After a few years in Toastmasters, what further ways are there of advancing your speaking skills? Consider joining an advanced club. Having been a member of Cornerstone Communicators Advanced Toastmasters Club for a year, I have concluded there are 3 good reasons to join such clubs.
Firstly, I was first attracted to visiting Cornerstone Communicators because of their workshops. Some are facilitated by club members and fellow Toastmasters but external experts are also brought in time to time. For example, I have attended workshops on specific, relevant topics such as rhetorical devices, “winning evaluations”, humorous speeches, stand-up comedy, presenting on the radio and being interviewed by journalists. The workshops not only provide knowledge but stimulate and motivate further thoughts.
Secondly, advanced clubs just do things differently. For example, 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. 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 also so much more fun.
Thirdly, many members are professional presenters or workshop facilitators, willing to provide exceptional advice, for within and outside of Toastmasters. They are 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 speech projects, but they also welcome guests. 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 include: Advanced Orators (Manchester), Anglian Advanced Speakers, Cornerstone Communicators, Cashel Club, Cork Ireland Advanced Pros Club, Dublin Advanced Toastmasters, Edinburgh Advanced Toastmasters and Excalibur Advanced Speakers. If you are interested in trying our Cornerstone Communicators (in Markyate) then email me for further details.