Seeking help from knowledgeable and experienced people can help us achieve our goals and improve our confidence in public speaking. Such people are called mentors.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is an experienced club member who takes a personal interest in and helps an inexperienced new member. The mentor serves as a role model, coach and confidante, offering knowledge, insight, perspective or wisdom useful to the person being mentored. Membership in Toastmasters offers many opportunities, but none so rich and rewarding as the chance to work with a mentor.
Most new members join because they have problems and/or needs that relate to speaking and they expect the club to help them solve their problems and meet their goals. But these new members are not familiar with the club. They don’t know what a timer is for example. Everything that happens in the club is new to them.
In unfamiliar situations people need support, personal contact and reassurance. As a new member you may need someone to explain the programme to you and show you how to prepare for various meeting roles. You will also need help with preparing and rehearsing your first few speeches. Mentors can supply the valuable personal attention and ongoing support new members need.
A mentor programme has many benefits for new members:
• Learn the programme. Mentors help new members become familiar with the CC and CL manuals, club meeting roles and opportunities available through membership.
• Learn club standards and customs. Mentors help new members learn about the club and its activities.
• Develop confidence. Armed with the knowledge mentors provide, new members’ self-confidence increases.
• Participate more and continue to stay in the Club. Mentors help new members become familiar with and enjoy the club and its members. As a result, new members become more involved in club activities and can take on committee roles in the future.
• Quickly learn speaking skills. Mentors familiarise new members with the resources available to them and coach them with their speeches, enabling the new members to advance faster.
Help for experienced members, too!
Even the more experienced members in the club can benefit from having a mentor. Perhaps you’ve received the Competent Communicator award yet you still want to learn more about some particular aspect of speaking – such as speech organisation or humour. If another club member excels in your area of interest, this person could be your mentor and help you to further develop that special skill. Perhaps you admire an officer’s ability to motivate and inspire members. Maybe the officer would be willing to help you learn these leadership skills.
The club as a whole benefits!
When members experience the positive effect of an activity, everyone in the club benefits:
• Have more members. Turnover is reduced because members quickly become involved in the club and develop friendships.
• Have more satisfied members. Members continue to learn and grow and enjoy the club experience.
• Retain more members. When members are satisfied, they stay in their clubs longer and recommend new members to the club.
(Adapted from ‘Toastmasters International’ website) http://www.toastmasters.org/Members/MemberExperience/ClubMentoring.aspx
If you are new member and have not yet found a mentor, then contact our VP Membership & Mentoring or speak to him/her at the next meeting.