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|Hayley Matthews • 2/14/17|
The Short Version: Confidence is key on a first date. How you carry yourself says a lot about who you are, and daters pick up on subtle cues, like body language, when choosing a partner. Mumbled answers and avoiding eye contact won’t win you many points with your date. Toastmasters International is an organization dedicated to developing public speaking and leadership in their membership of over 345,000 people worldwide. Since the early 1900s, Toastmasters club meetings have provided a forum for members to practice speeches and gain feedback from their peers. If you want to rid yourself of nerves before a date and gain the confidence to impress anyone by telling interesting stories, you can attend a Toastmasters meeting and use their resources for self-improvement.
How you view yourself can change how others view you, especially in the dating world. As part of a study conducted by the University of Liverpool’s School of Biological Sciences, female participants sat down to rate the attractiveness of men based on video clips and photographs. The women didn’t know that half of the guys were given fragrant body spray and the other half were left to sweat it out. Yet they could tell which guys looked comfortable in their own skin and which guys seemed like they’d rather be anywhere else.
Some air of confidence clung to the men, just as much as the body spray did, and that was enough to catch the women’s eyes. The female participants perceived the men who smelled good to be more attractive overall — based solely on visual cues.
“Just signaling your interest in someone gets you halfway there, whether you’re a man or a woman.” — Nicholas Boothman, author of “How to Make Someone Fall in Love With You In 90 Minutes or Less”
According to Dr. Monica Moore, a psychologist at Webster University, simply portraying the confidence to look someone in the eye, smile, and make an approach is enough to raise your overall attractiveness. After studying numerous real-world interactions at bars, shopping malls, and other social settings, she found perceived confidence was a more important factor than physical appearance in predicting courtship success.
So, being confident can get you more dates than being attractive, and all it takes is a little practice. Singles can boost their self-esteem in a positive setting by joining Toastmasters International. This global organization is devoted to communication and leadership skills development. The friendly club atmosphere brings out the best in speakers as members reward good habits and point out anything that needs improvement.
Whether you want to work on your storytelling ability, your body language, or your speaking habits, you can find your strong suit by practicing public speaking at Toastmasters club meetings.
By joining a club near you and attending meetings, you can develop strong speaking habits that’ll draw people to you and make you seem more attractive to a potential partner.
“Toastmasters is a very interactive, fun, and supportive learn-by-doing environment,” said Mike Storkey, Toastmasters 2016-2017 International President. “Our mission is to empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.”
On March 24, 1905, Ralph C. Smedley, who was Director of Education for the YMCA in Bloomington, Illinois, brought young men together to practice short speeches because he felt communication skills were important. Ralph named the club Toastmasters after a popular term for someone who frequently gives toasts at parties.
Since that first unofficial meeting over 100 years ago, Toastmasters International has honed members’ communication skills in a social environment. Members give each other actionable feedback on their speeches, encouraging improvement with suggestions about pacing, word choice, expressive gestures, and other public speaking techniques.
Toastmasters International fills their ranks with future movers and shakers and inspires people all over the world to stand up and make a speech in front of an industrious group. Although the organization began as a men’s club, it has since grown more diverse, and today women with bachelor’s degrees make up a majority of the membership.
People have flocked to join the organization, especially in recent years. Membership has more than doubled to over 345,000 members in the past 22 years. According to the Toastmasters website, “Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 15,900 clubs in 142 countries that make up our global network of meeting locations.”
Toastmasters empowers people to make a good first impression by giving them many resources for self-improvement. You can direct your own journey, on your own time, by listening to their global podcast, browsing a video library of speeches, subscribing to the Toastmaster magazine, or reading up on public speaking tips.
Or, you can attend a meeting to learn how to break the ice and communicate with confidence in a social setting. The Toastmasters Education Program fosters learning by doing in a time-tested mentoring process composed of two tracks: Communication and Leadership. Each curriculum involves a series of manuals with plenty of goals, evaluations, and awards that keep members motivated to practice critical skills and improve via peer feedback.
