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3 Benefits of Having a Toastmasters Club in Your Office

 Need a gym to practice public speaking and leadership?

Written by Super User 05 April 2017

By Adriana Alcala, UX Creative at PwC

Three years ago, a few coworkers and I got together to talk about the idea of creating a club in our office. We were members of clubs near our office and we saw the benefits of being a Toastmaster. We invited everybody in the office to a demo meeting to sell our idea of having our own Toastmaster club at work. We felt scared and even terrified. There’s a reason why Jerry Seinfeld's quote about 'public speaking being people's number one fear' is so popular.

We didn't know who would want to practice their speaking skills but in order to start, we knew we needed at least 15. A few weeks later, we had 28 signatures and we created our PwC Digital Toastmasters corporate club.

Since then, we’ve held more than 70 meetings including 100+ speeches and multiple educational workshops. Today, we’re sharing the top 3 benefits of having a corporate club.

 

  1. The only meeting where being perfect isn’t required. Members are expected to fail and make mistakes, that is the only way to learn. This can be very relaxing when the rest of the day is filled with client or team meetings that can't afford any mistakes. One of the challenges of our Toastmasters' meeting is to use the 'word of the day'. Because most of these words aren’t common, the meaning or sample phrase is provided. I made a goal for myself to use the word of the day at an upcoming meeting or at some point during the week, even if it feels like a stretch or I’m unsure how to properly use it. The idea is for members to learn a new word and start adding it to their vocabulary.
  2. Everybody has an opportunity to speak and lead in a safe place. One of the reasons I joined Toastmasters more than 4 years ago, is because I had to be in front of clients and coworkers constantly selling ideas, presenting designs, or providing feedback. However, there are many other reasons to join. One of our members, who joined from the beginning, said she was afraid of speaking because she hasn’t been a part of a client presentation and wasn’t able to practice public speaking in front of an audience for months. Having bi-weekly meetings to practice speaking and leadership skills creates knowledge and confidence in our members.
  3. Become friends of your coworkers. Most members create speeches about the things they love, such as their hobbies, family, culture, or what they did on the weekend. This is a great way to create relationships outside of projects and deadlines and build strong connections. Having exposure to other members and learning more about their personal and professional life has been one of the most rewarding experiences.

If you haven't been to a Toastmaster meeting, ask your office manager if there is a corporate club in your company. According to Toastmasters International, nearly one-third of all Fortune 500 companies now offer in-house Toastmasters clubs. I was surprised to learn that our company has more than 10 clubs in the USA. If your company doesn’t have a club, attend a public club in your area. In the future, you may be the founder of your own corporate club.

 

How to be a Great Communicator

Consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy.

Written by Super User 17 February 2017

If you could choose just one ability to excel at to help you succeed in your career and life, what would that be?

Over the course of my career, I might have said leadership, judgment, confidence, or any number of equally credible choices. It depended on the day I was asked.

But with the benefit of hindsight, I now realize that the capability that makes the biggest difference to career advancement is this: being a great communicator.

What It Means to Be a Great Communicator

Being a great communicator means being able to read your audience, get your point across in a way that lands with others, and influences outcomes.

It doesn’t mean you have to be a charismatic orator, or speak in the Queen’s English. It means that you are able to connect with people, engage them and inspire them to take action. And this is at the core of being a great leader.

It’s funny that communicating is something we do every day, in person, in writing, over the phone, on social media. Yet, most of us are not even thinking about all the interactions we have – we’re just doing it. And most of the time without much training.

That means we’re leaving a lot on the table and there’s significant upside benefit if we can improve.

Why It’s Important to Your Career

In fact, communication is a fundamental, linchpin capability – one that has a knock-on effect on just about everything else we do whether that’s leading a team, working on strategy, handling a difficult conversation, negotiating a contract, or explaining our services to a client.

I like to think of being a great communicator as a “Super Food” that boosts your entire system by helping you:

  • Build relationships and influence at every level – with clients, your boss, colleagues and juniors.
  • Create buy-in for the projects and initiatives you lead.
  • Negotiate effectively for what you want and need.

