Won’t play anymore
We’ll continue applying what John O’Sullivan blogged* for the Changing the Game Project. The blog addressed reasons kids quit playing youth sports; we are applying some of his lessons to Toastmasters.
They are afraid to make mistakes
Sometimes new Toastmasters are afraid to make mistakes even though, unlike the students that O’Sullivan mentions, they aren’t “yelled at, benched and more.” However, our own perfectionism drives our desire to excel, so comparing our performance with that of a seasoned Toastmaster makes us fearful.
We, especially when we are serving as mentors, must help our new members understand that each of us is on our own journey of growth, both in leadership and in communications. What someone else does while speaking is what they are doing to learn. So, if their speech seems “much better” than ours it’s not because ours isn’t good enough. It’s because we’re at a different place in our own journey; we’re doing something different. We learn by making mistakes, we stagnate by “playing it safe” or worse, not playing at all.
- They feel disrespected
O’Sullivan’s young athletes were mocked for failing; that’s not likely in any clubs we’ve visited. Sometimes, though, we hear harsh and personal evaluations that don’t help anyone.
For example, at one meeting a speaker giving his third Competent Communicator project was lambasted for poor use of visual aids, for being hesitant in choosing his words and for standing behind the lectern during his speech.
He hadn’t been exposed to using visual aids or use of the stage at this point in his Toastmasters journey. And his hesitancy about word choice was a reaction to his awe for some of the highly-educated and politically powerful club members.
This is unacceptable in Toastmasters clubs; we aren’t at meetings to take “cheap shots” at people who are leaving themselves vulnerable as they learn to give good talks. Further, a new Toastmaster can’t “improve” something he doesn’t yet know anything about. Fortunately, this kind of evaluation is rare.
So, one question to ask ourselves if the club’s members turn over too rapidly, is, “Do we communicate our respect, approval and support to every member – whenever they accept a challenge?” Can we better communicate our respect to help our members – and our membership numbers?