- How to find a mentor?
You can reach out to the VP Education of your club, if you would like to get a mentor. Alternatively, you can look for people whom you think can guide you to better achieve your learning objectives in Toastmasters. You can reach out directly to them and request them to be your mentor.
- How do I identify a suitable mentee?
You can reach out to the VP Education of your club and he/she can assign a suitable mentee to you. If you are starting your mentoring journey, it is recommended to pick someone who is starting their Toastmasters journey - probably, a new member in your club. You can help them to understand the Toastmasters program and in preparing for their speeches/roles at the club.
- How do you add value as a mentor?
Toastmasters mentoring process begins with mentoring a new member for their speeches and for performing various roles at the club meetings. Unlike coaching, mentoring is a long lasting relationship. You can add value as a mentor by encouraging your mentees to push their limits - and help them discover their hidden potential. For example, you can encourage them to participate in contests or sign up for district level leadership roles. You can also add value as a mentor by helping your mentee excel in their professional career - in addition to excelling in Toastmasters.
- What are the qualities of good leaders and mentors?
- What are the traits of a good mentor?
One of the dimensions of leadership is mentoring. Some of the qualities in a good mentor are:
1. Sensitive to the needs of their protege. Shows maturity and has a broad mind - doesn't fight / argue for petty things.
2. Patience in listening to their protege's view points and the difference in perspectives.
3. Available to their protege - especially, to guide them with their Toastmasters journey
4. Treats the protege with Respect
5. Possesses Knowledge/skills to help the protege
As a mentor, you should possess qualities that IGNITE the SPARK in your mentees.
- Difference between toastmaster under guidance of mentor and without mentor ??
- Can one self mentor and not reach out to anyone?
- Your take on folks, who choose to call themselves as "self mentored"?
Having a mentor vs not having a mentor in Toastmasters is like driving your car in a new city with the Google map vs. without the Google map. A mentor would accelerate your learning and shorten the time it takes you to acquire a new skill. A mentor would guide you to take the most optimal path to reach your goal / objectives (destination!). A mentor would give you feedback to course correct, if you are traversing the wrong path. You would be missing these benefits, if you are not having a mentor.
- How do we keep members motivated for consistent participation, not just for the sake of club growth but for themselves.
- they are not learning (i.e., the club is not providing enough learning opportunities to them) or
- they are not finding enough value in the membership (i.e., it is not worth the money / time they invest in the Toastmasters program).
However, members who leave the club will not explicitly say this. Probably, they are saying "I couldn't find time for Toastmasters" - which means, they are not able to prioritise Toastmasters program in their life.
When a club (especially, the VP Education) provides a personal attention to each of its members, understand their needs and help them by providing learning opportunities, the participation of members would increase dramatically. Assigning a mentor who inspires the member would also help the member to improve their participation.
- How to figure out what is best for you while delivering a speech?
I don't understand this question. If you are wondering how to pick the right speech topic, you can refer to my blog https://toastmasters.saroscorner.com/2012/10/how-do-you-pick-right-speech-topic.html
- How is coaching and mentoring different?
- How to know that you are shifting from being mentor to coach in the process? And how to stop your self in that situation.
- In many cases, mentees expect to be coached rather than mentored. Where does a mentor make the distinction?
Mentoring is a long lasting relationship, while coaching is time-bound and is for addressing a specific problem / skill gap. In mentoring, the mentee asks questions and the mentor provides answers based on their experience/knowledge/skills. In coaching, the coach probes the coachee to help him/her discover answers/solutions to their problems.
I feel that the boundaries between a mentor and a coach aren't very distinct. So, if your intention is to help your mentee, don't worry about whether you are playing the role of a mentor or a coach. There are situations in Toastmasters where being a mentor helps - for ex., reviewing speech scripts, preparing a mentee for a club meeting role etc., However, there are situations where being a coach would help - for ex., when the mentee is playing a leadership role and has a conflict with someone in their team. The techniques that you might've used when you ran into a similar crisis wouldn't help your mentee. So, probing them to discover options / alternatives that they can try on their own would help.
Shifting from one mode to another isn't an issue, as far as your intention is to genuinely help them.
- Your blog is a great source for information for any toastmaster, did writing blogs helped you in your professional life?