In short, communicating effectively is a crucial aspect of your success, whenever you’re working with or for other people. And that’s most of the time.

“It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator.” - Michael Myatt , bestselling author of Hacking Leadership

But as they say, just because you can talk doesn’t make you a good communicator.

So what does it take to be a great communicator?

3 Things You Can Do to Be a Great Communicator

In my experience, the difference between being good versus great comes down to whether or not you do the following three things: Notice, Practice, Invest.

These will help you become the very best communicator you can be, which in turn will make all the other things you do even more effective and high impact.

1. Notice

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” - George Bernard Shaw

The first thing is to notice how you’re doing on the communication front. I’ve become more conscious in the moment of how effective I’m being in my communications, whether in writing, in person, on the phone and in personal as well as professional settings. I also do a periodic “check-in” on whether I’m improving.

One thing I can tell you is that I’m still far from perfect! Sometimes I do a better job than at other times, and unfortunately, there are also times when I completely blow it. But that’s okay because I’m creating a feedback loop for myself regularly so that I can learn and improve.

The other thing about noticing is that you don’t want to make yourself paranoid or self-conscious by overanalyzing the situation. Here are some useful questions to use to help you notice in a way that’s productive:

Settings:

  • What situations are harder vs. easier for you to be a great communicator?
  • Think about who you’re with, the size of the audience, the topic, how much preparation you’ve done. For me, the toughest situation was always internal team meetings, where it felt like a giant chest-pounding exercise.

What you’re doing:

  • Are you taking up your space, whether it’s sitting at a table or standing at a cocktail reception?
  • And if you’re on the phone are you hunched over the phone?
  • Are you breathing smoothly and feeling calm or is your chest pounding and your mouth dry?
  • Are you making eye contact?
  • Do you have nervous habits like adjusting your glasses frequently or twirling your hair?

What you’re saying:

  • Are you using positive words or negative ones that come across as whining and complaining?
  • Are you using powerful language or weak “apology language”?
  • Are you using too much jargon (in which case others may not understand), or too little (in which case they may think you’re not a fellow insider)?

How you’re saying it:

  • What’s the tone of your voice?
  • Can they hear you clearly or do people strain to listen?
  • Are you talking non-stop vs. pausing and listening?
  • Are you talking too fast for your audience to absorb what you’re saying?

Your mindset and attention:

  • Are you coming at this from your perspective, or thinking about what’s in it for your audience?
  • Are you paying attention to how your message is landing with the audience?
  • Are you listening to what the other person is saying?

As the saying goes, it’s about progress, not perfection. So don’t be afraid of noticing how you’re doing and stop worrying about whether you’re falling short. It’s all about making forward progress.

2. Practice

You can’t become great at communicating without practice. That’s what gets you comfortable with communicating when the stakes are high, and helps you to make the most of unexpected situations that come up in every day life.

And while it’s clear that you need to practice the set piece presentations – think TED Talks or addressing the executive committee – it’s equally important for being effective with informal interactions.

In fact, it can take more effort and thinking to be effective at the informal conversations. It’s the equivalent of needing a grounding in music theory before you can excel at jazz. Or practicing the art of improvisation so you can perform improv smoothly on stage.

And the key to useful practice is preparation and feedback. If you don’t prepare your message, then you’re just talking. And if you aren’t open to and seeking feedback, then you’re just talking to yourself.

Preparation doesn’t have to take a long time. It’s often just about gathering your thoughts and reminding yourself of your objectives. And when you prepare, your communications are more likely to be purposeful and positive.

As you do your practicing in various settings, you’ll benefit from getting feedback from people. In fact, be fearless about it. Others see and hear you anyway, so you may as well have the benefit of learning from it. You may even be pleasantly surprised!

When it comes to getting feedback, dig deeper beyond just the overall impression of whether your part of the communication was “great”, “good” or something else. Find out which parts were most effective and why. Ask what would make you more effective next time.

By creating a feedback loop each time, you’ll bring your practice up another notch in terms of usefulness. Otherwise, you may be grooving in some bad habits.

3. Invest in Yourself

Inside every successful professional is someone who’s done the work to be a great communicator.

