Mentoring

Joining a Toastmaster club can be intimidating enough but joining a seasoned club like First Oakville can be downright frightening.

Everyone seems very skilled and the meetings run so smoothly that newcomers often say they felt overwhelmed sitting in through the first session. This is especially true of the 15-minute business sessions which are taken very seriously at First Oakville. (It can seem very intense but it’s always friendly regardless of how it may look – honest.)

So what’s the secret to having fun and getting involved when you’re new?

It’s by getting a mentor. The vice-president of membership will assign you a mentor or you can ask for someone specifically. First Oakville has many first-class mentors so if your first choice isn’t available you will be assigned someone else who will be able to help you.

Mentoring in Toastmasters is one of the secrets to success. A good mentor can help you avoid making mistakes and wasting your valuable time. The Toastmaster International website says a good mentor serves as a role model, coach and confident, offering knowledge, insight, perspective or wisdom useful to the person being mentored.

A mentor may see things in you that you may not be able to see in yourself.

For example, last year one of my mentees was hesitating about competing in the International Speech Contest at the club level. You need to have successfully completely six speeches from the basic manual to qualify to enter this competition (not all competitions have this requirement) and the Toastmaster had six speeches but didn’t think she was ready to compete. (Winners at the club level go onto Area competition and right on up to the International at the annual Toastmaster International convention.)

I suggested, in my role as mentor, that the objective wasn’t to try to win (and honestly I didn’t give her much of a chance to win against the strong competitive field of Toastmasters with much more experience who had signed up) but rather to compete and get used to speaking under the pressures of competition. I thought if she came third it would have been a remarkable achievement as would just competing be a big step up.

Well, as our members know, this Toastmaster delivered one of the best speeches of the year at our formal Saturday night Charter Party. She blew away the audience with her talk and took first place.

Now the payoff here isn’t only in the winning of a prestigious and hard-fought contest. It’s in the confidence that such a win brings with it. As far as I’m concerned, this mentee has graduated 🙂

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