On the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, I have a Toastmasters meeting. Toastmasters is an international organization that helps people to improve their public speaking and leadership skills in a supportive, nurturing environment.
Recently, Financial Money Spot mentioned that joining an organization as an investment in yourself is inexpensive and effective. He mentions Toastmasters as one of the organizations to join.
I agree. Arguably, Toastmasters is the best public speaking training bargain on the planet. It's $20 to join, and $6 per month in dues afterwards (plus whatever the club wants people to contribute for activities, materials, etc.)
The franchises have it
One can start a business a few ways. One way is to create the business model from the ground up, including all of the processes. Although this route means that the entire business is the intellectual property of the owner, the owner is likely to make mistakes along the way, some of them costly.
Another way is to buy into a franchise. There are disadvantages of this, to be sure, but the main advantage is that there is a proven business model. There a procedures for almost everything, from hiring a manager to buying the supplies to cooking a hamburger for the proper length of time. It's more expensive to go this route, but if the owner follows the system, there's a much higher chance of the business being successful.
Toastmasters is very much a franchising operation. I'm the secretary of our club, and I see a lot more of how well put together the Toastmasters franchise is than regular members. There is a process for just about everything. To name just a few:
- bringing in more experienced members in the mix to start a club off on the right foot
- recommending that the Distinguished Toastmasters review the basic skills on a regular basis
- training the club officers early and often
- teaching them how to evaluate their own knowledge of the organization
- creating a website from their incredibly easy turnkey hosting
- setting attainable but challenging goals for membership, skill progress, mentoring, competitions, and more
- providing detailed templates for meetings that boil organizing them down to the fill-in-the-blank level
- encouraging evaluation of just about everything: prepared speeches, extemporaneous speeches, and the evaluations themselves
- distilling the crux of the public speaking process and the leadership process down to manuals no larger than a weekly magazine
In short, when you become a member of Toastmasters, you're buying into a well-oiled system. You're buying into something that has been put through the wringer so many times that most of the kinks are gone.
You're buying into a system that just works. That makes it a wise use of your money and your time.
What other organizations have a good system to them? I'm sure there are others besides Toastmasters. Please share in the comments!