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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

TOASTMASTERRING

Hello Readers!

It may look from the subject matter like I am digressing from my usual topics but please read on to see that I am not.

John Maxwell mentioned in one of his books that everything rises and falls on leadership, and that the difference between two equally talented teams is leadership. I find these statements as very hard to dispute. We all see proofs that Maxwell was telling the truth. Let me add these though, the difference between two technically skilled leaders is the ability to communicate. Yes, communication skills is so important that no matter how good one is in the technical aspects of a job or how well one knows the business, one will surely fail as a leader if one is not capable of informing, influencing, inspiring, enlightening, calling people to action and most especially, listening. All these my friends are very important communication skills that a leader must strongly posses in order to become an effective leader. I am not saying of course that these are the only important things, but a leader as far I am concerned cannot do without all these.

I have seen too many examples in meetings, training sessions and day-to-day activities how so many leaders struggle to get their message accross. A good number of them have these notion that by giving a rundown of facts, they are already communicating. They forget that communication does not stop at hearing what the speaker says and that for the whole communication process to be completed, the receiver of the message must be able to process the message, understand it and act accordingly. Here's another important piece, in order to successfully get the person to process and understand the message, the speaker must be able to first grab the person's attention and hold it until the information is fully downloaded into the receiver's awareness. In this day and age of information overload,there is so much to know that people's attention span have become shorter, and the ability to hold information became less that it has become a challenge to keep people's attention focused. It's like trying to make a soaked sponge try to absorb more.

I know, I know, it's been two paragraphs and I'm still not getting to the point. It is just so important for me to emphasize how important communication is and how so many leaders take for granted the fact that they have to make a conscious effort to develop their communication skills. I'm not talking about correct grammar here or fluently speaking the English language although those too are important. I am more concerned about the leader's ability to get the message across.

Here's my recommendation to those who recognize that there is in fact a need for them to enhance their communication skills, join a Toast Masters Club.

"Toastmasterring", helps one to develop better listening, speaking and thinking skills. The speech projects and other activities help members go through a phased and well rounded personal communication skills development. The best way to describe it I guess is, Toastmasters does not teach, it trains.

I am no "Competent" or "Advanced" Toastmaster. (as what more senior Toastmasters are called)I am currently repeating my speech projects after a number of years of hiatus. But this I can say about the many people I met in the club who are in the more advanced levels, They are very mature speakers (and I don't mean old). They think on their feet, they are sharp listeners, great evaluators and impressive communicators. They package their message and deliver it so well that those who listen are simply awed and moved.

Just to level everyone's expectation, not everyone in the club is like what I described, many of us who are still in the process of honing our skills and do not automatically display the same prowess. Many members start really raw, and as they progress, they and the people around them see marked improvement. I can go on and on about the benefits of joining a Toastmasters club but I might bore you into clicking that X mark at the upper right hand corner of your screen. Let me leave you with this though. With Toastmasters, a small investment of time, money(about two thousand pesos at the onset and about a thousand bucks every six months) and effort can go a long way in developing one's communication skills and personality. Meeting new friends and creating a network of opportunities is just a bonus.

P.S.

I know a number of companies who recognize the value "toastmasterring" can bring to their organization, that put up their own chapters. If you are an HR Manager or someone who can decide on these kind of things, I highly recommend that you look into it. E-mail me at edebreo@yahoo.com and I will hook you up with people who can help you set-up your own corporate chapter.

P.P.S.
We are starting a new chapter! It's called Butter N'Toast Chapter Toastmasters Club. We meet every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the Month in Makati. If you are interested to observe our meetings, please e-mail me and I will be more than happy to invite you in! For more details on Toastmasters, please visit www.toastmasters.org


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