Tag Archives: Toastmasters

Club tip: how to Say No

My work and life in general becomes overly demanding and this means that I need to start saying “No” to people or situations to find balance and not get overwhelmed.

Credit: Hypnosis Self Help

Many times I need to say “No” to protect my interests without compromising the relationships in which I invested time and effort to build, so it needs to be a positive No. There are many ways to say “No” and we usually fall in one of the following traps:

  1. We ACCOMMODATE and Say “Yes” when in fact deep down inside we wanted to say “No”. We end up scarifying ourselves for others and even if we regret it, we end up doing the things we don’t want to do.
  2. We Say “No” in an AGGRESSIVE manner without caring about the relationship or consequences of our answer. This usually leads to broken or harmed relationships and might turn against us later on.
  3. We AVOID by not saying anything at all. We simply ignore what was requested hoping it will just disappear from our radar.

None of the three approaches is the best way because you either use the power & risk the relationship either care about the relationship but neglect & sacrifice yourself.

Then what’s the right way you’ll ask. The answer is simple. You need to say “No” in a way that you care about yourself and others using the “No sandwich”. The strategy is simple:

  1. Think What are you willing / can do
  2. Say No giving a reason
  3. Be emphatic

In other words when you want to say “No” think about what can you do given that what has been asked from you is not an option which will be the good news, then say why you cannot do what you’re asked to do which will be the Reason and be emphatic.

To give you a brief example:

A colleague asks you for help in putting together an Excel report with some statistics today. Using the NO Sandwich you could say

“I’m really sorry I have a lot of things on my plate today so I cannot help you with it however I can send you the links to the documentation I used to learn how to put together this report.”

Don’t let yourself overwhelmed and start using this technique today, you’ll see it’s a great way to consider yourself and others!

Ioana Augello

5 Reasons why you should not join Toastmasters

During a Toastmaster year we have an average of 80 new guests visiting our club meetings and we end up by having around 8 new members out of them.

This is quite surprising isn’t it? We, the Toastmasters members have so many reasons why we are here however when it comes to attracting new people it seems it is a real challenge!

Let’s try to understand which are the most common reasons why our visitors don’t become regular members and how we can look at these reasons from different perspective:

1. Public speaking like acting on the stage without any specific reason? This is not for me!

We perfectly understand that majority of us don’t have as a goal becoming a public speaker such as a TV shows presenter, a politician or a spokesperson for an organization. In Toastmasters however we have the flexibility to adapt the speech topic and content to the professional or personal need of a speaker. We can have technical presentations to practice for an actual presentation that will then be delivered in real-life at work, a sales-speech to test its efficiency or even a self-presentation in preparation for an important interview.

2. In my job communication skills are not that important

Unless you are working as a guardian in a museum that is never visited by anyone and you have no contact with any human being your job does require communication skills! You interact with people at any time, you need to be able to sell yourself during an interview process, then you need to know how to present your achievements to your manager and you might even interact with clients that lost their patience, are angry or frustrated and you need to be capable of handling situations by speaking. Especially in customer-centric jobs communication is everything!

3. The meeting is too long

Indeed two hours and half are long but the meeting is interactive, with variety of roles and activities and once you get involved in the meeting itself by taking a role, the time simply flies. These two hours are nourishing your skills, increasing your knowledge and it’s the right way towards progress in your better communication competency.

4. It takes too much of my free time to prepare

If you didn’t find out by now, nothing is for free in this life. Greatest achievements require hard work, commitment and motivation so if you are looking for only enjoying the life by doing nothing it might be that Toastmasters is indeed not the right place for you. For all the rest who know how to prioritize the important things in life, Toastmasters helps not only improve communication skills but also leadership, time management and organizational skills. You can become an expert in managing stressful situations by keeping yourself busy, engaged and learning by doing!

5. The roles and meeting itself is unreal – this is not how it happens in real life

In life we don’t have this chance indeed of ‘testing’ the audience, of giving a presentation where people will then provide constructive feedback and you can redo the project with the suggestions incorporated. Toastmasters offers a safe environment where even the most introvert person can feel comfortable. We  believe in providing support and feedback to build a person’s already existing skills. We are a group of friends rather than competitors and we all have a common goal: to grow! Then we apply all the lessons we learn in real life such as not using fillers when giving a presentation, have a short concise and precise message, have a good structure.

There are many other reasons someone can call out on why not to join Toastmasters however it’s worth thinking: are these reasons or rather excuses?

