By Alison Tozier
While it was over 100 years ago that John C. Crosby defined good mentoring as “a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction,” it still rings true today. We continue to rely on the experiences of others, who have gone before us, to act as guides as we pave our own path for growth. For those who join Toastmasters, the primary goal is to develop public speaking skills. Who better to ensure the success of new members that someone who has already started this journey?
Clubs set their own guidelines as to who may become a mentor. Some require a Competent Communicator or Competent Leader award while others allow a mentoring relationship with any club member in good standing. For first time mentors and even those more seasoned to the role, the president of Sales and Marketing Toastmasters, Jeff Shaw, has provided three key actions, every mentor should follow to ensure new members are set up for success.
Engage with new members
Begin by setting time aside with the new member every other meeting. Initially a 10-15 minute chat before or after a meeting should suffice. Be sure to include one on one feedback. Often a mentor can provide insights one on one that are very helpful and sometimes don’t come out in the meeting evaluations.
Be a cheerleader
It can be scary and lonely in front of a group of unknown faces. Knowing that someone is in your corner really helps. Be on the lookout for the new member at meetings. Attendance is critical upon first joining the club, when they may be inclined to slack off due to anxiety. Roles like timer or grammarian help to keep new members involved. Check the sign-up sheet and suggest opportunities when needed. Guidance is key. Engage new members when they first join to and it will go a long way.
Goal setting helps new members achieve what they set out to accomplish. Meet with the new member to understand their goals and work with the new member to develop a plan to accomplish them. Earning the Competent Communicator award is a major accomplishment for those new to Toastmasters. Set a date and work out a schedule.
The key is to be an active mentor. Engage with your new member and work to make them a success.