After all, we’re not born great communicators. We all had to learn to read, to speak, to listen, and to make ourselves understood.

You can learn techniques from a variety of sources, such as books, videos, and watching great communicators at work.

But, I’ve found that the best way to go about it is to learn from professionals. It speeds up your learning and builds your confidence in a way that’s hard to replicate on your own.

Early on in my career, I really lucked out and got one-on-one presentation skills coaching that was meant for only the top people. A managing director had to drop out five minutes before his session was due to start, and the department head pointed to me and said, “You. Go!”

Well, this coaching made a huge difference in my career. I was better at presenting pitches to clients, speaking in those dreaded team meetings, and briefing senior management on my business. It helped polish my brand and gave me a greater ability to influence others and deliver results.

But investing in yourself is not a “once and done” event. The thing about communicating is that you can always be better. And as you progress in your career, the bar just gets higher: there’s more at stake, there’s greater complexity and you need to be more nuanced.

That’s why people at the top of their fields tend to increase their investment in coaching and training as they move up. You can be sure that CEOs and heads of state are continuing to invest in this skill.

How I’m Becoming a Great Communicator

I’ve been investing as well – I’m a member of five Toastmasters clubs, 2 brick and mortar, and 3 online clubs. Toastmasters is like a gym, you get a stage time. With a gym membership, you need buy all those equipment and a room to put them. In Toastmasters, you need not rent a live audience to practice your presentations. Yo also get live evaluations, a mentor, and a community of support.

What Toastmasters® program has done for me already is:
  • Cut my prep time in half (which I love because time is the only thing we can’t make more of)
  • Made me more confident about my message and how to convey it
  • Helped me to feel more natural and authentic onstage and on video
What Will You Do?

So, to have the success you want in your career and to be the kind of leader you are capable of being,

  • Take some time to notice how you communicate,
  • Practice your craft purposefully, and
  • Invest in yourself.

Being a great communicator will pay off tremendously when it comes to your career advancement and success in all areas of life.

And if you’re coming to sit-in at our Toastmasters session, come say hello!

Social Media Rules

Keep jabbing.

Written by Super User 16 January 2015

The basic rule of social media is to be everywhere your customer expect you to be. Luckily, we are a non-profit we just maintain a Facebook page and this website.

If you lack confidence, don’t do social media.

A half-hearted job or inactivity at it is detrimental as it opens up to comparison to competition. As social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk advises, "keep jabbing." You don't know when you will be able to score a knockdown or a knockout.

What happens online remains online.

Years ago, a certain district speech champion posted pictures of burning one of his trophies. It remains online. Uber today is reeling from dashboard video of its CEO arguing with an Uber driver over declining fares that hurt his ability to make money. This video will remain online for a very long time.

Count the Stars

Speech delivered at a high school graduation ceremony.

Written by Super User 24 March 2017
 
This speech was delivered at the 2017 High School graduation ceremony in Xavier School on 24 March 2017.
 
To the members of Xavier School's Board of Trustees, led by its chairman, Mr. Johnip Cua; our School President, Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ; Ms. Aimee Apolinario, High School Principal, and her team of Administrators, Faculty, and Staff; to the proud parents and friends of our graduating students, and most of all, to Xavier School's graduating high school class of 2017:
 
First of all, congratulations to our graduates! The last time I interacted with our graduating students was when I visited the group in Guangzhou four years ago during their Grade 8 Xavier China Experience on the last year of my term. I’m so glad to be back here for your graduation. I've actually attended a total of 25 graduations in my 12 years here, and this is the very first one where I don't have to stand on my feet all evening giving out diplomas. Thank you for taking that over, Fr. Ari Dy!
 
But seriously, to the Board of Trustees and to all of you who are here, my deepest gratitude for honoring me with the Luceat Lux Award. It is an honor made more prestigious by its roster of past honorees--which includes, just to name a few, my mentor and friend, the late Fr. Ismael Zuloaga SJ, his fellow visionary and longtime Xavier School Principal, Mrs. Jenny Huang Go, and my batchmate and ever-faithful leader of Xavier's Days with the Lord, Abraham Go.
 
