SPEECHCRAFT PROGRAM – An Interview With Radoslaw Dabrowski

We truly become better speakers and leaders using the Toastmasters ‘learning by doing’ system.
But how to teach non-members the fundamentals of public speaking? How to plunge them into an atmosphere of a positive and friendly Toastmasters meeting outside of the club?

The Toastmasters  SPEECHCRAFT PROGRAM (SCP) is aimed at quickly giving others the basics of Toastmasters educational values and practices.

It is also the quickest means by which people can jump right into the process of improving their speaking skills.

Radoslaw Dabrowski – an experienced Toastmaster – conducted the SCP this autumn with great success! We spoke with Radek to know more about this initiative and learn the best practices of his and his SCP team!

Q1. What is the main aim/purpose of the Speechcraft program in Toastmasters?

The Speechcraft program is for non-Toastmasters people, its main purpose is to start an adventure of taming the fear of speaking in public. It doesn’t mean people will want to become professional speakers (some of them maybe), but the intention is to help them to practice expressing their thoughts in a safe, friendly and supportive environment. At the end of these workshops, organizers suggest to participants joining Toastmasters organization as the great place to polish their skills in there. 

Q2. How did this idea of conducting the SCP came to your mind? How did you define the target audience? What goals you personally had in mind to accomplish? 

The idea of conducting Speechcraft appeared in summer 2019 when I talked to my friend – Justyna Szumińska (former PR Manager of D108). Constant looking for new challenges, being a Club Coach, working on DTM’s achievement and willingness to do a project together, Speechcraft was the perfect solution for both of us. Target group was the company where Justyna started working in September this year and she wanted to bring her new workmates something special. 

Q3. How do we plan the SCP? Can you share your success plan/checklist what exactly was done and when? 

If we are decided to do the Speechcraft, first of all, we need educational materials – mostly manuals.

Speechcraft set is available on toastmasters.org and it covers: Coordinator guides, Workbooks, instructions for Advisors, some leaflets, certificates etc. As it takes 4-6 weeks to get the package from US, let’s order it in a timely manner ahead. In the meantime we should focus on 2 areas: building the project team (it was my job) and organizing the place and participants (it was Justyna’s role).

Our plan was to do these workshops on Mondays only. As soon as I got the confirmation from Justyna about the specified hours in the company I started inviting people to the project. Also, I began creating agenda for the first meeting to share it with the whole project team one week before the start. Every time agendas were sent to my team on Wednesday evening the latest to give them time for review and feedback.

It is crucial to be very meticulous and foreseeing with building agendas, e.g. please consider applauses after each speech or possible questions (and answers) during explanation of homework. They do prolong the meetings 🙂 One week before the last meeting I agreed with Justyna to extend the last workshop due to many performances of all participants (speeches, introductions, evaluations and table topic speeches), filling out surveys and handing certificates. Therefore it lasted 90 minutes, instead of 60. We also met as project team in the separate room to hand in diplomas of recognition and get some hot feedback.  

Q4. How big should be the team that helps you to perform the SCP? What are the main roles and responsibilities of your team members? 

The Speechcraft team should be as minimal as possible and as effective as possible. Based on limitations as for example: number of participants, size of the room or time for the meeting we need to plan every meeting with details. On the one hand – the most important people in the room are our participants and their number at the meeting ought to be bigger than SCP team. On the other hand, we need to be sure that no-one from organizers is overwhelmed with roles – we may double them, but remember to keep the balance as the quality of our meetings is the measure of our success or failure. 

To ensure dynamics, interest, variety of styles, speeches and gathered experiences, it’s a great idea to invite a different guest every meeting. The participants can learn more and so can organizers – through getting feedbacks from different people. 

An ordinary Speechcraft meeting should include:

  • Presenter (Toastmaster of the meeting),
  • Speaker (it was our guest),
  • Speech Evaluator,
  • General Evaluator,
  • Table Topic Master,
  • Timekeeper and Advisors (mentors – in our case 1 mentor per 2 participants).

Mostly we had 4 people from SCP team + 1 guest at the meeting versus 8 participants and this solution was successful. 

Q5. Please share the results of your SCP. What was performed exceptionally well and what can be improved for the next SCP initiatives? 

As a result of SCP completion we got glad and more self-confident participants who enjoyed the meetings. They also passed the good feedback to their peers who started asking questions about the next series of sessions. It is a real indicator that SCP team did a good job.

What could be improved next time? Mostly two things: recording speeches of participants to help them see their performance and monitor progress and additional 15 minutes per each meeting to have a time security buffer. 

What I am particularly proud of is a commitment of my team: Justyna Szumińska organized the place and the group of partcipants and together with Julia Szkudlarek, Monika Milton, Jerzy Lewandowski and Bolesław Ejsmont supported meetings as mentors. Piotr Chimko, Adam Michalski and Agnieszka Janiszewska-Szczepanik delivered unforgettable educational sessions that enriched and colored our workshops. My team’s work and engagement were exceptional and also a plan of each session.

Definitely the best adventure this year!

Interested in conducting the SPC? Want to learn more? Watch the video recording of the webinar on Speechcraft Program organized by District 108 in November 2019! 

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