Communication skills are essential to your job search. Being able to speak effectively when networking and interviewing greatly boosts your chances of getting hired. And strong communication skills are equally important once you’re hired.
If you are looking to improve your public speaking skills, one organization to consider is Toastmasters. It’s a nonprofit organization designed to get people more comfortable speaking in front of a group. There are chapters all over, and each group generally has around 20 people. At weekly meetings, participants practice and learn skills by giving prepared or impromptu speeches.
There are a number of reasons you might consider joining Toastmasters:
- Improve public speaking and general communication skills so you can better convey your value to employers and customers.
- Networking – You will get to people across a variety of industries and will likely make some new friends as well!
- Leadership Skills – This is a great opportunity to take advantage of leadership opportunities within the club
- Listening & interpersonal skills – As a Toastmaster participant you will listen to others speak and give constructive feedback.
- Self-confidence – One of the most valuable things you can gain at Toastmasters is self-confidence from giving speeches and getting feedback and support from your peers.
- A resume item – Participating in a group like Toastmasters demonstrates you are always learning and growing, and committed to strong communication skills.
There are also alternatives for people who wish to improve communications skills:
- Community colleges often offer non-credit courses in public speaking
- Your local community center may also offer classes in communication
- You can set up your own group with several friends and commit to supporting one another’s growth through regular feedback
- There are a number of good books about business communication. But practice is important to improvement, so don’t just read about it, try it.
- Volunteer to speak. Even small opportunities like manning the microphone at a child’s track meet will get you more comfortable with thinking and communicating on your feet.
- As you grow your skills look for larger opportunities such as doing a reading at a religious event and eventually being a speaker at a professional conference.
Growing your communications and public speaking abilities will help you toward job search success, and serve you will in your new job, so consider making it a focus.