The international organization, which works to help people gain confidence in their public speaking skills, can also help new graduates master the art of the job interview.
We use table topics as a way of training and coaching our new grads to expect the unexpected.
Now that commencement season is over and thousands of new college graduates are on the market for jobs, Toastmasters International wants to help.
The nonprofit organization, which has more than 280,000 members throughout the world, says its program can aid new grads in gaining communication skills and confidence.
“A little bit more than 25 percent of our Toastmasters are between the ages of 18 and 34, so we realized this is a segment of the population that can benefit from improved public speaking, communication, and leadership skills,” said Russell Drake, who’s been a Toastmaster for the past seven years and is a spokesperson for the group. “For the last two years, there’s been a corporate recruiter survey that has said that’s what corporations are looking for—people who are able to communicate and who are showing leadership capabilities.”
The group offers a video with advice on how to prepare and perform during a job interview, and its programs help participants learn how to speak extemporaneously, deliver speeches and presentations, and communicate ideas effectively.
In one technique used in Toastmasters programs, for example, people practice the art of thinking on their feet. In the “table topics” exercise, people are given a question and 15 seconds to prepare a one-and-a-half-minute discussion on that subject.
“We use table topics as a way of training and coaching our new grads to expect the unexpected,” Drake said. “It gives a person a chance to think quickly and, with practice, build self-confidence.”
And in a job interview, “confidence is everything,” Drake added. “Confidence means you’re comfortable with who you are and with the information that you’re going to share with your employer.”
Another benefit to Toastmasters groups, Drake said, is the diversity of participants. “There are people who are just starting and some veterans who’ve been around for a number of years, so [new grads] get a chance to get some feedback from some more mature members.”