Friday, September 25, 2009

Finding the Right Toastmasters Club

Photo credit: Andres Rodriguez and Picpics - mashed up by Robin Good

It's Toastmasters Friday on Speak & Deliver. Starting this series in logical order means going to the beginning: Finding a Club.

There are most likely several clubs in your area, with varying times, locations, and cultures. Head to and pop your zip code into the club finder window.

There may only be one that matches your time and location needs, if you have rock solid criteria. If there are more than one, or you are able to flexible, you get the privilege of being picky. Visit a few, and consider the parameters below to ensure you get plugged into the right club.

4 Things to Consider When Trying Out a Toastmasters Club

1. Comfort Level

Are you comfortable with the group? Not that they all need to be your best friends, but is their attitude and demeanor consistent with your own? Caveat: A group you are uncomfortable in, but represents where you would like your comfort level to be, may be a better option than joining a club that creates an instant comfort factor.

2. Size Matters

How big is the group? Bigger clubs are considered stronger, but smaller clubs offer more opportunities to speak. Bigger clubs may feature more role models, but smaller clubs can put you on a fast track to your goal. Beyond their size in number, consider the size of their enthusiasm. Are they a happy, positive group with clear goals each week, or are they an old boys (or girls) club, set in their ways and happy to sip coffee and walk through the meeting with zombie-like zen?

3. Diversity

Diversity of membership creates diversity of feedback. A club with wide age, social, financial, and even racial demographics can help you craft a delivery style that appeals to a wider audience. A corporate club, or a less diverse club, on the other hand, may help you speak to your target audience, if they match. If you will be speaking to people at management level only, a Toastmasters group that is brimming with management types could be more helpful to you.

4. Do They Care About YOU?

Do they let you talk, even as a guest? Ask you to join? Ask you what your goals are? Set you up with a mentor? While what you'll get out of Toastmasters will correlate to what you put in, at the beginning they need to be showing you they will find a way to give you what you're looking for.

Toastmasters offers a wonderful program that has been proven over time. Each club implements that program with their own seasoning, through their own perspectives and preferences. Be flexible, even in your pickiness. Most importantly, beyond anyone else's standards of measurement, be true to yourself, and your own needs.

Now go out and find your club! When you get there, remember to do more than Speak. Speak & Deliver!

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