21. A New Series: My Personal Journey in Public Speaking: 8. Self improvement as a Communicator
Now with any journey that starts out at the basics, for improvement purposes, we should not be languishing at the basics. Toastmasters' Communication track allows you to improve yourself via the Advanced Communication Route.
After you achieve the Competent Communicator level (i.e. completing the CC manual), there are 3 more levels to go, and I'll detail them a bit here.
Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB):
Complete 2 of the 15 Advanced Manuals below. Each manual focuses on one specific type of communication and has 5 project speeches to be fulfilled.
Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS):
After achieving ACB, one has to complete another 2 of the 15 Advanced Manuals below, PLUS conduct any 2 presentations from the Better Speaker Series and/or the Successful Club Series.
Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG):
After achieving ACS, one has to complete another 2 of the 15 Advanced Manuals below, PLUS conduct a presentation from the Success/Leadership Series, Success/Communication Series or a Youth Leadership Project PLUS Coach a new member on his/her first 3 speech projects.
By the time you earn the ACG award, you will have completed six of the available Advanced Communication Series manuals and will have learned many valuable speaking skills.
Some information on the items mentioned above:
Advanced Communication Manuals
The Entertaining Speaker
Speaking to Inform
Speeches by Management
The Professional Speaker
Communicating on Video
Special Occasion Speeches
Better Speaker Series
Beginning Your Speech
Concluding Your Speech
Controlling Your Fear
Selecting Your Topic
Know Your Audience
Organizing Your Speech
Creating An Introduction
Preparation And Practice
Using Body Language
The Successful Club Series
Moments Of Truth
Finding New Members For Your Club
Evaluate To Motivate
Closing The Sale
Creating The Best Club Climate
Meeting Roles And Responsibilities
Keeping The Commitment
Going Beyond Our Club
How To Be A Distinguished Club
The Toastmasters Educational Program
Personal Tips on Making the best of your Advanced Communication Journey, enjoying it as you go along
After I completed my Competent Communication (CC) Manual, looking at the Advanced portion of the Communication track initially gave me quite a scare (so much more to do!). However, having navigated the process, I found it as one of the most fulfilling and satisfying parts of my Toastmaster journey thus far. Let me explain why.
Before I started moving into obtaining the ACB, I scanned through all the 15 Advanced modules and decided on a strategy. I had to choose 2 modules each for my ACB, ACS and ACG. My strategy was such (in no particular order):
Choose 1 or 2 modules that take the shortest time per speech but teaches me new things
Choose 1 or 2 modules that can help me in my workplace
Choose 1 or 2 modules that can most naturally complement my character
Therefore, I decided and pursued the following modules with utmost enthusiasm:
I chose Humorously Speaking and Storytelling as my natural speech style falls most easily in these 2 areas…. Focusing on these 2 modules helped me hone my personal edge in these areas and made presenting the projects that much more motivating and fun
I also chose Specialty Speeches and Special Occasion Speeches as the projects in the manuals are generally shorter and more specific to special events. Going through these modules helped me expand myself and my personal repertoire in many ways. The short time limits given also helped me develop a personal discipline in keeping time, in being aware of time limits given to a speaker in delivering a message.
I decided to choose Speaking to Inform and Entertaining Speaker to enhance my personal skills in delivering technical topics in a more focused and engaging way. This help me tremendously in my work as I was then required to teach and train staff in my organisation on certain technical topics as part of my job scope.
By employing the above strategy, I maximised the motivation and pleasure that I got as I prepared for the projects and presented the speeches over a period of about 2 years.
Next, when I was preparing for my ACS, I was then President of my own club. In order to fulfil the ACS requirement and also to motivate and encourage my club members, I decided to choose 2 items from the Successful Club Series to present.
Going on memory here, if I remembered correctly I chose to present "How to be a Distinguished Club" and The Toastmasters Education Program" as my 2 topics. While there is no real formula employed here, my personal tip is, let everything you do count towards your personal goals, so that everything you do can achieve at least 2 aims you have. By presenting these 2 topics to my club members, I discharged my duty as a Club President in educating the members on the plan for us to achieve a minimum of Distinguished Club status, as well as bringing me nearer towards my personal goal of ACS.
After that, I had to plan for my ACG. I decided to continue presenting from the Success/Leadership Series by sharing to my club members. Also, I chose one new member to my club and asked him if he needed a mentor to start things out from his CC manual. He was thankful for my help and guidance. This mentorship thing does not just benefit the person being mentored, it also benefited the mentor.
The great thing, I felt about this Advanced Communication track is that everything to be done, if planned correctly, actually benefits at least 2 parties; the person completing it to obtain the goal and the club or members as well. What a good learning: there is always a win-win situation, we just need to find it.