Mark Ostrander, writer for Swagelok Company
Do you admire people who can speak well in front of any audience? Have you wondered how they learned to be so at ease while talking? Do you wish you could be a better communicator?
Like most skills, speaking and communicating effectively comes down to practice, repetition, and having a place to learn and get better. And that’s where a visit or two to a Swagelok Toastmasters International meeting can work to your advantage.
Consider Manu Adhen’s Toastmasters story. Manu is a senior technical service engineer with the valve services group (VSG). “When I joined Swagelok ten years ago, I was a very, very shy person. A ‘sit in the corner, won’t talk a whole lot’ kind of person,” he notes. “It was so evident that a co-worker suggested I come to a Toastmasters meeting just to check it out.”
The experience changed Manu in very positive ways. In the beginning, his fear factor for public speaking was a “10” on a one-to-10 scale. Today, that number is down to a one or two. “A Toastmasters club is a safe environment,” he says. “You can practice ahead of time for a presentation, interview or interaction, and get constructive feedback and ideas to enhance your approach.”
Manu also shares that Toastmasters has helped him improve outlining and drafting written communications like reports and summaries.
Every day, Basim Kareem applies what he’s learned from Toastmasters. A former machinist at Falon and now a design engineer in New Product Development, Basim attended his first Toastmasters meeting in 2013. “English is not my first language and communicating well was a primary focus for me,” he says. “Over time, I’ve learned to use voice confidence, expressions, eye contact, body language and hand movements to improve my interactions with others. And, I also learned how to listen more effectively and give constructive feedback.”
Basim says he even practices in front of his children but admits he promises them ice cream for good feedback. It’s how he’s literally bringing home the message that speaking and listening effectively are vitally important in personal, social and professional interactions.
For the workplace, here are some of the advantages Toastmasters can bring:
- Better daily interactions: Whether you’re talking with co-workers, sales and service center associates or vendors, Toastmasters’ tips and techniques can help with presentations, report/summary writing, phone calls and even impromptu conversations.
- Easier discussions with leaders: With more confidence in your communications skills, conversations with managers, directors or vice presidents can be more productive.
- Leadership experiences: If you’re interested in gaining leadership skills, Toastmasters International offers opportunities. Both Manu and Basim have taken on leadership roles. Currently, Manu is the Eastern Division director overseeing 25 Northeast Ohio clubs and Basim is Swagelok Impact Toastmasters Club vice president of membership.
You’re Invited to Visit a Solon Ohio-based Toastmasters Club Meeting
Come as a guest just to see what it’s like. There’s no cost and no pressure to speak. And if you choose to become a member, you can give speeches as often or as seldom as you want.
Two clubs—consisting of a few dozen Swagelok associates plus outside guests—meet in Solon each week:
- Swagelok Impact Club | Wednesdays 11:45 a.m.–1 p.m. at 6100 Cochran Road
- Swagelok OFC Breakfast Club | Tuesdays 7:30–8:30 a.m. at 29495 F.A. Lennon Drive
Whether you’re local to Solon, or further away – you can find a local Toastmasters International club here.