Why Toastmasters?

The following printed handout was given by Richard Thripp to the members of Port Orange Toastmasters on Wed., 5/13/2015 at the conclusion of his speech titled “Why Toastmasters?” For Richard, this speech fulfilled the requirements of Project #5: “Your Body Speaks” from the Toastmasters Competent Communication manual.

My speech will help the audience crystallize their understanding of the value of Toastmasters. The audience will be encouraged to think of Toastmasters as a supportive group that provides structure to help them build the discipline necessary to achieve their public-speaking goals.

Why Toastmasters?

Public speaking is a risk. Toastmasters helps you take the risk.

  • Captive audience

When you walk through that door, you’re walking into a room with a captive audience. An audience that you don’t have to worry about heckling or judging you. We are here to help you get over your fear of speaking! We are here to help you become a great speaker and leader.

  • Structure and effective textbooks

We don’t want you to bite your tongue because you’re afraid of not knowing what to say. We don’t want you to stay silent because you’re afraid of hurtful words and ridicule. That’s why we have well-structured meetings, roles, and speeches as outlined in the Competent Communication and Competent Leadership manuals. We don’t judge the content of your speeches—we only provide constructive feedback on how to effectively deliver your message.

  • Excellent educational investment

Toastmasters is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Including $30 in one-time fees for your registration and workbooks, your first year in Port Orange Toastmasters costs only $138. $138 for about 45 opportunities to speak, get immediate feedback, and learn from others. This education is better and more comprehensive than many undergraduate speech classes. You can speak on what you like, at your own pace, but with the structure, support system, and legitimacy that Toastmasters provides.

  • Employers take notice

A new member of Port Orange Toastmasters once remarked that her boss was worried she was looking for a better job! Toastmasters provides letters of reference for completing your CC or CL manual, which can add weight to your résumé or curriculum vitae. Everything you do here tells your employer that you are serious about effective speaking, leadership, communication, and salesmanship.

  • Immediate feedback!

Educational research shows that receiving feedback quickly is critical to your performance and improvement. Nearly every part of this meeting is peer-evaluated. We don’t wait until next week to tell you how to make it better. Within minutes you will hear Michelle’s evaluation of my speech. Everyone gets to hear both my speech and my evaluation—something that you will almost never find in a college classroom. Observing feedback given to others helps us improve our speeches. We become more neutral and objective, because we have less emotional investment in the speeches of others.

  • Comprehensive evaluation

Even the evaluators themselves are evaluated by a General Evaluator! This feedback helps us improve not just our speaking skills, but our leadership, interpersonal, and planning skills as well. We want you to evaluate to lead. The Ah-Counter / Grammarian role is critical. How can you point out my mistakes without scaring me away? Like the State Department, Toastmasters is diplomacy in action. We use the sandwich method. We are directed to point out strengths and good use of grammar. This does not mean we ignore problems. If you come up here and rock side to side, play with your hair, or clasp your hands at your chest, you’re going to hear about it.

  • Improve your speaking!

You will get better at speaking in Toastmasters. We have seen the tremendous improvement made by myself, Agnes, and others. When I first got up here, I was nervous, quiet, and scared. Toastmasters is the answer. I get up here now, and I don’t even worry about you guys. I don’t worry about freezing up. I don’t worry about not having enough to say. I know that if I lose my train of thought, I don’t have to fill the silence with “errs” and “umms.” I speak louder and slower. Toastmasters taught me this. Yes, I could have learned this somewhere else. But it could never have been this quick or easy.

  • Step up!

What are you getting out of Toastmasters? We cannot help if you don’t try! Port Orange Toastmasters desires to have 3 speakers every week. We have 22 paid members right now. We should have speakers booked for the next 5 weeks, and members should be visiting other clubs just to get more speeches in quicker! All of you! You have paid your dues. You are sacrificing your time and energy to be here tonight. However, showing up is not enough. You need to be giving speeches. Giving speeches is the #1 way to improve in Toastmasters. I love to procrastinate. I wrote this speech last night. I hate practicing at home because my Dad ridicules me. But don’t follow my bad example. Start writing ideas down for your next speech today. Keep a notebook or computer file with ideas. Speak in front of a mirror. Solicit friends to practice your speeches on. I did this with my last 2 speeches. Why Toastmasters? Because of speaking. Because of Table Topics. These should be your bread and butter in Port Orange Toastmasters. Don’t just show up. Do more. Ask not what you can do for this club, but what this club can do for you? This is your lectern. This is your time to shine. Don’t let it go to waste.

Download the PDF of this speech here (300 KB).

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By Richard Thripp