Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization, is well known for its excellent public speaking training. Less is known about the leadership skills that can be developed through Toastmasters clubs - skills from which small businesspeople can certainly benefit.
If you want to learn how to run better meetings, Toastmasters is for you. If you want to learn how to deliver constructive criticism, Toastmasters is the place to do it! If you are interested in learning firsthand how to motivate people to push their limits and do their best, Toastmasters is for you too.
How is this accomplished?
- Every Toastmasters meeting has a Chair whose job it is to organize a meeting, appoint the other people who will be in charge of various parts of the meeting, make up an agenda, and make sure everything is covered in the meeting, on time.
- Each meeting also has a Toastmaster. The person in this role recruits (from among the club's members) the evening's speakers at least a week ahead. This person also writes and gives the toast of the evening, which is a set length of two minutes.
- Meetings usually has a section for people to practice impromptu speaking. The Tabletopics Master's job is to choose the topic (and keep it secret until the Tabletopics section begins), and then keep people to their time limit, which is usually one minute.
- Evaluators praise and critique speeches. Here is a real opportunity to learn how to offer critiques in an effective, supportive way - one that motivates a person rather than alienate or discourage them.
- Club members can run for president, area governor, district governor and other higher leadership roles within the organization.
All of this may seem like a lot of work, and it is - but the opportunities for learning to be a leader are many. It is another tool that can be used to build a smooth-functioning business, and it's fun!
Here are some books on running meetings. All can be found at the Toronto Public Library.
The only real training for leadership is leadership.