Christina Seow brings Toastmasters to Les Roches, a great channel for honing communication skills.
The benefit of coming into Les Roches as a Postgraduate Student is the opportunity to share and implement ideas from work and life experience prior to Les Roches.
For the last 4 years, I have been an active member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on developing communication and leadership skills.
There is a set program which members follow to track their improvement as they prepare, practice and deliver during regular meetings. As the hospitality industry is a business of people, communication and leadership are definitely two pillars in which any aspiring hotelier should strive to perfect constantly.
A typical Toastmasters meeting is made up of two sections in a 90-minute meeting: a prepared speech section, where members deliver speeches based on the objectives provided in the Competent Communicator manual they receive as part of their membership kit. The other section, which usually happens after the break, is Table Topics.
It is an impromptu speech section where the Table Topics Master randomly invites members of audience to the stage to deliver a 1 – 2 minute speech on a particular topic given on the spot. Nerve-wrecking? For sure! However, many members done it with so much grace and composure that the audience were fooled into believing that they were informed beforehand (they were not!).
The meeting is run by members for members, and every meeting role is taken up by members. One of the cornerstones of Toastmasters is that every role is evaluated – each speaker will receive feedback on what they have done well and recommendations for improvement. In addition to a verbal evaluation, prepared speech speakers will also receive a written evaluation in their project manual. Members who take up meeting roles can also have their performance evaluated in a Competent Leadership manual. Upon successful completion of all 10 projects in each manual, members can apply to gain recognition with Toastmasters International.
Having started my Toastmasters journey at a university as an exchange student, and having established a club in my home university in Australia, I felt that Les Roches students would greatly benefit from this venture. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Together with the efforts of five other students, after many negotiations with the school management and the local Toastmasters club to gain their support, Les Roches Bluche Toastmasters had its first meeting on 18 February 2014 and chartered with 39 members within the short span of 4 weeks.
We have had weekly meetings throughout the semester so that members had the opportunity to practice speeches. We were blown away by individuals we thought were quiet, but when took the stage, had talents in story-telling, stand-up comedy and more. It is a great way to know people better and to learn different presentation styles. In addition, we also invited teachers with communication and leadership experience to be guest evaluators so that members can learn how good evaluations are done.
The club is still young and has plenty of potential for you to not only hone your communication skills, but also to apply your leadership skills to grow this club into one that is healthy and makes a mark in the Swiss community. If you are new or returning or Les Roches next semester, we welcome you to join the club as a member. By attending meetings regularly and preparing your speeches diligently, you will see your confidence grow exponentially.
What I have described is just a small part of what Toastmasters is. As Toastmasters is an international organization, you can take your membership to anywhere in the world that has a club. I have been a member of clubs in four different cities to date – Vancouver, Melbourne, Sydney and now, Bluche – and have participated in speech competitions and met many other amazing and inspiring individuals. As any committed Toastmasters would tell you, it is the ‘gift that keeps giving’. The more involved you become, the more you will realize how much you can not only gain, but also contribute.
If you are in Les Roches next semester and would like to know more about the club, get in touch via the Facebook page, or come to one of the meetings to see how you can benefit.