Not everyone should join Northrise Toastmasters
It's not just a matter of whether you're a lark or an owl - whether you function best in the morning or evening.
No, there's a lot more to it than that.
A lot more.
Northrise is about committed members, people of common purpose, people who want to improve their own communication skills and help others to do the same.
And this involves some effort and dedication. It's a lot of fun, but it also needs some grit.
After all, joining Toastmasters is easy, you just pay a little money and you're in. Getting the full benefit from your membership takes more.
Northrise is the only breakfast Toastmaster club on the North Shore. Breakfast meetings mean that you start meeting days on a high, having enjoyed a great and challenging meeting.
For a lot of people, breakfast meetings aren't just good because they are like flying starts anyway, but also because breakfast meetings don't interfere with the rest of your day. Your day and evening timetable is still free.
But it's also about discipline - you have to show up reasonably regularly to get maximum benefit from the program. Every function at meetings is rostered carefully, not just the speeches, but everything you see on the Agenda at meetings. People depend on knowing whether you'll be there or not, it's all part of the mutual support system.
The roster system is great. As a new member, you are gradually introduced to a number of roles involved in the running of a meeting and after an introductory period you are also rostered to give speeches. The speeches initially come from the Communication and Leadership (C&L) Manual that you are given when you join up. They start with an Ice Breaker that gets you on your feet briefly to introduce yourself. Then there are nine more speeches to help you progressively build your presentation skills.
For those wanting more specialised speaking skills there are plenty of more advanced manuals to tackle after the first C&L manual. But again, it's all about discipline. While everyone is keen to help you, nobody can do it for you.
One thing Toastmasters can do for each other though, is offer effective and encouraging feedback. Each manual assignment has provision for another more senior club member to insert a written set of comments on how you are progressing, point out what you did well and make suggestions for changes for your next presentation. Your evaluator will also give a brief verbal summary of these comments to the meeting. The peer to peer feedback system of evaluation that Toastmasters offers is very effective as a learning tool.
Once new Toastmasters have found their feet, they too are taught the evaluation process. This is another valuable area of Toastmaster training that enables members to help each other grow.
How long does it all take? Some people complete their C&L manual in 12 to18 months, some take up to 3 years. A lot depends on how motivated you are (did we mention discipline?). Rosters are prepared at least two meetings in advance so you always know when your next duty or speech is due and can prepare accordingly.
Am I on my own? Never. The club has experienced members who are always happy to help and an executive in charge of education whose role is to ensure that you are happy with what you have to do and that you are satisfied with your progress.
Are there other opportunities? Certainly, for those with the grit there are competitions which can take you to national and international levels and there are leadership opportunities.
Frankly, you'd be wasting your time if you only joined Northrise for the social life. We pride ourselves on running crisp structured meetings that are a lot of fun. They need to be fun, or nobody at all would show up. But the meetings aren't the social gatherings of a mutual admiration society.
Northrise's meetings are where a bunch of people come together in a positive environment to learn communication skills and self-confidence.