadership title, but you aren’t a real leader of men.  So, I climbed the leadership ladder from club Treasurer, to VP of Education, to President. My club came alive and the progress was not unnoticed at the District level, so they tapped me to become a Division Governor. In my experience, leaders accept roles in spite of their deep seated fears that they aren’t good enough. No one is good enough, wise enough, or prepared enough for leadership. You just take it on, do the best that you can, and pray that you’ve been of some value to others. That’s what I do, and it seems to be working.

The Toastmasters website is in this blog and I’ll add it to my blog roll. I’ll also add the website of my club, Precision Speakers. Check them both out and see if Toastmasters can help you gain confidence and personal power. And help you brush up your interviewing skills, and make better presentations. What have you got you got to lose? Your fear?

The Easy Way To Reach Bill Ruesch
He's available to help you with any of your printing, or publishing needs. Please contact him if you need a book, marketing materials, or anything else printed. His thirty-five years of experience, and thousands of happy customers is your guarantee of satisfaction.

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