Ioana Florentina Pop, VP PR

An invitation that I had to finally accept

25th of June 2013… A sunny and hot summer day just perfect to leave your work and go for an ice-cream or enjoy a long walk in the park as the second day of the week just finished.

Unless,  you have an invitation that you cannot refuse again!

You cannot refuse it because you were invited over and over week after week to join something called ‘Toastmasters meeting’ and for few months you managed to find reasons why not to go such as:

    – I will change job, I’m quite stressed with the handover
    – I gave my resignation, I have no time
    – I have a new job, I’m under pressure
    – I’m still in probation period
    – The location is quite far, I cannot make it…

 

Until that day of 25th of June when ashamed of how many reasons I could give to my very dedicated French teacher that helped me polish my language skills for so long, and not being able to say it’s far away as the meeting was going to be in the very same building I was working in, I accepted to go for it!

Obviously even before attending I had my mind set:

I am totally not the kind that likes public gatherings, totally not the type that likes to play some role in front of people and I’m quite a busy person, I have no time to do something else.

Carefully I also estimated that I will be leaving early pretending that I have some other important meeting to attend having a déjà-vu of how the meeting will be, full of those soft-skills training exercises where you pretend to be the president that just won the elections and has to thank the audience or convince them to vote for you again next time. You know what? I’ve been there few times (mandatory company training!) and it was boring and useless.

I can remember just like it was yesterday how from the very first minute I arrived there the idea of Toastmasters that I had set in my mind was ruined.

I knew one single person in that room however in few minutes each of the participants came to introduce themselves in such a friendly manner that I couldn’t believe how a room of strangers can become a room of acquaintances! The meeting started easy, entertaining I would say and apart from the awkward clapping before and after each role and hand-shaking on arrival and departures on and from the stage the content of the meeting was a blast.

It’s interesting how first meeting with a speech in Toastmasters can have such an impact! I can remember Anna having her speech about blood donation and my auto-pilot conclusion that ‘she must be a very experienced and great speaker‘! Then my determination level boosting when I heard Florentin with his strange Romanian accent (like mine!!!) giving an amazing presentation!

I  was amazed, I was impressed and hours after the meeting I was still trying to absorb what happened in the two and half hours.  It took me less than a day to say ‘Yes, I can and Yes, I want!’ and two weeks after I was already a member of the club.

Looking back at the entire journey, I can only say how childish I was refusing over and over my teacher’s invitation to join a meeting and how right he was saying that he sees me good for it! Now I know to leave my opinions out when I don’t have sufficient information and yet I perfectly understand all my friends that give me reasons after reasons why they cannot join. I’ve been there, I’ve done that!

As I like to believe things happen when they need to happen and soon, I’ll be celebrating 100 meetings since I’ve joined the Club and hopefully other hundreds in the future!

What about your first meeting with Brno Business Toastmasters club? Are you ready to share it with us?

Ioana Pop

Is there life after the Competent Communication manual?

Any new member finds out quickly that in Toastmasters we use the Competent Communication manual to learn how to prepare for the 10 speeches we need to have to achieve our very first goal. It seems to be not such a long way there so once you’ve earned your Competent Communication designation, you’ll likely find that you want to continue developing your public speaking skills. One way to do this is to immediately begin working on advanced communication designations, such as Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Communicator Silver and Advanced Communicator Gold.

For each of these advanced communication designations, you must complete the five projects in each of two advanced communication manuals (there are additional criteria for the Advanced Communicator Silver and Advanced Communicator Gold designations).

The complete list of Advanced Manuals is:

226-A The Entertaining Speaker

226-B Speaking to Inform

226-C Public Relations

226-D Facilitating Discussion (formerly The Discussion Leader)

226-E Specialty Speeches

226-F Speeches by Management

226-G The Professional Speaker

226-H Technical Presentations

226-I Persuasive Speaking

226-J Communicating on Television

226-K Storytelling

226-L Interpretive Reading

226-M Interpersonal Communication

226-N Special Occasion Speeches

226-O Humorously Speaking

The challenge is that it is very difficult to decide which advanced manuals you may want to choose, when all you have to go by is a picture of the cover of the manual and the very brief description offered on the Toastmasters International website. When you see the 15 titles you cannot actually figure out what are the requirements of each project in it and decide which manuals best suit you.

As ‘Yes, there is life after the Competent Communication manual’ and quite an exciting one, we will briefly take you through each of the manuals every week to help you decide  which will be the next to choose on your Advanced Communicator track.

More details on the first manual, next week.

Ioana Florentina Pop, VP PR