Improving Communication and Leadership Skills

Morena Sanidadby Morena Sanidad, P.E., LEED AP BD+C

The key to successful teamwork and leadership is effective communication.  Speaking clearly in an organized manner comes naturally to some, but for many, it is an acquired skill. There are many ways you can improve your communications skills. There are the self-help books, audio books, conferences and seminars, online training videos, classes at community colleges, and so on.  While all of these are very good, I found these sources to be a starting point only.

Practice is the Key

After going to seminars or reading articles and books, practice is the key. Practice will allow you to measure improvements and success. I decided I wanted to improve my communications and leadership skills and wanted a safe place where I could practice and receive feedback from others. I learned about Toastmasters International and joined a local club over a year ago. Toastmasters is a nonprofit educational organization operating in over 100 countries that teaches public speaking and leadership skills.

Joining a Toastmasters group is the best investment I’ve ever made for myself. I used to sit in a meeting full of people voicing their views, except for me. I feared my views were not good enough to throw out there. In Toastmasters, I learned that everybody has his/her own opinion and that only when we recognize each other’s point of view, that we can share our views in a non-threatening way.   I also learned how to listen and focus actively when someone else is speaking. My only regret is that I didn’t join the organization sooner in my life.

How Does it Work?

A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop. There is no instructor. A typical group has 20 to 40 members and a typical meeting lasts 60–90 minutes. Members evaluate one another’s presentations. This feedback process is a key part of the program’s success. Participants also give impromptu talks, lead meetings and develop skills related to timekeeping, grammar, voice, body language and procedure.

Learning to communicate effectively helps you connect better to the people you work with and as well as your family and friends. It can also increase your self-confidence. I have found that Toastmasters offers very cost-effective skill building tools and a friendly atmosphere that is a conducive place for learning.

Local Toastmasters Clubs

Joining is easy! You can find clubs near your work or home by going to http://www.toastmasters.org/ and using the Meeting Locations tool. District 2 Toastmasters serves Western WA from Kent to Canada .

Each club is unique. There are clubs geared for novices as well as advanced speakers, and some have mixed and diverse backgrounds with members of different speaking skill levels, different age group, profession, careers, and heritages.  For information about my club please visit http://www.rhetoracles.org/.

Rhetoracles Toastmasters Club 5092

Rhetoracles Toastmasters Club 5092

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 28, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    This is a skill that everyone should have and it sounds like a terrific environment for learning it!

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