I believe that communication and leadership skills are important in my personal and professional life. You may agree, but have no idea how to build these skills, or maybe you feel like they are something great leaders are born with which you cannot hope to replicate. I've been a member of Toastmasters for a number of years now, and I can say with certainty that while some people are naturally more gifted in these areas than others, these skills can absolutely be taught.
Did you know that some of the top speakers in the world once had major speaking disabilities? I didn't until I started seeing how people go from shaking in front of the lectern to being confident public speakers and leaders on a regular basis. Let's dive into how to improve your communication and leadership skills.
3 Steps To Building Better Speaking and Leadership Skills
1. Show Up
Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is just showing up”. I've found this to be true in nearly every aspect of my life. When I show up consistently, things have a way of working out.
“80% of success is just showing up” -Woody Allen
If you want to improve your communication and leadership skills, you need to show up on a very regular basis to somewhere where these skills can be practiced and refined. For communication and leadership skills, that's where Toastmasters comes in. Toastmasters is one of the only organizations I know of that is completely dedicated to improving communication and leadership skills. Find a local Toastmasters club and start showing up!
Visit Toastmasters.org and click the find a club to find a club near you. Then just show up to each meeting! Congrats, once you've taken this step you're 80% of the way to achieving your goal!
2. Power Up
Once you've started showing up, now you need to power up. Power up in Toastmasters by first requesting a mentor and asking them any questions that you have. Visit the Toastmasters web page and start reading through the articles. Watch some Toastmaster videos on YouTube. Read through the manuals once you've received them. Get evaluations of your projects as you go along. Look at the educational materials and membership record and start down the communications and leadership tracks.
Read some books on leadership. I'd suggest starting with The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell. You can purchase that one through Amazon by clicking here, or for a full list of books that I feel are indispensable for today's leaders click here.
Powering up is simply about learning about the subject matter in any way you can based on other people's experience. Surround yourself with people that already have experience in whatever you want to learn on a regular basis, read people's stories who have been there done that, and good things will happen!
3. Step Up
This is where the rubber meets the road, once you've shown up and powered up, now you need to step up. Learning any new skill involves practice and then feedback. This is a two step loop which has been highly refined in Toastmasters, and you must step up and start practicing if you are going to evolve as a speaker and leader. Sign up for roles and speaking slots at the meetings. Let the officer team know that you are interested in being part of the leadership of the club in the future. Start practicing your skills.
Are you scared to step up because you believe you suck at public speaking at the moment? Let me ask you this, does a baby start out being able to do incredible acrobatic skills?
The baby starts out rolling around, then moves to crawling, then starts taking a few steps. Years down the line with proper coaching and enough time, that baby may turn into an awesome gymnast, but it doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen by chance. It's the same thing with any skill. Most great communicators did not start out that way, they practiced and practiced until they became great communicators. You must make a conscious decision if you want to become a great communicator and leader, and then take action to make that decision a reality.
Show Up, Power Up, and Step Up and you will be amazed at how quickly you will progress!