Many of our members have made the switch from Toastmasters to Speak for Success – and for good reason. But first, let’s get on the same page. What is Toastmasters anyways?
What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a nearly 100 year old non-profit, headquartered in the United States. It is made up of over 16,000 independently operated, volunteer- led clubs worldwide that gives its members the opportunity to practice delivering speeches. In order for clubs to be officially recognized as a Toastmaster club, they need to follow a set of club requirements.
How does it work?
Each club is run by a group of volunteers and usually hosts meetings on a weekly basis either in the morning or in the evening, typically lasting 1.5-2 hours. Prior to each meeting, members are assigned a role (Zoom Master, Timer, Grammarian, Evaluator, Chairperson etc.). Each role requires preparation and offers about 2-7 minutes of total speaking time.
In addition to these meeting roles, members are also elected to the Executive Team, who are responsible for running the higher level club operations (e.g. new member onboarding, scheduling, managing facebook/website, collecting club fees etc.). Each club member is expected to (at some point) take on an executive level role.
What are the pros and cons?
The pros of being a Toastmasters member
- ✅It’s relatively inexpensive. It’s relatively inexpensive. The membership fee is $120-$250USD/year, although the pricing does vary by club. In addition to the base-membership fee, members can expect to pay an extra $45 for every additional module or ‘Pathway.’ With 11 pathways (10 at $45 each..first Pathway is free) that can add up to an additional $450USD. That said, most people only complete 1-3 pathways per year.
- ✅There are a lot of club options. Toastmasters was founded in 1924, and since then has grown to +16,000 volunteer-run clubs. So, there is no shortage of clubs and you can probably find one in most major cities.
- ✅It can offer a great community experience. If you’re able to find the right club (more on that later) it can be a wonderful community-building experience that will provide you with lasting friendships as well as personal and professional connections.
- ✅You can compete. Toastmasters offers annual speech competitions that are open to all of its members. Any member can compete and if successful – can work their way up to the international level. If you’re competitive, it’s a great way to challenge yourself and put your public speaking speech skills to the ultimate test!
The cons of being a Toastmasters member
- ❌Limited opportunity to actually practice. With 15-25 people per club and only 8 -10 roles per meeting, you don’t always get to speak. And when you do, roles typically have a maximum speaking time of 2-7 minutes. For a 1.5-2 hour meeting, you can expect to do a lot of listening!
- ❌The quality of training is inconsistent. The quality of training is inconsistent. Its 16,000+ clubs are volunteer-led, making it difficult to find a club that is organized and consistently provides a high-quality learning experience. The way around this is what is known as ‘club shopping’ where you go from club to club as a guest until you find the one that is right for you. While this might work for some people, for the busy professional it can be a big investment of time.
- ❌ Members are expected to complete obligatory administrative tasks. Since it’s volunteer-run there are administrative tasks that go along with being a member. These tasks depend on the role you’re assigned. For example, you could be assigned to be the ‘Sergeant at Arms’ role where your job is to set up the meeting equipment (Zoom, or PPT projector) and put together the agenda.
- ❌ Focuses primarily on formal speeches. From presentations to wedding speeches, the Toastmaster experience revolves heavily around delivering formal speeches for both professional and personal circumstances. They offer limited guidance and practice opportunities when it comes to day-to-day workplace communication such as setting boundaries, saying ‘no’, how to manage Q&A, delivering constructive feedback to peers etc.
Why Speak for Success might be a better fit
Toastmasters can be a great option for those who can afford to spend the time ‘club shopping’, who prefer to build their formal speech writing and delivery skills and don’t mind taking on administrative tasks to keep their club chugging along.
But for time-strapped, busy professionals who want to:
✅Spend most of their time actually practicing (vs. watching other people speak)
✅Learn and practice communication skills that go beyond formal speeches
✅Train with and get feedback from a professional facilitator
✅Avoid having to take on obligatory administrative tasks
✅Trust that they will have a consistent, high-quality training experience
- ✅Train alongside a growing community of like-minded, ambitious, women who work at companies like Microsoft.
…instead of having to do things like:
- Type out meeting agendas
- Chase people to confirm their meeting attendance
- Prepare for monotonous roles (like ‘grammarian’, ‘timer’ or ‘table topics master’)
- Take notes
- Join the club’s Executive Team and be obligated to run the facebook page, try and find new members, keep track of who has paid and who hasn’t (…did we mention having to chase people?)
…Speak for Success is a better fit.
Ultimately, those who join Speak for Success are there because they actually get to do the thing that will help them build their confidence, improve their communication skills and overcome their speaking anxiety…✨practice✨!
How does Speak for Success work?
Speak for Success is an annual membership program that gives our members a fun, safe and supportive space to learn and practice technical communications skills with the guidance and support of a professional facilitator.
Our program is designed around the three principles: Learn, Practice, Apply – a proven method for accelerated skill development. Once registered, members can start to build their speaking confidence in three easy steps:
Step1: Learn: Review the practical, on-demand lessons and resources in the curriculum to learn new concepts, strategies, and techniques.
Step 2: Practice: Attend our professionally facilitated Practice Sessions (2-3/month) to put learned skills into practice in a fun, low-stakes environment. No preparation required. Just show up and expect to practice speaking for the majority of the session!
Step 3: Apply: Apply the skills in the workplace, then report back on how it went and discuss any challenges at the next Practice Session.
After a few cycles, our members will start to experience:
- 📈 An increased level of speaking confidence
- 📈 The ability to communicate more effectively with colleagues and peers
- 📈 A greater willingness to speak up and take on leadership opportunities that require speaking
The result? A more confident, skilled version of you who is willing, and able to say ‘yes’ to those high visibility projects and important leadership opportunities that require public speaking and strong communication skills.