Each year, Toastmasters members strut their stuff at the annual International Convention. Here, aspiring public speakers enjoy the opportunity to dust off their cue cards and compete in a supportive atmosphere. “At the convention, the World Championship of Public Speaking is held,” Mike explained. “This year’s winner, Darren Tay, rose above 30,000 participants from more than 100 countries to win the world’s largest speech contest in front of a capacity crowd of 1,600 people.”
Contestants can choose to compete in six categories: International, Humorous, Evaluation, Tall Tales, Table Topics, and Taped Speech. Joking about “Why I’m Single” or soberly discussing “The Art of Apology,” members explore deep subjects and enfold personal experiences into their speeches.
The Toastmasters’ prompts help you build confidence in your storytelling ability and give singles lessons they can apply to dating. Table Topics, for example, present members with an impromptu conversation starter and challenge them to think on their feet in a two-minute speech — as they would on a date.
So, when your date says, “Tell me a story from your childhood,” you won’t freeze up, but can quickly put together a dynamic anecdote to entertain and entice your audience of one.
Public speaking is very similar to going on a date — same nervousness, same pressure to perform, same desire to be likable and compelling — just with a smaller audience. Strong communication skills translate to a variety of settings and can be particularly impressive to singles because an awkward silence is the quickest way to kill a first date’s mood.
To help members overcome their anxiety, Toastmasters offers speaking and leadership tips. This advice can also work for daters. According to their experts, good speakers need to practice, know their audience, relax, and shouldn’t apologize for being nervous.
“Toastmasters accepts you for who you are, and helps you become whatever you aspire to be.” — Joey Abram, Toastmasters member
In the pamphlet, Toastmasters also puts forth guidelines for how to motivate people by being persuasive. Their recommendations include: Be enthusiastic, don’t slouch, and keep it simple. They also suggest saying “you” and “we” more than “I” and “me” — but I’d avoid “we” on a date until you’re more certain of a long-term future together.
On a date, it’s all about being comfortable with who you are and letting your personality shine through. The Toastmasters guide says it best: “Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.”
The newly developed Pathways Learning Experience revitalizes the Toastmasters education program with online content. Pathways is scheduled to launch in 2017 and is expected to change how people learn public speaking skills. A global online audience will be able to choose from 10 unique learning paths conveniently accessible on the web and in printed materials.
“Pathways is an exciting, flexible, and interactive way to help Toastmasters members build their communication and leadership skills,” Mike said. “It offers members more benefits and more opportunities to learn, grow, and meet personal and professional goals.”
Through questionnaires, quizzes, menus, and instructional content, the program lets members go at their own pace and learn excellent communication skills through a variety of mediums. “In Pathways, members will be able to develop many more skills that are transferable to the world outside Toastmasters,” said Mike. You can learn and practice the skills you need to be a more effective leader and take control of situations thanks to these online tools.
Half the battle of getting a date is simply summoning the bravery to put yourself out there. However, some singles need more than fragrant body spray to make themselves feel at ease on a date. Luckily, confidence is a learned trait, and all it takes is some practice in the right environment — and maybe an experienced mentor to offer tips and tricks.
Toastmasters can train you to speak well, maintain good body language, and engage with people without getting nervous or tongue-tied. Their meetings have been going on for over a 100 years because they genuinely help members grow into strong speakers with valuable skills that are applicable in their personal and professional lives. You never know where your Toastmasters journey will take you. One man gained the confidence and speaking ability to officiate his niece’s wedding, and another couple traveled to more than 30 countries by blending Toastmasters leadership with volunteerism.
“In the age of texting, email and social media, strong communication skills remain highly prized by employers, which makes Toastmasters’ experiential learning program all the more valuable,” Mike said. Whether speaking at a conference or starting a conversation on a date, the skills ingrained by Toastmasters allow members to find success wherever they go.