By Mike Maloney, Sergeant-at-Arms

I still remember getting ready for my first Toastmasters meeting.   I really couldn’t fathom anything else except for a selected individual getting up in front of a group of people and simply speak. Isn’t that what we all thought when we first attended our first Toastmaster’s meeting?  We’ll let’s just say, my maiden voyage to my first Toastmasters meeting was blown out of the water after realizing that there is much more to Toastmasters than just speeches.

Public speaking is the cornerstone of what Toastmasters is and will ever be. However, this cornerstone cannot sustain itself without the project management that needs to be integrated into each and every meeting.  There are many project management principles that I can use to describe the functionality of each meeting, but the three most observed project management principles that must happen on a habitual basis in order for a Toastmaster meeting to be correctly preformed are planning, coordinating, and executing.

I saw the importance of planning during the first Toastmaster’s meeting that I attended.  During the end of the meeting, I noticed leadership roles were being assigned for the next meeting.  Members scurried about seeing who will be able to attend the next meeting. I was in total awe.

Furthermore, I now understand the coordination that must go into a Toastmaster meeting.  I remember being the Toastmaster of the Day.  I found myself coordinating by email prior to the meeting to ensure the meeting agenda and all assigned tasks were coordinated.

Finally, without the proper planning and coordination, a Toastmasters meeting will never correctly be executed.  The planning and coordination allowed me to effectively execute the role as the Toastmaster of the Day.  Rehearsals are a key component of executing the meeting, much like that of a speaker getting ready for his or her speech.

These three project management principles illustrate the bigger picture of what Toastmasters is all about.  It’s what guides us all to have a successful meeting.  It’s the planning that drives our synchronization efforts.  It’s the effective two-way communication within in emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings that drives the coordination aspect.  It’s everyone properly knowing their assigned individual tasks during the execution of the meeting.

It’s why Toastmasters is more than just speeches.