Gaining confidence in yourself can have a positive effect in every area of your life.
Toastmasters International, which has nearly 20 clubs in the Fraser Valley, can take credit for creating its fair share of confident people, through its programs teaching public speaking, communication and leadership skills, says Michael Bown, a District Director in B.C. for the organization.
“We support people with a number of things, but communications and leadership are the bread and butter, all resulting in greater confidence,” he says.
Nervous? Don’t worry, you’re supported
If you’re feeling uneasy about being in a space where speaking to others is a central element, you’ll be glad to learn guests are not required to speak at their first meeting. “We want people to sit back, listen, observe and enjoy the meeting,” Bown says. “They can speak when they’re ready as it’s a self-paced program. The clubs provide a supportive and positive learning experience, and everyone is trying to improve each other.”
Modern education tools available online
If you haven’t investigated Toastmasters in a while or are just starting to get curious, its Pathways educational program may be new to you. Its 11 project-based categories range from dynamic leadership and effective coaching to innovative planning and visionary communication. Using an online assessment tool that helps determine a Path, you pick the area you’d like to improve on and follow the steps. “Pathways uses modern methods to cater to people’s specific needs and learning styles,” Bown says. “If someone wants to grow in public speaking, there’s a focus on that, or communication, management skills and more.”
Plenty of experience to draw from
Not only has ToastmastersInternational been around since 1924, the organization today has nearly 300 clubs in British Columbia alone. Within them you’ll find a mix of in-house corporate programs and community clubs, and a lot of wisdom and expertise from longtime members who have helped others achieve their public speaking, communication and leadership goals.
Get your message across in a big way
One of the exciting things happening right now within Toastmasters, Bown says, is the International Speech Contest. Individual clubs are in the process of holding in-house competitions, and winners advance through various local, District and International levels, ultimately competing in the World Championship of Public Speaking in Paris this August! Not everyone is expected to compete, but Bown says the competitions offer a good opportunity for members and their guests to hear some inspirational speaking.
Find a club near you
Interested in checking Toastmasters out? You can use this handy online map to look up contact information for a club near you in Abbotsford. You can find other valuable information at toastmasters.org and learn more on Facebook.