Haris Ahmed Chicago: Why Should You Join Toastmasters?
Haris Ahmed, a Chicago PR consultant, is the founder and CEO of Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., an executive consulting company that does public relations and project management. There is no shortage of PR clients for Pragmatium and Haris Ahmed; in Chicago alone, he has done classes for some Fortune 500 companies. He also encourages his clients to come out of their shell and start speaking in front of new audiences.
When I conduct my public speaking lessons for business leaders, I always tell them to seek out new venues and audiences. It’s one thing to speak in front of people with whom one interacts daily; it’s another to speak in front of total strangers who might not be knowledgeable about your chosen topic. In Chicago alone, there are several groups that teach their members the finer points of public speaking, and the largest ones are affiliated with Toastmasters International. So, why should you join Toastmasters?
Accessibility. On the South Side of Chicago alone, there are three Toastmasters Clubs, and there are at least five clubs in Chicagoland, including one as far as Downers Grove. This means that you can choose a club that’s close to where you live or work.
Discipline. While Toastmasters “table topics” are extemporaneous (the topic is not known before the club meeting starts), each speaker is evaluated according to certain criteria, such as the number of errors in grammar and pronunciation, “ahs” and “uhms” and “you knows” and the amount of time needed to give his/her speech. This helps develop discipline and economy of words.
Advanced training. After a member completes the Competent Communicator (CC) program, he/she has the option of taking any of 15 advanced manuals, which include sales presentations, speaking on television, dinner speech, and interpretative reading. This gives members access to a full range of learning opportunities that would otherwise have limited availability in their respective businesses and communities.
Volunteering. Toastmasters clubs are staffed by volunteers (except for administrative personnel at the World Headquarters); even the Board of Directors is composed of volunteers who get no compensation for their work. Thus, joining Toastmasters is a great opportunity for volunteers who wish to make a positive impact on society through spreading the culture of public speech—and it’s also a great way to create a network of social and business contacts.
Leadership training. Since Toastmasters International is run by volunteers, the organization trains its leaders internally. Whenever a new person joins a local club, he/she is given a copy of the Competent Leadership manual, which contains ten projects that can be completed by taking on various roles in club meetings, organizing contests, and joining or leading membership campaigns. Many Toastmasters districts also conduct leadership training sessions for club officers and non-officer members.
Meeting etiquette. During club meetings, members use the parliamentary method of debate to discuss certain topics. This skill is useful not just inside Club premises; it could also be of importance in political and business settings, where the ability to convince people and argue one’s points consistently are invaluable.
Haris Ahmed from Chicago is not affiliated with any Toastmasters club, but has seen its members in action. Visit this website for more access to public speaking resources.