With the advice and guidance they offer, mentors can dramatically improve a fellow member’s Toastmasters experience. To be as effective as possible in this role, mentors are expected to:
1. Clarify expectations. Initially, and throughout a mentoring partnership, both parties must openly communicate their expectations for the relationship to be a success.
2. Be available. Your mentee should feel confident that you are available, within reason, to answer questions and provide support. To make your mentee feel supported, try to
take time for a quick chat, email or text whenever possible.
3. Check in often. Mentoring is a two-way street. For fear of being bothersome, a mentee may hesitate to reach out. If it’s been a while since you heard from your mentee, pick
up the phone to keep the communication open.
4. Encourage goal-setting. Chances are your mentee has goals, which is why your mentorship was requested in the first place. Keep the mentee on track by providing
challenges, and then shepherding the process to help the member achieve his or her goals.
5. Be patient. Mentoring is not a race to the finish line. Yes, there are goals to be reached and skills to be learned, but just because your mentee isn’t moving as quickly as you
would if given the same circumstances doesn’t mean your mentorship skills are lacking. It is important to recognize that every member is essentially a volunteer with different
goals, time constraints and values.
6. Be positive. Stay upbeat and encouraging. Your mentee will have ups and downs. Not every speech will go as planned and not every goal will be met the first time around.
It’s your job to point out the positive and keep your mentee motivated to keep trying.
7. Be kind. Take a page from the Toastmasters code of conduct and always be courteous. Your mentee may not always give the best speech, but you never want to make the person feel inadequate, so choose your words carefully. Always be honest, but diplomatic.
8. Don’t push. A mentee should never feel obligated to take your advice. Mentoring is not a dictatorship. It’s counterproductive to expect a person to always agree or feel comfortable with your suggestions.
— Julie Bawden-Davis