I want to thank Toastmaster Mark Molder for his kind words about the content I’ve been creating for the First Oakville Toastmasters Blog.
Any member can post a comment here or have their own original post published (just send me an email with the copy) as this is the club’s blog. (My own blog is called The Toastmaster.)
Anyway Mark’s generous comments only encourage me so you can blame him for today’s thoughts. 🙂
I talked to a couple of mentors last night in conversation after the meeting about some of the work they were doing with their mentees.
In one case a mentor approached me with their mentor to negotiate some changes to an upcoming agenda that affected me as a speaker. It was terrific way of a mentee engaging their mentor to help them work with a crusty senior Toastmaster (me).
Another mentor was relating how her mentee was concerned about doing his first speech while using notes. She reassured her mentee that while a very seasoned and accomplished she too still feels apprehensive when giving a speech and that the note thing would pass in time.
Finally my own mentee was anxious that we should get together outside of the meeting time to deepen our mentoring process. A brilliant and very enthusiastic new Toastmaster I asked my mentee when was she doing her icebreaker.
I knew it was coming up but I wanted to start a process.
She said she was on the agenda in a couple of weeks and I noted that if she did one speech before Christmas and then one in the spring and one just before we ended our season that would make three speeches. If she did one more during the summer at the summer club if such is running next summer, she’d have four speeches done over a sufficiently long period for the lessons she gathers to be learned.
Then if she did two more speeches next season before the end of January she’d qualify to enter our International Speech Contest. To say her eyes bulged out of her head might not be taking an illusion too far 🙂
English is not my mentees first language and while her English is at least as good as mine, she’s still unsure of herself speaking before an audience of native English speakers.
I was granted a moment of insight when I heard myself say to her that you didn’t need to be a good speaker of the English language to win the International Speech Contest, you needed to be a good speaker – period.
Here’s an example: One of our other club members for whom English is still an ongoing learning project won best speaker at a recent club meeting. How did she do it?
There were speakers who spoke clearer; whose English was more correct. But neither of the other two speakers of the night had her enthusiasm and infectious ability to make us laugh with her and at ourselves as she regaled us with her exploits of her first day on a new job. It was heartwarmingly delivered and justly won first place.
This is what your mentor can (and should) do for you. They should be someone you can call upon to help you understand the Toastmaster process.
They should be there to share with you their own strengths and weaknesses so you realize you’re not alone and somebody has walked this speaking path before you.
And like my mentee, you should be encouraged to reach farther than you thought possible because your mentor will see possibilities in you beyond what you could ever imagine.
How does this miracle happen? It’s because once upon a time your mentors too were shy and unsure new Toastmasters and someone else, much more experienced, saw something in them too.