I'm glad that you liked my blog. Yes! Writing blogs indeed helped me in my professional life too. I'm working in the software industry and I get the task of writing software requirements document, functional / design specifications and user guides / software release documentation. Writing blogs helped me to organize my thoughts and present information in a very clear, structured and crisp manner. At work, I became the most sought after person for writing customer facing release note documentation and user guides. Being multi-faceted helped me to grow fast in my career.
- Should mentor be a good speaker?
A mentor brings both knowledge and experience. Knowledge can be acquired by learning, but experience can be achieved only by doing. If your job as a mentor is to help new members get familiarized with the Toastmasters roles & responsibilities, the program structure and with the initial few speeches, you don't have to be a good speaker. Having knowledge on speaking itself would do. However, if you have to mentor someone with their advance speaking journey - especially in developing their delivery skills such as voice modulation, eye contact, stage usage, facial expressions - you've to be a good speaker. So, you need to have the experience of delivering good speeches to mentor someone in the speaking journey.
Alternatively, if you are mentoring someone on writing blogs or in preparing for a technical certification, you don't have to be a great "public" speaker. However, being a good communicator always helps you to be a good mentor. An average speaker informs, a good speaker communicates and a great speaker inspires. If you want to be a mentor who inspires his/her mentees, you've to be a great speaker.
- How to mange our time because before mentoring we should know how to handle?
Allocating a fixed time for mentoring, helps you to manage your schedule effectively. For example, I use the early morning time to review speech scripts or speech videos to provide feedback. I take calls from my mentees during my commute time in the evening.
- How do you choose your pathway?
The best way to chose your learning path / pathways program is to go through the online questionnaire provided by Toastmasters International. However, if you are someone who is just starting your Toastmasters journey and if you have joined Toastmasters to learn communication skills, I would recommend you to start with Presentation Mastery program.
- How to mentor a member if the member is not showing interest to learn from mentor?
- What if in a mentor mentee relationship the mentee does not show much interest in seeking help for educational development. How does the mentor handle such a situation?
You can have an open conversation with the member to understand their needs/objectives. Identify areas where they would need help and how you can help them. If you don't find an alignment of your skills/experiences with the member's needs, you can help them find an alternative mentor.
I've seen instances where the mentor is not disciplined enough to respond to mentee's calls or speech script review requests. If this continues for a while, the mentee naturally loses interest in continuing the mentor-mentee relationship.
There may be instances where your mentee would need help in areas where you may not be an expert. During such instances, refer them to the right expert for help. For ex., if your mentee needs help with humorous speeches and if you are not a humorous person, you can recommend them to get help from a mentor who is good in humor.
Staying in regular touch with the mentee would help them in sustaining their interest with both the Toastmasters program and in the mentoring process. Create a proper structure for the mentoring process - work with your mentee to jot down their goals/objectives and timelines for achieving their goals, schedule your sync-up meetings, properly follow through action items, help your mentees when they are stuck, keep them motivated regularly by appreciating their achievements.
- What is the purpose of pathways mentor program?
Pathways mentor program provides a structure for helping you to discover and develop your mentoring skills. The program involves completing 4 assignments:
1. Completing the Level 2 "Introduction to Toastmasters Mentoring" project
2. Complete a self-assessment to check your readiness for being a mentor by completing the "Prepare to Mentor" form
3. Mentor a person from your club with their project (a speech or role in the club meeting)
4. Mentor someone in Toastmasters (or outside) for a period of six months.
At the end of completing the Pathways mentor program, you get a certificate from Toastmasters International.
- How to keep motivation on toastmaster club high during these tougher days?
COVID-19 has impacted the world, in ways that you could not imagine. The easiest thing to do for the club leadership team is to cancel the club meetings. However, that would not help members to sustain their interest in the Toastmasters program. Many enthusiastic clubs have leveraged technology to continue their club meetings, by taking the meetings online. I recommend the clubs to conduct their meetings online, to keep the members motivated during this period.
- Does age matter for mentoring?
No. But, experience/knowledge/skills do matter for mentoring.
- Benefits of toastmasters received towards career
Toastmasters directly helps members to build a successful career. For example, we've 3 distinct sections in any Toastmaster meetings - the prepared speech, the table topics and the evaluation sections.
