I was in Toastmasters for 2 years.

I got a lot out of Toastmasters.  And right now, it’s not a fit for where I am with my life and my business.

I’ve got 24 focused work hours each week (full-time mom with business squeezed in outside of that), so if it’s not super high-impact and low time-commitment, it doesn’t make it into the calendar.

If you’re wanting to gain speaking experience and improve your skills, keep reading.  Here are the big things to know if you’re thinking of joining a club.

And, if you’re here in San Diego, be sure to read to the end.  I’ve got a low-time commitment, high impact option for you coming up soon.

Here are the big categories with my personal opinions.

Pros and cons of Toastmasters:

  1. Practice in front of Group

Pros:  Scheduled speeches give you valuable experience writing, preparing, remembering and delivering a speech to an audience.

Many clubs meet weekly, so you get frequent practice being in front of a group.

Cons:  In many clubs, speech topics should not be about your business.  You’ll invest a fair amount of time writing and practicing speeches that don’t directly translate to what you want to do in your work.

2. Feedback

Pros: As a scheduled speaker, you get immediate verbal feedback from evaluators, plus written comments from the entire club.

Feedback gives you a lot of valuable information you’d never know without someone watching you.

Cons:  Quality of feedback varies greatly.  All members rotate through role of “evaluator”, so feedback should be taken with a grain of salt.

Toastmasters’ focus can sometimes be on perfecting technical details and formalities (counting filler words and addressing the audience – “fellow Toastmasters and guests”), missing the big point – the overall impact and effectiveness of a speech.

3. Time Commitment and Roles

Pros: There are opportunities to speak on some level at most meetings through your role.  Roles rotate, and range from bringing in breakfast to delivering a joke or inspiration, to being an evaluator or Toastmaster.

Cons:  Most roles involve prep time – learning and preparing how to perform your role within the meeting.  These roles help the meeting run well, but don’t necessarily contribute to you being a better speaker.

“Speaking time” for many roles is minimal.

Final Verdict?

Overall, Toastmasters is excellent for gaining frequent experience speaking at the front of the room, and making long-term, incremental progress in structuring, practicing, and delivering a speech.

If you want a boost to accelerate your Toastmasters experience, a fresh perspective focused on your presence and effectiveness, or simply a high-impact, low-time commitment, don’t miss our first Polish Your Presentation: Group Laser Coaching to Be a More Impactful Speaker on Tuesday afternoon, March 21.  More details here.

Got something to add about Toastmasters or other practice and feedback options?  Leave a comment and let us know!

To your success,