Should You Mentor?

mentorAsk Toastmasters who are dedicated to mentoring and they’ll tell you that the benefits
of guiding members are numerous. A mentor’s responsibilities typically include the following:

  • Welcome new members and explain the Toastmasters program
  • Recognize and nurture the skills a member already has
  • Inspire mentees to take on more challenging roles and goals
  • Help members avoid common mistakes and attain goals faster and more efficiently
  • Motivate mentees to complete the Ice Breaker and move on to manual speeches
  • Direct members as they navigate new terrain
  • Nurture members’ confidence in every area of life

Mentors who excel share certain qualities, including the ability to listen well, empathize and motivate. Jack Nichols, DTM, a 25-year veteran member, was mentored by longtime Toastmaster H. Al Richardson, DTM, PID, and now mentors others. “Great mentors actively listen to their mentees so that what is being said is fully understood,” says Nichols, who is a member of the Professional Speakers Club 9 in Anaheim, California. “They allow their mentees a chance to speak and then ask specific, clarifying questions that reveal the motivations and goals of their mentees.”

Effective mentors consider what it was like when they were new members. Many of the thoughts and feelings mentees experience are similar to the ones they had, and mentors who more easily see from a mentee’s perspective are better equipped to offer valid suggestions.

As chair of the mentoring committee, Walton often talks about the importance of growth and motivation. “When both of my mentees got to a certain level with their speeches, I began encouraging them to take on executive roles, and both had terms as president of the club,” says Walton. “It became very important to me to keep mentoring them through their term to pass on my experience as former club president.”

One of Walton’s mentees took some time off, but when the mentee resumed her membership Walton suggested she take an executive role to get back into the fold. “Sometimes pointing out members’ qualities boosts their confidence enough that they realize they can take on these roles,” Walton says.

To remain effective, mentors must also stay relevant, says Nichols. “As a mentor, it’s my responsibility to keep myself educated and up-to-date, so that I’m passing on current real-world information that will help my mentees in the here and now,” he says. “When you’re dealing with someone’s future and they’re relying on you, relevancy is really important.”

Enjoy the Journey Mentees undoubtedly benefit from the wisdom of more experienced members. But mentors also profit from the relationship.Become a mentor, and you, too, will have an excellent opportunity to reflect on yourself, your goals and what you want from the Toastmasters program.

JULIE BAWDEN-DAVIS is a freelance writer based in Southern California and a longtime contributor to the Toastmaster.

Welcome to Pathways

Embark on a journey of personal and professional development through Pathways, Toastmasters’ new education program! Pathways is designed to help you build the skills you need to communicate and lead. It is comprised of 10 paths that teach more than 300 unique competencies:


To make the most of Pathways, start by taking the Pathways Assessment online. It will help you choose a path that’s right for you. Next, explore Base Camp, where you’ll be able to access all of the materials for your learning experience, including your feedback, transcript and printable materials. Here you can track your progress, connect with members from your club and view badges and certificates you’ll earn along the way. Enjoy the flexibility of working online or in select print paths on dynamic projects that provide real-world, transferable skills.




Delivering Technical Briefings


A technical briefing is a speech that conveys technical information to a specific audience, usually in a workplace.

Technical briefings should be presented in a way that allows an audience to understand and apply critical information. Technical briefings can range from an engineer briefing a group of managers on a current project, to a retail supervisor explaining a new company policy to the store employees. Follow the steps below to ensure your technical briefings are as effective as they can be:

  • Know your audience. Avoid using too much industry jargon or material that is too technical for your colleagues to easily understand.
  • State the purpose of the technical briefing in one or two sentences and use this summary as the focal point for the entire presentation.
  • Arrange the material into an outline containing an introduction, main points and a conclusion.
  • Summarize the main points of the technical briefing during the conclusion.

A Mentoring Checklist


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

World Championship of Public Speaking

2017 World Championship of Public Speaking® Winners

1st place:

Manoj Vasudevan

District 80

2nd place:

Simon Bucknall

District 91

3rd place:

Kevin Stamper

District 48

Could you be the next World Champion?

Each year, the Toastmasters International Convention culminates in the final round of the International Speech Contest, where the World Champion of Public Speaking® is chosen. In this exciting event, 10 contestants from all over the world deliver 5- to 7-minute speeches that are evaluated by a panel of experienced Toastmasters. After a year of competing in club, area, district and semifinal competitions, these contestants have advanced for the chance to win this prestigious accolade.

Delivering Eulogies


Delivering a eulogy at a funeral or memorial service can be difficult. A speaker is challenged by dealing with their own grief while communicating in an effective and heartfelt way. Here are some tips to help deliver a eulogy:

  • Write out a eulogy in detail and practice delivering it.
  • Limit a eulogy to two or three main points. A eulogy should not be the chronology of a life but a tribute to it.
  • Focus on the eulogized person’s life and times through meaningful stories, anecdotes and quotes.
  • Make a eulogy inspiring. Help the audience deal with mortality and help them improve their outlook.
  • Use appropriate mannerisms and gestures when delivering a eulogy. The atmosphere of a memorial service does not lend itself to overly dramatic gestures or special effects.

