I’m asking myself whether or not Toastmasters is worth the time I spend each month attending meetings, giving feedback, and giving speeches. I’ve had the pleasure of living in the vicinity of three toastmasters clubs in Kuala Lumpur – The Allianz Toastmaster club, the KL Advanced Toastmasters club, and the Bangsar Toastmasters club. I would also mention Pricewaterhouse Coopers, but I have only attended that club once and if that was my gauge of determining whether or not to attend toastmasters I certainly would not.
In my couple of months with Toastmasters I’ve had a pretty good time and have grown as a speaker and listener, as well as enjoyed some very good speeches and the occasional snack. Meetings at Allianz go from 6:00 to 9:30 while those at KL Advanced start at around 7:30 and go to 10. Allianz is composed of mostly younger employees with the splattering of a few old ones, the meeting room is usually pristine and there is a good mix of beginning and intermediate level speakers. The KL Advanced club is composed of mostly middle aged folks with a splattering of younger people such as myself – KL Advanced is hosted by a man who goes by ‘Lucky’ and is is run pretty much like clockwork.
What have I personally gained from being in Toastmasters and spending a few days a month in these meetings instead of relaxing in my apartment? Firstly, I’ve met some pretty interesting people – it’s nice to communicate with new folks when you’re an expat and gain more local friends. Secondly, I’ve learned a bit behind each and every person who gives a speech since their world views and personal life often come out when giving their speeches. From this you can take another perspective when creating your mental construct of what the world really is and how you can approach communicating with similar people in the future.
The only disadvantage, of course, is that you are obligated to go to improve yourself and sometimes time seems to be wasted when visiting guests try to get you to go to their clubs or workshops or if time is wasted from someone giving a unprepared speech.
Adding up the positives and negatives, I must say that Toastmasters is for me a positive thing, as long as I keep learning within it, and meeting new folks. If both of those other things halt then there probably is something better to do.