By honoring me tonight, you are honoring the people who stood with me and worked with me all those twelve years--the people behind the scenes who threw their support behind our quest to redesign a distinctive Xavier School brand of education: I am, of course, referring not only to my ever-supportive Board of Trustees, but also to every single administrator, teacher, staff and maintenance person, each of whom made a contribution to our enterprise. I need to share this honor with them, so I request them to rise and ask you, dear parents and graduates, to give them a big round of applause.
 
The world has certainly changed since my high school classmates and I graduated almost forty years ago right here in what used to be the old grade school gym. Actually, the world has changed so much even in just the last four years since I left Xavier! Thomas Friedman, author of the bestselling and paradigm-altering book The World is Flat, just came out with a new book last year where he claims that today's world isn't just flat; it's also fast!
 
Dear graduates, the world that Xavier School is sending you off to is much, much more complex than the world that we,your teachers and parents, first wandered into when we were wide-eyed high school graduates your age. No one then, for example, would have imagined that today we would have the biggest--and most updated encyclopedia--available in several languages and edited virtually by the whole world--without printing a single volume! Who would have thought then that the largest taxi company in the future wouldn’t operate a single cab----or that the largest global hotel chain wouldn’t own a single piece of real estate?
 
And even as we gather here, the world is changing fast--and not always for the better. I don’t know about you, but I really think something happened just these last couple of years. Has it just been only about two years ago when the world felt like a more tolerant and less prejudiced place? Recently, the standup comedian, Aziz Ansari, was the featured host of “Saturday Night LIve”--arguably President Trump's favorite TV show. During his monologue, he made the observation that people used to pretend that they were not racist because it wasn't fashionable or politically correct, but now? They’ve completely stopped pretending! To this emerging breed of vocal racists, the comedian made this one request: "Go back to pretending," he begged them. "I’m so sorry we never thanked you for your service,” he added. “We never realised how much effort you were putting into the pretending but you’ve got to go back to pretending,”
 
Given such a world, one that is changing so rapidly and not always for the better, what can we say to our graduates, our future leaders--with all the privileges of a good education and all the social capital and opportunities that go with it?
 
I have but one unsolicited piece of advice for our graduates: “Count the stars.” Count the stars--even if you know you’re going to lose count. Sure, any fifth grader today would be quick to point out that it’s impossible to count the stars. There are simply too many of them!
 
But just the same, take the time to count them anyway because it’s not so much about getting the right answer; it’s also about the process. In this case, it’s not so much about determining the actual total number of stars; it’s about the discipline and the pleasure of learning about each star you count.
 
Too often our world puts a huge premium on quick results, instant fixes, and shortcuts. There's this hashtag that students use whenever they tweet about their school assignments: #tldr, which means "too long, didn't read." There is this preference for the info-nugget, the sound bite, the big ideas. Unfortunately, the more important and more complex things in life can’t be captured in just 140 characters. We need to do some extensive reading and deep thinking to even come close to understanding them. If we limit what we read to tweets and headlines, we will most likely fall for fake news. So we need to take the time to read the fine print and make sure to read between the lines.
 
Getting the work done and achieving results are obviously important, but something needs to be said about the value of doing the hard work and learning in the process. K. Anders Ericsson, the American psychologist and scientific researcher, claims that what distinguishes experts from their peers is not their innate talent, but a lifetime of what he calls “deliberate practice”--i.e., a period of intense work and deliberate effort to improve one’s performance.
 
My assignment after Xavier was to become a student again and to finish my dissertation in London --something I had to complete to get my degree. At first my attitude was: “Let’s get this over with!” But soon I realized that the project of writing a doctoral research was not something you could simply “get over with”--at least not if you’re trying to say something worthwhile. You need to do a lot of reading and then, spend a lot of time thinking about all the ideas you’ve read, make connections among them, attempt to articulate what you think, and just keep revising and improving your text. I recall sitting in parks and cafes, writing out drafts; putting up manila papers on the walls of my room where I sketched every conceivable mind map; even doing my laps in the pool while wrestling with related questions and issues underwater. In other words, I had to be willing to invest time thinking about my dissertation, stick to the discipline of reading and writing every single day. Even on days when I felt I was getting nowhere, when I couldn’t churn out a single decent page of writing, I sat there on my desk relying only on what Jesuits on studies have called “butt power.”
 
