8 Steps to Encouraging Leadership in Toastmasters

Most people join Toastmasters to better their communication skills, but have you noticed its slogan?


By joining Toastmasters and taking charge of your professional development, you’re already a leader among friends, family, and colleagues.

Becoming a leader is a matter of mentality and experience, and Toastmasters is the perfect community to build both. It’s a supportive and positive environment, filled with opportunities to plan events, build teams, and mentor others. The eight steps below provide a framework to encourage new leadership, either within yourself or those around you.

Or if you consider yourself a leader already, mentor a fellow Toastmaster and challenge him or her to try something new. If you’re convinced that leadership is just for “other people,” think about how you’ve wanted to grow in this organization, and find a mentor that can push you outside your comfort zone and guide you along the way.


1. Gauge Ambition and Strengths

Before suggesting opportunities, evaluate the situation. Does this person want to immediately start leading a team, or play a supporting role first? What are his or her strengths? Myers-Briggs Assessments (free) and StrengthsFinder ($20) are great starting points.


2. Identify Possible Projects

Now match interests with opportunities. Club, area, division, and district events constantly need chairs and functionaries of all experience levels. Mentoring or coaching an entire club, or serving as a district leader, is perfect for more experienced Toastmasters. See http://d4tm.org for more ideas.


3. Establish Mentorship and Resources

If you’re encouraging new leaders, provide them with helpful resources and mentorship. When they know you (or someone else) is available for guidance, it goes a long way. It will even influence how those individuals mentor others in the future!


4. Plan for Regular Check-In Meetings

Simply outlining a project and resources isn’t enough. Regular check-ins are necessary to ensure someone isn’t bored or burned out. Having these checkpoints can help determine if outside assistance or a new approach is needed.


5. Offer Positive and Constructive Feedback

Toastmasters is designed to encourage growth. While many strive for perfection, learning from mistakes has value. While mentoring a new leader, offer helpful feedback and be open to feedback as well.


6. Encourage Self-Reflection Time

True learning is a result of intrinsic motivation… and mistakes. Instead of offering criticism, ask questions and inspire curiosity in the big picture beyond the project. Individuals want to feel connected to their community and purpose, and self-reflection will help them do so.


7. Celebrate Success

Stepping into unknown territory takes courage and should be rewarded. Not only are we conquering one of the greatest fears in the world (public speaking) but we’re trying new things and learning more about ourselves. Even if progress isn’t where you want it to be, remember how we give speech evaluations. Celebrate successes while offering constructive feedback.


8. Light the Way to Future Opportunities

Your role as a mentor isn’t finished when your mentee’s project is over. Evaluate how it went and encourage future involvement. Suggest other projects, and invite them to take mentorship roles. This is an organization for lifelong learning, so continue finding connections between what you learn and what you do outside of Toastmasters.


If you’re looking to get more involved in Toastmasters (or want to encourage a fellow member) but still not sure where to start, contact dd@d4tm.org. There are countless creative possibilities with mentors across District 4 to help you get started. Thank you for your leadership!

About Stefanie Chow 15 Articles
Stefanie Chow began her Toastmasters journey in August 2013 in order to expand her personal and professional network. She is thrilled to be serving District 4 as its District Director. Her crowning achievement is competing twice at the District level of the International Speech Contest -- once in San Diego and once in San Francisco. While she is not attending Toastmasters meetings, she is utilizing her communication skills as an advocate volunteer for Freedom House, a shelter for human trafficking survivors. Stefanie also enjoys her career as a meeting and events professional and spends her leisure time exploring craft breweries, watching Broadway musicals, and running with her Siberian husky puppy Oz!

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