As we approach the end of another year, it’s a crucial time for us as public speakers, particularly as Toastmasters, to gather our thoughts about the past year, reflect deeply, and set resolutions for the year ahead. This process goes beyond tallying successes or dwelling on setbacks. It’s about understanding our journey, learning from experiences, and charting a path for continued growth and impact.
Here are key questions I consider annually to guide my journey as a Toastmaster and a public speaker.
Gather and Reflect on the Past Year
It is important to start by gathering your thoughts and insights and reflecting on the year that has been.
What were my key achievements this year?
I reflect on my public speaking milestones, like the number of speeches delivered, the number of people impacted, topics tackled, or improvements in my speaking style. Recognizing these achievements provides me with a sense of progress and lays a foundation for future growth.
What challenges did I face and how did I overcome them?
Identifying and addressing challenges is crucial for growth. I review obstacles faced, such as engaging diverse audiences or transitioning from virtual to in-person format and consider how I tackled these issues and what each of those experiences taught me.
What feedback did I receive and how did It help me grow?
Feedback drives improvement. I reflect on the input received, especially recurring themes. Toastmasters offer a safe space to work on this feedback and practice with diverse audiences.
What skills did I improve and which ones need more work?
I assess how my skills evolved over the year, like enhancements in storytelling or audience engagement. Acknowledging areas needing improvement is crucial for ongoing development.
Prepare for the Next Year
Now that we have reviewed our progress back in time, it is time to look forward to the exciting year ahead. Here are the questions that I ask myself:
What are my public speaking goals for the coming year?
Setting S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timebound) goals is vital. For example, I consider how I should expand my speaking engagements and the new topics I want to tackle. I then answer the what, why, how and by when to execute these S.M.A.R.T. goals.
What new skills or techniques do I want to learn or improve?
I am constantly striving to develop specific skills and the upcoming year will be no exception, from improving vocal delivery to mastering storytelling to enhancing virtual audience engagement.
How can I expand my reach?
Strategically thinking about broadening impact is key. I evaluate current platforms and campaigns and consider leveraging new ones, networking beyond my existing circles, or seeking opportunities in different forums or industries beyond the ones that I frequent.
How do I engage better with my audience?
Identify specific skills or techniques you aim to develop in the coming year to engage better with your audience. This could include improving vocal delivery, mastering the art of storytelling, or engaging virtual audiences more effectively. I also explore new techniques for relatable experiences and using technology for enhanced engagement.
The journey of a Toastmaster is one of constant evolution and growth. By introspectively addressing these questions, we gain insights into our development and set a deliberate path for future success. Here’s to another year of impactful speeches, deeper connections, and transformative experiences in the realm of Toastmasters and public speaking!
Written by Satish Shenoy, DTM.