I’m not a big fan of Toast Masters.
I tried going once a few years ago, but quickly got turned off by its formality, process, and roles. I’ve generally just never liked team sports and associations where no one has control over who can be a member.
Will joining Toast Masters improve your speaking skills? Sure. It’s a system that’s well defined and proven. You know that by joining the group you will eventually speak in front of others and then get feedback. You’ll do that over and over again and overtime you will improve.
As good as a skill as public speaking is, it’s not the sort of improvement I’m interested in. Last year, when I wasn’t working, I learned more than ever before that it’s easier to be productive within a structure than it is when given total freedom and no constraints. I don’t think it’s interesting to be a part of a system that conveyor belts you forward to incremental improvement. There’s not much risk of failing in that system. Were they to exist, I wouldn’t be interested in those sorts of people either. Instead, I find it much more interesting to find people who have the initiative to start projects on their own, and who are able to stick with them. Some of these people may go to Toast Masters, but I know that all of them write and they all have their own blogs.
Blogging is a completely open and free membership, but it’s also self selected. I’m not talking about you or I in this case. Too often the people I know only ever start blogging because of pressure by their employers to start one, so they post once and abandon them, or because they have their own marketing goals they want to achieve. I’m talking about the people you really like or admire or trust and who enjoy writing. Your group will be different than mine, but no matter what you’ll be able to fill your group with whoever you want, across geography and across interests.
You can check in to see how your group is doing once a month or every day. The constraints of having to all meet at the same time, to work at the same office, or to all live in the same city are removed. But so is that guarantee that you’ll get better just by showing up.
To remove constraints is to gain risk.