Why I don’t think Toastmasters should just be ‘pass’ for every speech

Members of Toastmasters International are expected to give speeches to their club (which could be local, or they could work at the same company, or they can meet entirely online). How often someone gives speeches is entirely up to them.

Usually the speech revolves around a project, or an objective. When someone speaks they are expected to hit their project or objective marks. Even if they don’t, even if they entirely miss the point of the speech, the speech is still considered a success (or a pass). Which means they can move right along to their next speech, however it is encouraged to take the feedback from the speech and use it in future speeches.

Some people try to complete every speech as fast as they can, and they don’t care if they meet the objectives. They just want that prestigious DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) award which is completed by more than just doing speeches. The point of Toastmasters isn’t just to get that award (that is the point for some people), the point is to improve your communication (speaking, leadership, and whatever other reason they joined Toastmasters). The point is someone has put in the work to speak and in return here is something that is given to them for doing that.

Why do I think someone shouldn’t pass every single speech? Sometimes someone’s speech is just so bad that it doesn’t hit the objectives, or goes completely over time (if a speech is 5 – 7 minutes, the person talks for 20 minutes) which doesn’t help them to be a good communicator (or speaker, or leader). Toastmasters is always a supportive environment, but that doesn’t always happen in the real world. If someone messes up something it could mean real negative actions. While in Toastmasters it does give someone the confidence to do more, if we continue to be so supportive it could hinder someone later. It also tells the person that you can’t complete everything easily and sometimes things need a redo (currently someone is always welcome to redo that speech they want at anytime, they could also do a different speech but use the same objectives).

Who should determine if the speech fails? I don’t have the full answer to that, but I don’t think it should come down to the person who evaluates the speech. With every speech there is someone who evaluates the speech and comes up later in the meeting to present their evaluation. It shouldn’t be just one person who determines if the speaker passes or fail’s as they may have a grudge against the speaker, it should be a group of people.

If the person then fails that speech what do they do? They should learn from their mistakes and present the speech again (either exactly the same speech, or a different speech but still meeting the objectives and timing). Yes it will mean someone takes longer to get to the DTM award, but that award isn’t meant for everyone (and in fact there are people that don’t take all the steps needed to get that award and they are perfectly ok with that).

To close, currently every speech given in a Toastmasters club meeting is considered a ‘pass’ or a success. I think that should change, I’m not entirely sure how but it should be changed. However, every speech you give is an opportunity to gain skills and confidence.

Other related articles:

Why Steve Pavlina quit Toastmasters
Why failure is worth your attention
10 Speaking Failures and 10 Lessons Learned

In January 2021 I’m trying an experiment, I’m going to be posting at least 2 blog posts per week. This is not only to see how the engagement is, but how my writing goes over during the time. As always you can contact me directly if you have any thoughts or opinions on this or what I’ve written on. This is post number 52 as part of 100 Days To Offload.


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