Seven Habits of Highly Effective Toastmasters

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Habits are a part of life. What begins as a simple choice is repeated day after day, month after month and year after year. Over time, our habits — whether good or bad — shape our destiny. To begin 2012, I offer you seven habits of highly effective Toastmasters!

    1. Be early. Great things happen when you are early for a Toastmasters meeting. You can greet a guest, finalize the agenda, hand your manual to your evaluator or help with room preparations. Best of all, you will be relaxed and seated when the meeting starts.
    2. Be prepared. Preparation is vital to a successful Toastmasters meeting. Prior preparation prevents poor performance. When things are done at the last minute, or not done at all, the meeting quality suffers and members stay home.
    3. Be positive. Attitude is contagious. Members join to learn, grow and have fun! Project a positive attitude of fun and enjoyment. Encourage new members to sign up for speaking and leadership roles early and often.
    4. Be supportive. When members show interest and support each other, everyone succeeds. Encouragement is like a mental vitamin, and it begins with you. Nurture a supportive, encouraging club culture and watch your club thrive.
    5. Be courteous. Toastmasters is a people business and all people have feelings. Some members are sensitive, while others are thick-skinned, but all expect courteous treatment. Say “thank you” and “please,” and apologize when appropriate. Treat your clubmates kindly and watch them reciprocate.
    6. Be a goal-setter. Effective Toastmasters stretch themselves and encourage others to stretch, as well. If you are new, reach for your Competent Communicator award. If you have a CC, reach for CL, AC or DTM awards. If you have a DTM, earn another one (like I did). You will grow, and others will catch the excitement and grow along with you.
    7. Be ready for anything! Toastmasters is a learning experience and anything can happen at any time — from fire alarms to power outages to speaker no-shows. Be flexible and seize your opportunity to grow. If a prepared speaker cancels at the last minute, try a five- to seven-minute impromptu speech. You might be surprised at how well you do, and you may inspire your clubmates.


International President 2012