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Why You Need To Be A Toastmaster

Why You Need To Be A Toastmaster
Toastmaster

I came home for Christmas break last year and the first word’s out of my parents mouth’s were “You look taller, have you grown?”

Only six months had passed since I last saw them, and I hadn’t grown one inch. I was sure of it.

I thought nothing of it until a few days later when I realized what had happened, I’d become a more confident person.

Confidence can do funny things to you. It can change the way you walk, how straight you stand, how high you hold your head, and how your eyes move.

All of these barely perceptible movements come into play when people size you up.

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Several studies have shown that people decide a lot about you in the first two seconds, and the vast majority of it is related to body language.

Malcolm Gladwell related one such study in his best-seller Blink.

The researchers in this study compared the evaluations that two groups of students had filled out about some professors. The first group spent a semester in the class of each professor, and evaluated them at the end of the semester. The second group was only allowed to evaluate the professors based on a two-second video clip of them teaching. The video clip had no sound.

Remarkably, the second group of students, who had seen nothing more than a two second clip of the professors teaching, rated their ability as a teacher in the same order as the first group 78% of the time.

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If they were shown a 10 second video clip of the professor teaching (still with no sound) the percentage went up to over 90%.

Is it really possible that we make up our minds in the first few seconds? Apparently so, and its the power of first impressions at work!

So if your body really is broadcasting such a loud message to the world, do you know what it’s saying?

We can all improve out body language, and one of the best ways I know how is through a group called Toastmasters.

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Toastmasters is a non-profit organization designed to teach public speaking. Members meet once per week (there are clubs in every major city in the World) and work through manuals to practice giving various speeches.

You may be called from the audience to give a two minute speech on the spot with zero preparation! Or you may prepare a speech before the meeting and deliver it while focusing on a specific area to improve. Or you may be called to evaluate another member and offer advice for improvement (and yes, you’ll be doing this with another speech!)

On the surface, Toastmasters is only about public speaking, but underneath it is so much more.

You’ll get constructive feedback in a supportive environment on all sorts of issues, not the least of which is your body language.

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While giving a speech, your nervous ticks tend to come out. It wasn’t until I started going to Toastmasters that I began to see problems in my eye contact and nervous gestures I would make (not to mention non body language problems like saying “umm” ever few seconds).

I watched video recording of my speeches, and I couldn’t believe what I look like! My hands would be clasped awkwardly, or I would nervously put them in my pockets. Sometimes I would pace back and forth or shift my weight uncomfortably.

It was nerve racking to get in front of an audience and give speeches, but I slowly eliminated little body language problems over time.

The more I learn about body language, the more I realize there is an entire unspoken language occurring all around us. Sometimes I like to go into a room and just watch people’s body language. I can often guess the relationships between two people, or how successful a person is, just by observing them from afar (sometimes I go meet them to see if I was right!)

If you’re interested in becoming more successful, you quite simply can’t afford to ignore your body language, and a great place to get started is in Toastmasters. Make it a habit to attend once per week, and in a year you might just be a few inches “taller”.

Brian Armstrong has been a Toastmaster member for two years and achieved his “Competent Communicator” certification. In 2005 he quit his job, started his own business, and achieved financial independence just one year later. To learn how to start your own business, get tips from self-made millionaires, and build the lifestyle you’ve always wanted, check out his web site.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

Here are some study tips to help get you started:

1. Use Flashcards

Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

As Tony Robbins says,

“Repetition is the mother of skill”.

2. Create the Right Environment

Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

4. Listen to Music

Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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5. Rewrite Your Notes

This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

6. Engage Your Emotions

Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

7. Make Associations

One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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