David Brinsdon, 11 November 2017
Attending a workshop, presentation or lecture on a topic you are familiar with (or unfamiliar with) brings many benefits. Today, I attended (with a few others from Newbury Speakers) a Leadership workshop with Aletta Rochat and organised by Basingstoke Speakers. Aletta is the Region 11 director for Toastmasters International. Region 11 is huge, it spans from Scandinavia through all of Europe and into Africa right down the South Africa. The Regional Director was in the UK for a week, so this was a rare opportunity to meet, listen and learn from one of the most experienced and professional members of the Toastmasters International organisation.
The session was split into two parts:
Part 1 – Speaking as Leader
Aletta gave a talk sharing some top tips and pointers on Leadership. She covered the importance of listening, how to gain charisma, showing your ‘why’, how to deal with conflict and the importance of validating people. She was able to reference other people’s work and gave pointers for the audience to further research the ideas she was presenting.
Part 2 – How to leverage Toastmasters Membership in your career
This was an interactive session for the group but also a great demonstration of facilitation skills by Aletta herself. She lead us on a journey by asking a series of questions designed to bring out examples of how we had benefited from Toastmasters outside of the club environment and then we shared these examples with the group. The examples of how people had benefited where multiple, relatable and served as a healthy reminder as to why we attend a Toastmasters club. We had examples of people gaining promotions, winning the best presentation award at a conference, gaining confidence in interviews, mentoring and more.
The communication and leadership skills we learn in Toastmasters are multiple and most importantly transferable to real life examples. One action – that those from Newbury Speakers took from the meeting – was to include a ‘Members Moment’ on the agenda on club meeting. A moment where we give a member 1-2 minutes to share a story of how attending Newbury Speakers has benefited them and ensure that we do not lose sight of the reason ‘why’ we come to Toastmasters.
Over the years I have taken many golden nuggets of information and lessons from many workshops and more recently webinars. The opportunities to learn from others are all around us, and those lessons normally come from many hours of trial and error on behalf of others – many hours of which I do not have the time in which to make the same errors – so giving up an evening or a day on the weekend from time to time is easily justified. Only question left is – where is the next learning opportunity?