Toastmasters – A Place To Enhance Your Presentation And Communication Skills

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Giving a speech or a presentation generally creates anxiety, as most people probably reason that failure inescapably leads to public embarrassment. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this fear and become a confident public speaker. Today Youth Time talks to Lenka Dvorakova, vice-president of Bohemian Toastmasters, an international club where you can learn to improve your communication skills. Get ready to find out how lose your fear of public speaking and to learn new skills that will help you to be a more successful communicator!

 

Hi Lenka, what is (Bohemian) Toastmasters all about?

Toastmasters is the place where leaders are born. Such is the official Toastmasters slogan. At Bohemian Toastmasters, while the leader inside you is being born, you also get to meet people who come every two weeks to practice public speaking, people, who are in the beginning a friendly public, and soon become your public friends.

 

 

What kind of communication skills can you advance at Toastmasters?

The thing people see first is the chance to practice public speaking – every member is expected to prepare and deliver speeches on a regular basis. But there’s much more! At Toastmasters, you also practice providing feedback, chairing meetings, organizing events, leading teams, or engaging in small talk. While Toastmasters is like a sandbox, a safe environment where you can learn and practice, virtually everything you learn can be used outside of Toastmasters – to advance your career, or to improve your relationships.

How do you actually evaluate your members’ communication skills, and what methods do you use to help them improve?

Our members get a manual that guides them through various aspects of public speaking and leadership. This way, you can learn step-by-step, focusing on one aspect at a time – i.e. body language, vocal pitch, or time management and mentoring. When you complete a project from the manual, you receive feedback from a more experienced member.

Do you have to speak publicly or give presentations when you join Toastmasters? Or can you also learn ‘passively’?

As a member, you are expected to complete public speaking and leadership projects from Toastmasters manuals according to your level of skill. You get a mentor who can help you with whatever aspect you’re struggling with. We do push members slightly to get out of their comfort zones – because that’s where learning happens. But then again, Toastmasters is a really safe and supportive environment, and for anyone who’s afraid of public speaking, this is the place to start.

In which countries are Toastmaster clubs located, and is training mostly offered in English?

Toastmasters today is a truly international organization, with over 330,000 members in more than 15,400 clubs in 135 countries (and counting). There are many English-speaking clubs all over the world, but there are also many clubs in local languages. For example, there are now English, Czech, and German clubs in the Czech Republic.

How frequent do you come together, and how does a prospective member sign up for your events? 

Bohemian Toastmasters meet every other Monday throughout the year. Our meetings are open to the public, and anyone can just drop by at any of our meetings, no need to register, no cost involved. Check our website, for the nearest date and come to Národní 10, EUROVIA building, meeting room 401. We love having guests! 

What kind of people typically attend your events, and what is the level of most speakers?

Our club is a very diverse one – we have students as well as senior executives in our club, and novice as well as experienced speakers. That way, we can best learn from each other. 

Can you please offer just a few tips for some quick results in improving your communication skills?

If you want to improve your communication skills, you simply have to start practicing. It’s like swimming: you can read about it for years and years, but unless you get yourself wet, you won’t learn. And of course, the best way to learn your first strokes in public speaking is to become a member of Toastmasters.

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