How to Earn Respect in Toastmasters

“But Lukas, they’re not interested in my advice,” a frustrated, newly appointed Area Director (let’s call him Ivan) complained to me.

Yeah, it’s not that easy – the fact that Ivan has a “leadership” position now does not mean that everyone will fall silent in awe the moment they see the Area Director badge. Especially when we’re talking about a corporate club where half of the members are managers of something and the other half are directors in the making.

But what can Ivan do to earn their respect?

A side-step question: If you could name one skill most people in Toastmasters came to improve (a common denominator of sorts), which one would it be?

My bet: Public Speaking.

Now, if you could name one skill most people in Toastmasters value?

You’ve got it: Public Speaking.

If Ivan wants to gain respect of people in Toastmasters – be it in the clubs he takes care of  as an Area Director or anywhere else – he must master public speaking.

First of all, he will be a role model, but more importantly – he’ll have the “power” to give feedback to others on how they can improve their public speaking skills too.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

What should Ivan do?

Here are my tips:

  1. Read about public speaking – Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a Public Speaker if you’re  up for something “light” or Nancy Duarte’s Resonate if you want something more systematic. Blogs are fine too, for example John Zimmer’s Manner of Speaking.
  2. Schedule your projects so that you give at least two speeches every month. Not only will you learn, you’ll also show your dedication to learning.
  3. When attending a meeting, take notes on everyone’s performance – and share the notes with them after the meeting. You’ll show you care – and you’ll give them what they want (improve their speaking).

While doing this, Ivan will gain knowledge, skill and will help others improve. He will position himself as an expert in a skill that they value. And this position will get him their ear as he’ll be giving them suggestions about how to run the club.

And as a bonus, Ivan will actually become a better speaker.

That comes handy for a leader in any case, doesn’t it?

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