The club meetings provide a friendly, supportive environment in which to improve your public speaking skills. You're encouraged to take part but can learn at a pace that suits you.
It all starts with one book: the Competent Communicator manual. This consists of ten projects that build on one another and develop different speaking and presentation skills. These include:
Getting to the point
Use of language
For each project you prepare a speech (usually 5-7 minutes long) on a topic of your choice. You present it to the club during the meeting, and then get feedback in the form of an evaluation. The evaluation highlights the strengths of your speech, and gives you some ideas of what you can do to make it even better. You’re not just evaluated on the project in hand; you’ll always be asked if there’s anything else you’d like the evaluator to look at in particular.
A sample Toastmasters evaluation
Leadership skills are developed by fulfilling the various roles that are needed every evening to make the meeting a success. Members can also become officers of the club, taking up various positions of responsibility that are vital to keep the club growing.
However, even improving your communication skills makes you a better leader. By being an evaluator, you not only get better at public speaking, you learn how to give feedback in a supportive, constructive way. And by completing the Competent Communicator manual, you’ll learn skills to persuade and inspire your audience.
But does it work?
After speaking at just three meetings, one member gave a speech to his team at work. Three people came up afterwards and told him it was the most inspiration speech they’d heard from a manager. Through Cheltenham Speakers Club, another member overcame his stammer and went on to come third in a regional competition.
What if I move away?
As Cheltenham Speakers Club is part of Toastmasters International, a non-profit organisation designed to help people improve their communication and leadership skills, we share a similar format to other Toastmasters groups and use the same training manuals as all other Toastmasters clubs. So, if you ever move away from Cheltenham, you can join your nearest Toastmasters group and carry on wherever it was you left off.