Harness the Power of Mentoring

mentor.pngBy developing a member’s skills you improve your own.


It might be depicted as made of metal, but the ladder of success is actually a network of interlocking hands. Those on an upward climb make it to the next “rung” thanks to an outstretched hand, and many of those hands belong to mentors.

Mentoring is the hallmark of success in the Toastmasters program. Members excel when helped by a more advanced member—and new and established members alike accomplish goals they might not otherwise reach on their own. Mentees benefit greatly when mentors pass on their own unique brand of knowledge, insight, perspective and wisdom. In turn, mentors get a chance to give back to their club by helping mentees improve their skills and grooming them for leadership roles.

A prime example of this dynamic is the Management Development Program for Women (MDPW) Toastmasters club in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. In 2011 the club formalized its mentoring program by creating a mentoring committee. “There is no better place to inspire, nurture and support positive growth in yourself and in others than in the Toastmasters pay-it-forward culture,” says Shirley McKey, DTM, a founding member of the club and a mentor.

When the club was getting ready to charter 10 years ago, McKey and others received help from a dozen or more members from District 61. “As founding members with little Toastmasters experience, we learned from our main mentors, Richard Inomata and Mark Ashmore, who had gained experience in other clubs,” she says. “We quickly learned from them how to mentor each other and succeed as a club.”

The club came out of the MDPW program at the Centre for Research & Education on Women and Work, based at Carleton University’s Eric Sprott School of Business in Ottawa. The program stemmed from research that showed women were not advancing in their careers at the same pace as men, says Aemilia Jarvis, the center’s associate director and a club member. The MDPW program, which focuses on the soft skills women need to lead effectively in the workplace, pairs nicely with Toastmasters. “Having a mentor is very important to any woman who would like to advance in her career,” Jarvis says.

Anatomy of a Mentoring Committee In the club’s early years, charter members learned from each other as they moved through the Toastmasters program. “We didn’t think about openly sharing what we had learned with new members because we didn’t want to seem pushy,” says McKey. “Unwittingly, we had expected that new members would learn through osmosis, much as we had. We didn’t recognize that new members were seeing us as cliquish and unwelcoming.”

Through a member survey, the founding members analyzed why guests were not joining and new members weren’t staying. It was then that they put a formal mentoring program into place. In 2011, one of the club’s founding members, Margaret Walton, was named chair of the group’s first official mentoring committee. Walton, ACS, ALB, gathered all the information she could find on Toastmasters mentoring and developed customized tools for the club. Walton sent an email to the club’s most experienced members, asking for mentor volunteers. The original mentoring committee, which started with five active members, now has 13.

To ensure the success of the mentoring program, and to help mentors and mentees connect, Walton gathers information on all members and matches
mentors to mentees based on what she knows about their personalities. She asks all mentees to complete a questionnaire regarding their background, interests and objectives, including areas in which they want to improve.

Each mentee also gets a development worksheet with the name and contact information of his or her mentor, a place for goals and objectives, suggested actions and target dates, and a checklist to help mentees know what to expect after the first week, first month, second month and so on.

“When you’re dealing with someone’s
future and they’re relying on you,
relevancy is really important.”
— Toastmasters mentor Jack Nichols

Mentors are also given direction regarding what is expected of them, including specific tasks such as explaining club roles to new members, discussing the communication and leadership tracks and providing assistance with speech topics.

The committee meets twice a year, or more as needed. Walton keeps communication flowing via email. Although she remains hands-off when it comes to the mentee/mentor relationship, she follows up with all participants every six months. As chair, she handles any problems or concerns that may arise in these relationships, and encourages members to give her feedback.




2018 International Convention


Come to the 87th Annual Toastmasters International Convention

When: August 22–25, 2018
Where: Chicago, Illinois

Mark your calendars and get ready for the excitement of the 2018 Toastmasters International Convention! Here are a few things to note if you plan to attend:

  • Registration begins in April 2018.
  • The convention will be held at the Marriott Marquis, located near Chicago’s lakefront.
  • If you would like to be a volunteer at the convention and join our Helping Hands program, click here to confirm your interest and submit your application. You will be contacted in early 2018 with additional information.
  • Learn about sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities to share, promote and sell your products and services.

For additional questions, please email the Convention Registration team. See you next year!

Accepting Awards


Whether you’re accepting an Oscar or community recognition, Toastmasters International offers these proven tips for delivering a powerful acceptance speech for any type of award:

  • Show your personality. Your acceptance speech should come from the heart.
  • Be gracious. Acknowledge the good work done by your competitors and thank the organization that selected you for the award.
  • Show excitement. You don’t have to climb over chairs or even cry, but the audience should recognize that you’re happy to have won the award.
  • Be modest. Your acceptance speech should be heartfelt but not self-congratulatory.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse with a timer, memorize key people to thank and allow time for the unexpected.

Public Speaking Tips


Whether you’re new to giving speeches or are a seasoned Toastmaster, these how-to articles will help you hone your skills. Get quick and easy tips for how to prepare and present an award, use visual aids and props, incorporate body language into your presentations, and more. With time and practice, you’re sure to see improvement in your ability to communicate and an increase in your confidence as well.