Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Liberation from One Right Way

You might think that a person comes to Toastmasters meeting to learn “the right way” to present oneself in public speaking.    Even though TM meetings follow a formal structure, my growth path with Cromwell Community Toastmasters has been an exercise in thinking outside the box.
The Toastmasters experience has liberated me from thinking that I have to respond to a question or a structure in a certain way.   It has helped me to be more flexible in problem solving and solutions creation at work.   I have learned to see meetings as opportunity for collaborative interaction – even when there’s a deadline driven agenda and a firm need to demonstrate progress.   This perspective is far more empowering than viewing a high-pressure meeting as an “audit”.  Such a meeting becomes an experience where you answer the questions exactly as asked and the value of your perspective is lost to the team because you allow the conversation to be driven entirely from another person’s point of view.

Perhaps the most obvious place that the Toastmasters meetings support individuality and freedom of expression is in the Table Topics portion of the agenda.   In our club, the room is given a topic and a person is offered an opportunity to speak extemporaneously on that topic – or on anything else they want to share instead.    The result when a person exercises that option the room comes alive in a special way.  Regardless of what they choose to say there’s something infinitely more interesting about hearing what a person brings of their own accord rather than the well-trodden call-and-response of question-and-answer.

I am convinced that this is a vital key to making the jump in your career from high-performing contributor to leader; the jump from following operations procedure to full participation in strategy.   Would I eventually have come to this realization on my own?  That’s likely.   Would I have been able to apply it immediately after understanding it without the Toastmasters model?  Not as likely.   And that’s where I find the value of that balance between structure and freedom that is a Toastmasters meeting.

— respectfully submitted by Jennifer Bourne
2014-15 Secretary, Cromwell Community Toastmasters, #5908

JOIN US NEXT TUESDAY, December 5, 2014

5:30 to 7:30 pm 

And every first and third Tuesday of the Month

Cromwell Town Hall,
 41 West Street, 
Cromwell, CT 06416 (2nd floor,  follow the signs)

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