After a few years in Toastmasters International, you may look at further ways of advancing your speaking skills. Challenging yourself to contests and attending conferences or a Toastmaster Leadership Institute (TLI) all helps, but have you considered joining an advanced club?
Having been a member of Cornerstone Communicators Advanced Toastmasters Club for one year, I have concluded there are three good reasons to join such clubs.
Firstly – I was first attracted to visiting Cornerstone Communicators due to their programme of useful workshops. Some workshops are facilitated by club members and fellow Toastmasters, but external experts are brought in occasionally (and workshops are often free to members). For example, I have attended valuable workshops on quite specific but relevant topics such as: rhetorical devices, “winning evaluations”, humorous speeches, stand-up comedy, presenting on the radio, being interviewed by journalists and so on. The workshops not only provide knowledge but stimulate and motivate further thoughts.
Secondly – Cornerstone Communicators (and other advanced clubs) just do things differently. For example, rather than a standard evaluation the club usually offers an open evaluation – where each member of the audience is invited to provide a commendation and recommendation. I have found this particularly useful for improving my own speeches, and the audience seem to enjoy it too. Table Topics are very different, and more akin to the impromptu speaking seen on TV. Quite often two or more members will perform together – perhaps one narrating and the other miming, or there may be an absurd dialogue or interview situation in which the two members verbally spar. These Table Topics are indeed challenging but also so much fun than the norm.
Thirdly – As might be expected the members of advanced clubs are experienced speakers, many are professional presenters and workshop facilitators. As with most Toastmasters, they are willing to provide expert advice, valuable within and outside of Toastmasters. They are also well connected and know of conference organisers looking for speakers etc. Unlike one-off courses, advanced clubs give you on-going access to these experts.
Most advanced clubs require their members to have completed six projects, but they also welcome guests at e their meetings and workshops. I recommend visiting your local advanced club as a guest as soon as you can, rather than wait until you are qualified to join – like with Toastmasters I wish I had joined sooner. Whilst the club is focused on advanced skills, all new members are made to feel welcome and encouraged to try our new techniques.
In Districts 71 and 91 the advanced clubs are: Advanced Orators (Manchester), Anglian Advanced Speakers, Cornerstone Communicators, Cashel Club, Cork Ireland Advanced Pros Club, Edinburgh Advanced Toastmasters, Excalibur Advanced Speakers and PowerTalk (Dublin). If you are interested in trying Cornerstone Communicators (in Markyate) then email me for further details.
Go on, treat yourself and join one of the advanced clubs!