Submitted by Toastmaster Hal Shaw
Mentor: A wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
A few years ago, I recall a freshman at 1st Oakville commenting that after a few meetings, it was a bit like watching a basketball game in the dark…he knew there was a lot going on, but he wasn’t sure what much of it was all about!
As new members regularly join 1st Oakville, more of the seasoned members are being called upon to act as mentors to these “fresh, vibrant, green shoots” of toastmastering. Here are a few of my observations that I hope will help 1st Oakville maintain and improve upon the high standards set by our predecessors and mentors.
As “wise and trusted counselors”, mentors need to take an active interest in their mentee’s progress, more than asking “how’s it goin’ ” when we occasionally show up at a meeting. At the outset, try to establish how you think you can help, and more importantly what the new “grasshopper” would like help with. Weekly phone calls discussing upcoming roles, what happened at last week’s meeting or recounting experiences and anecdotes that give the new member a better sense of what we’re all about, all come under the job description.
Corrective action, in almost all cases, will become necessary at some point. We all make mistakes (otherwise, we never learn) and it is the job of the mentor to identify these in a tactful manner and to offer constructive suggestions for improvement. Overlooking deficiencies to “spare one’s feelings” shackles individual personal growth and weakens the fabric of the club. A few obvious examples include lack of preparation for the assigned role, last minute email pleas for substitutes, or spotty attendance. Along with the privilege of calling yourself a Toastmaster, there is a set of responsibilities beyond giving a few speeches.
In most cases, the recipient of your advice will appreciate the guidance. In some cases, we should be prepared for the prospect of the “I’m not sure this is for me” conversation or as I like to call it, “Darwin does Toastmasters too”
As mentors, it is our task to ensure new members understand what they can expect out of 1st Oakville and what their obligations are as well. So, they don’t feel like they’re just watching a basketball game in the dark.
“Remember, free advice is usually worth twice what you pay for it! ”