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 luck.
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:
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.