Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Selling the Toastmasters Concept

I was privileged on Tuesday past to witness what was, in a sense, the culmination of many years of hard work in the midst of what might be considered by some to be trying circumstances.

I am referring to the AC30 speech of Nicholas Mitchell, which he did from the Professional Speaker manual.  Those of us who have been members of Algoa for some time know that Nicholas is a multi-faceted person who strives to give of his best in every aspect of his life, whether it is at work where he has proved his worth in becoming a partner in the firm where he practises law; whether it is at home, where he relishes his role as father of five and husband to Naomi; or whether it is at Algoa Toastmasters, where he is a stalwart member, always happy to lend a hand at Speechcraft or Youth Leadership Courses, or to compete in – and win – the various speaking competitions, at the same time as working towards his ultimate goal of becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster.

It came as no surprise then to hear that the topic of his final (project) speech dealt with the matter of Selling the Toastmasters Concept.

With public speaking regarded by many as a fate to be feared second only to dying, this almost intangible skill would seem to be a really marketable concept. Yet, when one considers the relatively few members in existence it would appear that the Toastmasters concept is a well-guarded secret.

Nicholas is convinced that it is a secret we should all be happy to sell.  He makes the proviso though that it is not a one-size-fits-all concept.  While he offers a basic recipe which can be adapted, he cautions that one should take account of the needs and goals of each individual one encounters before one tries to steamroller someone into becoming a member.

For those of you who wish to rise to the challenge of selling the Toastmasters concept, he suggests an acronym – RISEN.  Let me unpack it for you.

Rapport/Relationship - Trust me; no-one is going to buy anything from you until you have established this.  Out of a trusting relationship you can begin to inform the potential ‘customer’ of the value of Toastmasters. In other words, you can show them how their specific needs can be met in the non-threatening environment that is Toastmasters.

Invitation - Getting someone to attend one of our meetings is half the battle won! It is important that they realise that a first visit is just that – there must be no pressure placed upon them to participate in the proceedings of a meeting, unless they choose to do so. There must also not be any ‘hard sell’ attempt to coerce a visitor into becoming a member.

Sell - Expect some skepticism at first. The financial outlay is always a concern for potential members, but it is up to you to convince them that whatever the cost, the benefits to them will far outweigh those cost.

Eagerness/Excitement - All club meetings should be welcoming and encouraging. Visitors should always be exposed to a product that is slick and professional, but NOT intimidating.

New member - Hopefully, this will be the outcome of a purposeful attempt at selling our product.

So, Algoa Toastmasters – the gauntlet has been thrown. Will you pick it up?


A number of us will set off on Thursday for the annual MaxiCon, which takes place at the Indaba Hotel at Fourways.  We wish Mariannah Lourens well as she represents Division E in the International Speech Contest.   As Denise indicated earlier today in her email, we all hope to come back renewed and full of Toastmasters enthusiasm!

Until next time

Ricky Woods

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dream - 23 April

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

These wise, inspirational words have at times been attributed to Mark Twain; to the writer H. Jackson Brown, and even to Brown’s mother.
The fact that no-one really knows who used them first does not detract from their power.
So, it was these same words that our newest CC, Angie Kivido, used to start her CC9 speech (Persuade with Power) about her dream to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, aptly called “Dream”.
Achieving a dream, according to Angie, is not something which just happens. It has to be aimed at and planned most deliberately. What follows is a breakdown of some of the steps that she took to make her dream a reality. With a little application, it seems to me that these steps would fit the realisation of almost any dream:

Define your dream
This boils down to what has been said before about goals or dreams being SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based)

Believe in yourself
It is self-evident that a dream will remain just that if you,
the dreamer, don’t believe in your ability to attain that dream.

Break out of the rut
Benjamin Franklin said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
So, expecting to realise dream by continuing old behaviours is planning to fail. Success in the achievement of your dreams will require changed behaviour.

Make your dream known
Allowing your dream to be known by others makes it real. There is always fear attached to speaking your dream. Fear of ridicule; fear of failure. However, you would be surprised at how supportive others are once they are aware of your dream. Soon too you will discover that there are others who share your dream. That shared passion will go a long way towards helping you to realise it.

Do not fear failure
There has to be a price to pay if something worthwhile is to be achieved; otherwise the attainment of that dream is cheapened.
If that means that there are moments of failure along the way, so what? Each time you try again it means that you have been strengthened in the pursuit of your dream.

Change your mind set
If circumstances have allowed you to become negative with regard to the attainment of your dream, it is up to you to change the way you are perceiving things. Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes.

Celebrate small successes
Every time you experience a small success on the route to attaining your dream, celebrate. That positive reinforcement will be an incentive to reaching greater things.

These steps seem so simple, yet they helped Angie to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro in 2005! Just imagine what they can do for you.

Talking about the realisation of dreams – 23 to 26 May will see a gathering of Toastmasters from all over Southern Africa at LeaderCon. With world class speakers to entertain and inform us, I think we are in for a treat. We wish the delegates from Division E all the best of luck as they represent us in the Evaluation and International Speech Contests.

If part of realising your dream entails completing a CC or any other project speech, do let me know so that I can slot you into a programme as soon as possible.

Until next time

Ricky Woods