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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Corporate Toastmasters for Competency Building

If you are an HR Practitioner and haven’t heard of Toastmasters, you are missing a lot of opportunities for utilizing a good and cost effective tool for improving communication and leadership in your company.

This is not the first time that I am talking about Toastmasters. I am very passionate about it. In fact , I am a raving fan of the concept and the organization. Please read the other articles about Toastmasters here if you want to know more about Toastmasters and the benefit it offers after reading this blog. This post will focus on how to make sure that your corporate club will succeed, because to be honest, not all corporate clubs succeed. I saw some of them failed miserably in harnessing the power of Toastmasters which is regretable considering the potential of Toastmasters to make a difference.

What Won’t Work?

Corporate Clubs that fail to contribute to employees’ professional growth are those that are not supported by Management. If the head of HR is not interested in Toastmasters or the Top Executives do not buy into it, it will be an uphill battle to get support and much less participation from employees.

Not Considering Toastmasterring as a human resource development intervention for developing specific communication and leadership competency will get people confused about it's use.

What Works

100% buy-in by top executives and Head of HR. They need to see this as a viable intervention for human resource development. They should champion it to the greatest extent possible by offering incentives to encourage people to join and take an active role in the club’s affairs.

Toastmasterring should be hinged with the company’s competency development programs. There are a number of competencies that can be developed by participating in Toastmasters club meetings or taking part in managing the club. I’ve seen people develop excellent leadership and management skills through their Toastmasters experience. If you wish to know more about these competencies, please get in touch with me.

Targeting people who should join Toastmasters and requiring them to join is a good idea. While Toastmasters membership should be open to all employees, the company should require those who need it the most to join. This is how many successful corporate clubs fully harnessed the potential of Toastmasters to contribute to employee skills development. I believe Managers and People in Sales should be the top draws but anybody who wants to communicate better or are preparing to be in leadership roles in the future should get a head start by joining the club early.

Communication plays a vital role in encouraging people to join. Employees should see the benefits Toastmasters offer and encourage them to grab this opportunity.

Keeping the club meetings fun and exciting is one key to its vitality. That I believe is my club ButterNToast’s secret. We make sure our club meetings are light, friendly and fun. People enjoy going to our meetings because of the cordial and lightheartedness the club members exude. We learn while having fun.

How to Go About It?

If I made you curious enough and want to know more, I suggest that you investigate this Toastmasters thing by visiting a club near you. Ours meet every 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. Contact me if you wish to see us in action and I’ll be more than happy to reserve you a slot in our meetings. Email me at . If you like what you see and want one for your company here are the next steps

Write Management about your desire to form a club in your company. I have a template letter, just email me and I will send you a copy. Have a local Toastmasters executive (an area or division governor) meet with your stake holders to discuss some details about forming a corporate club so they can present the concept properly and the how-tos.

Hold a demo meeting to have the employees experience Toastmasters first hand. Prior to this, HR should sell the event profusely. When I set-up SPI Toastmasters Club some years ago, this is what I did. Sell to senior managers first. Get their buy-in so they can encourage (push) their target people to join. Better if the Senior Managers participate actively. A lot of senior executives from other companies continue to benefit from their Toastmasters membership. This is certainly not just for people in the lower rungs.

Create a policy that motivate people to join and participate regularly. I have a template for that as well. I will send this to you if you ask me for it.

Have the HR Head actively champion and participate in the club meetings and affairs. It’s a good hunting ground for future leaders in the company.

Here are a few links for you if you wish to know more about corporate Toastmasterring:
Corporate Toastmaster How-Tos


  1. Ed:

    You've made some very compelling arguments here concerning both the need for and the value gained from corporate Toastmasters clubs.

    I am a member of a corporate club, and I believe that the skills developed by club members are a great asset to the company in numerous ways.

  2. Pinoy toastmasters really make waves wherever. There are wo Pinoys in Saudi, i think, making waves as public speakers.. here's a link :)


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