Last night, for the first time in a while, I attended a local Toastmasters meeting as a guest, and it reminded me how much this group should be a requirement for anyone in a PR role.
If you’re unaware, Toastmasters is an organization dedicated to helping its members become better public speakers. Meetings are structured in a way to promote different speaking opportunities and objectives for people willing to try.
For example, there’s a section called “table topics,” in which people are given a subject to speak about and must speak for at least a minute (and no more than two and a half minutes) on that subject.
There are also prepared speeches, which can last for up to 10 minutes.
Think about some of the components included in our day-to-day job.
Pitching Media. Presumably, at some point, you’re going to be on the phone pitching a story (even if you’ve followed most reporters’ requests and sent an email pitch first, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that you’ll have an actual conversation before your client gets on the phone with the reporter).
Providing Feedback. When is the last time you gave the CEO of one of your clients feedback that included something they could do better? The obvious answer should be “every time they do an interview,” but sometimes it’s intimidating to tell the guy (or gal) who’s paying the bills that they can improve.
Being Confident. We all know this, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Part of our role is coming up with ideas that may or may not work. If you’ve been in the business long enough, you’ve probably tried something creative with a client only to have it fail. Sometimes, it’s tough to get back on the horse after we get knocked off.
So, if you have a free night in the next couple weeks, find a local Toastmasters and attend as a guest. You might just find it’s helpful to many of your daily job functions.
Networking, Networking, Networking. You never know who you’re going to meet in a Toastmasters meeting. It could just be your next big client (or a referral that leads to your next big client).