I didn’t know it then, but all those times that I kept at it, ideas were brewing that eventually became the core of my dissertation. Something was happening even if I was counting stars and losing count: I was strengthening my capacity to think and to synthesize. That whole experience showed me that more important than simply getting the job done is building your capacity and acquiring the expertise that can only be borne out of doing the hard work. In the long run, more crucial than "getting through" is "getting thorough." That’s the only way expertise is produced.
 
Now about this business of counting stars: Just to complicate matters, as science has told us, not only are many of the stars we’re seeing been long dead, but there are also millions of still undiscovered stars in the deep space of our ever-expanding universe. There’s so much more to the universe than what meets the eye.
In the same way, there’s so much more to reality than what we can perceive or measure. As the sociologist William Bruce Cameron wrote in 1963: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
 
But the same goes for who you are, too. The world is going to insist on measuring you in terms of what you have and what you do. And you're going to be tempted to do the same and use those same measures in judging others. But remember, more important and more lasting than what you have and more than what you do is who you are. No matter what people tell you, you are going to be more than your bank account and your accomplishments--even all the perks that go with them. All these have a way of fading and passing away. What remains in the end is who you have become--based on the decisions that you have made and the actions that you have taken.
 
At the end of the day, the one thing that will define you, that defines us all--is the way you use your time and energy: the dreams you invest them in and who you spend them with. So choose a big enough dream to define your life. And choose the people you spend your days with--and make sure to spend time with God too. Remember, what will ultimately shape your life is how you live each present moment. In making the most important choices in your life, don’t just focus on the means of your livelihood; rather, seek also the meaning of your life.
 
Over twenty years ago, after college, I was working as a brand manager in a food manufacturing company, and was assigned to marketing the ready-to-drink juices–the type that came in bottles and tetrapacks. One morning I joined a team of researchers that went door to door to conduct a survey on the brands of juices found in different households right here in Little Baguio, San Juan. I watched the team interview a young girl who very shyly but graciously agreed to be interviewed.
The researchers asked her the usual questions in the vernacular. “Meron po ba kayong juice sa bahay?” they began.
 
“Ay, opo!,” the young girl eagerly answered.
 
“O anu-ano ang juice na meron kayo?”
 
“Marami po!,” came the proud reply. "May Sto. Nino, may Sacred Heart, at Nazareno."
 
The poor girl had mistaken our survey on juices to be a survey about "Diyos" or God!
 
The uncanny thing about that incident was that it happened at a time when I was beginning to think seriously about what I really wanted to do with my life. The poor girl’s confusion about “juice” and “Diyos” symbolized—rather blatantly—my own growing confusion and dilemma about my life: Did I want to spend the rest of my life selling juice or doing something else?
 
I guess we all know how I ended up answering that question. And one of the best blessings that God has given me for saying “Yes” to him was the privilege of serving you here in Xavier and making some difference in your lives.
 
Dear graduates, let your light shine like the stars. Be the best that you can be in the service of God and others. We, your teachers and parents, are rooting for you! God bless you, and congratulations to you and your parents!
 
 

English - Mandarin Glossary

Glossary of Toastmasters terms

Written by Super User 14 February 2017
Speaker  演讲人  yǎnjiǎng rén
General Evaluator  总评估员  zǒng pínggū yuán
Evaluator  评估员  pínggū yuán
Grammarian  语法官  yǔfǎ guān
Ah Counter  哼哈官  hēnghā guān
Timer  计时员  jìshí yuán
Toastmaster  会议主持人  huìyì zhǔchí rén
Table Topics speaker  即兴演讲人  jíxìng yǎnjiǎng rén
Topics Master  即兴演讲主持人  Jíxìng yǎnjiǎng zhǔchí rén
Language  语言  
Public Speaking  演讲  
Communication  交通  
Leadership 领导力  
     

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About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches communication via public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization's membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds build confidence as speakers and leaders.

Emperor Mandarin Toastmasters club provides a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.

 

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