Tonight is our Toastmaster annual dinner/banquet. The one were we recognize all the INCREDIBLE Toastmasters we have in our club and install our new officers. Georg and I are charter members - we were members of the club when it was brand new back in 1990! Can you believe it! That's almost 20 years of learning abut and more so PRACTICING communication skills. The skills that will truly unleash your potential and are key to your success.

You see, I believe that success in life, in relationships, in society, in your career are all related to two things. And these two things are inter-related.

(including speaking, listening, verbal and nonverbal skills, and even messaging skills!)
(which is all about how you relate to people, how they relate to you and how you care - if you care - about them)

I joined Toastmasters because I would become physically sick if I had to stand and give my name. Imagine that! Having these tendencies was not beneficial in my career OR my personal life. I would just as soon no one look at me or notice I was there. How's that for an exceptional way to sabotage yourself? Now I'm very comfortable in a speaking, teaching/training or facilitating role. All because I practiced, I had people who were willing to provide feedback and I was teachable enough to not take offense to it but used that feedback to my advantage. Here are your steps in becoming a proficient speaker:

First, you need to be comfortable and not throw up!
Second, you need to have your comments in a logical order so they flow and it is easy to follow you and what you are saying.
Third you need to listen. Listen to what they say. Listen to what they don't say. Listen to their eye contact, their body language. You can see if your message is getting through or if you need to engage them in any one of a number of ways. Do you need to throw a question out to the audience? Do you need to change your approach and add a personal story or quote? Do you need to change your planned presentation and use a visual to pull them in.
Fourth, fifth and so on includes things like adding meaningful gestures, pauses, speaking at a comfortable rate of speech (comfortable for them, not you), posture, using visuals, eye contact, word emphasis and so on.

With emailing, you should consider many of the same things!
  1. Be comfortable with your writing. If you're not, find a mentor or someone who will read through your emails before you send them and give you hints and helps.
  2. Use a logical order. Introduce your topic and get their attention. Tell them what is in it (reading the article) for them. Concentrate of 5 (+/- 2) key points and give examples, stories or facts to back those up.
  3. Summarize and leave them with a plan of action. What do you want them to do as a result of this interaction.

Consider the same things when you send an email as when you give a speech or presentation.
Communication is communication, no matter how you're engaged in the process.

Now on to NETWORKING! The little thing that makes a HUGE difference in your relationships.

...But this will wait till our next post as I gotta get ready for a banquet!

To success in all-ways,
Anita Lewandowski Brown