On May 21, 2014, I was officially installed as the President of a Toastmasters Club. I was charged to lead a board of three other officers and a club of 20 total members. Prior to this, I had never been president of anything. I had no formal leadership experience. For the first time, people were looking to me for direction and decisions as we chartered the course of building a club from the ground up. This wasn’t just any club. It was a Toastmasters club.

Toastmasters  is a club that is devoted to building the public speaking and leadership skills of its members. I entered the club expecting to improve my public speaking skills, which I have. But I had no idea how much my leadership skills would grow. The Toastmasters Competent Leadership manual provided valuable guidance on leadership skills that I would put into action doing my work for the club.

I practiced giving constructive and encouraging feedback during speech evaluations. Leading the officers’ board gave me experience in delegation, active listening, and team building. In order to keep the club members motivated to participate in meetings, I worked to plan and implement surveys and an incentive program to ensure the needs of members were being met. Further, I actively sought guidance and constructive criticism from seasoned Toastmasters leaders.

The Johns Hopkins at Eastern Toastmasters club was created to extend learning from one-day workshops to ongoing, self-paced learning and development. If you are a JHU employee looking to advance your leadership skills in a safe and welcoming environment, I encourage you to visit a meeting to learn how Toastmasters can prepare you for your step into leadership.

If you are JHU employee, visit http://jhateastern.toastmastersclubs.org/agenda.html

If you are not a JHU employee and want to find a club near you, visit http://www.toastmasters.org/