You probably had it. Maybe there are some fellow Toastmasters that still experience the symptoms of this condition. It’s not contagious…just a nuisance. However, you took steps to address this condition and now look at you!

Do you know what this condition is? It is called Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking.

To me, the word “public” alone is fearful – speaking in front of a crowd, a large gathering. One definition for the word ‘public’ is “done in open view”. When I hear the word “public”, I envision more than 50 faces before me.

As Toastmasters, we practice speaking to a small audience. We gain confidence in our ability to speak in front of an audience, whether it’s at work as part of a team; a community group; a church committee or at an association meeting.

The number of attendees at these gatherings range from maybe 5 to 10 to 20. A small audience. Speechcraft sessions and club meetings consist of a small audience.

What does this have to do with Speechcraft? It’s all in the intent to ATTRACT non-Toastmasters to this program.

Generally speaking, Toastmasters International is an unknown entity. By telling the public to join Toastmasters to improve their public speaking skills probably won’t get them even interested in exploring what Toastmasters is all about, let alone sign up for a Speechcraft program or join a Toastmasters club.

Solution? – In your promotional fliers and announcements on social media, why not ask the public some questions about their “fear of public speaking”. Then position the benefits of Speechcraft as the answer to those questions. Your INTENT is to offer a solution to their fear by offering a workshop! For example –

  • Does the fear of speaking in front of a group evoke fear, make you sweat and get your heart pounding?
  • Do you find it difficult to find the words to express your ideas in a clear and concise manner?
  • Do you find it challenging to give effective feedback to fellow co-workers, friends and family?
  • Would you like to learn some techniques on how to make your presentations interesting, informative and interactive?
  • (Here’s the solution): “Consider participating in a 6-8 week Speechcraft Program, where you will present short, effective speeches to a small group while improving your presentation skills with the help from an experienced Toastmaster advisor. All sessions are conducted in a friendly environment, no judgment is made and encouragement is abundant.”

The fear of speaking in front of an audience is all about the non-Toastmaster, not about joining a club to increase your membership strength – that’s a bonus. With the guidance from experienced Toastmasters, you can help them improve their speaking skills.

Sure, as a program host, you want these participants to join your Toastmasters Club...boost membership roster, add more variety to regular meetings, etc. Wait until the last session to make a pitch to join your club. Frequent mentioning of joining Toastmasters could disenchant the participant with the whole concept of Toastmasters and the benefits gained from Speechcraft.

If the program is conducted like an abridged Toastmaster meeting, the participant will feel more comfortable when they attend a regular club meeting…that’s a bonus!

Remember at the last Speechcraft session to INVITE all the participants to your club meeting and assure them they will receive a warm welcome and will be made to feel at home.

I believe as Toastmasters, we want to share our learning experiences; we want to encourage others to gain the benefits that you have gained; and, we want others to experience personal growth and development as they proceed through Pathways.

By marketing Speechcraft as a program to address “What’s in It for Me” (WIIFM) concerns, there is the potential to increase membership numbers, subtly. Continue to be mindful of who is attracted to Speechcraft and focus the benefits of Speechcraft as a solution to their “fears”.

Speechcraft plants the seeds to help grow the Toastmasters exposure to the community. With nurturing, mindfulness and persistence on the INTENT, your Toastmasters club will grow and who knows, maybe it will be responsible for the launching of a new club! That’s a bonus!

Margaret Waechter, ACG, ALB
Speechcraft Chair
District 86

Toastmasters International Values:  Respect • Integrity • Service • Excellence
Our Principles:  Lead By Example • Work / Play as a Team 

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