1. Prepared speeches help you acquire skills that enables to you deliver effective presentations at workplace, in front of clients and team members
2. Table Topics speeches helps you to acquire skills that you can use to organize your thoughts and express yourself effectively. This skill will be very useful when a customer asks you a question in a conference call "Why is the quality of this release bad?"? Table Topics skills can also help you when you are facing interviews. I look at interviews as a series of Table Topics questions.
3. Evaluations help you to develop skills to provide constructive feedback to your team members at work. We do activities such as functional specification reviews, code reviews and even performance reviews of our team members regularly. Being a Toastmaster, your feedback will always be Constructive, Relevant, Motivating, Specific and Personal to the person receiving the feedback.
- How does one know it's time to move on to another mentor?
- How do we know if we are plugged with the right mentor if not what should we do
When your mentor is consistently not available, lacks capability in the area where you want to develop skills or not showing genuine interest to help you, it's time for you to move on to another mentor.
- How do you deal with a mentee who believes you are not as good as they are or has an ego problem to being coached
I don't know how you landed up to be the mentor for that person - if he/she has an ego problem of being coached. If it is like an arranged marriage done by the VP Education, talk to the VP Education and ask him/her to reassign the mentee to some-other mentor. It is not worth wasting your energy in trying to change their perspective on you.
However, it is an opportunity for your self-introspection. Ask yourself, why is Mr.X or Ms.Y, not looking up to you. Probably, they are not sharing their contest scripts with you for review because they think you have neither participated in contests nor done the role of a judge. When you establish your worth by demonstrating your skills - either by participating in contests, or by conducting educational sessions on acing the contests, or by doing contest judge role ... you can earn their trust. Along the way, you would've also acquired new skills, that you can be proud of.
- How to mentor a senior Member in a corporate club who is higher in position in corporate ladder?
When you are mentoring a senior member in corporate world, Keep your ego away and be humble all the times. During your first meeting / interaction, tell your mentee "I'm privileged to mentor you. I look up to you in the professional world. Hopefully, I can also learn from you on leadership skills that will help me in my corporate career". These statements will ensure that "ego" is out of the equation. Regularly, appreciate them for all of their achievements / milestones in Toastmasters.
While giving feedback ensure that you are constructive and sincere. Refer to CRISP evaluations on how to share feedback, effectively.
- How to make online toastmaster meeting effective?
- What are your suggestions for conducting a successful online webinar? Its challenges and benefits compared to an in person conference?
Online webinars are equally challenging when compared to in-person conference. In addition to remembering the content and focusing on the delivery, you'll have to also handle "technology".
- Be prepared for things to go wrong - for ex., the laptop may freeze, your Internet may go down, your mike or speakers may stop working. Have sufficient backups identified and keep them ready.
- Keeping audience engaged in an online webinar is always a challenge. In an in-person meeting, they don't have an option other than listening to you. However, in an online webinar, audience can get distracted with their pop-ups / beeps from their messengers / emails etc., As a speaker, you'll have to keep your content crisp, run polls, ask questions to the audience to keep them engaged.
- Ensure that you are regularly repeating your key points throughout your presentation, as the audience might've momentarily moved out to take a phone call or a bio break in-between.
- It is always recommended to dial from a phone, as opposed to taking the call from a computer speaker/mike. The quality of the voice over Internet will fluctuate based on the available bandwidth. However, in a traditional phone call, the voice quality is always constant and good.
- Online meetings help you to save time, as members don't have to spend a lot of time in getting ready for the meeting and driving to the meeting place. However, online meetings do not provide opportunity to members to network with each other.
- How to encourage, some time mentee is not wanting more
- Highlight their key achievements in the journey so far.
- Tell them the benefits of having stretched goals and aiming high. Tell them stories / examples of Toastmasters who aimed high and achieved more in their professional life
- Be a role model to them, by continuously challenging yourself with more complex roles/responsibilities in Toastmasters
- Why do some of the mentors become obsolete with time.
There is a famous quote - “Five years from now, you're the same person except for the people you've met and the books you've read.”. If mentors don't keep them up-to-date with the latest technologies, tools and processes, they become outdated. For example, if you want to mentor someone today, you'll have to familiarize yourself with the Pathways program - for which, you need to enroll in the Pathways program and go through that experience, yourself.
- As a mentor how can we ensure our mentee is getting what he/she is expected ? Like What regular checks we can do as Mentor ?
During your regular sync-ups, you can ask your mentee feedback about his/her mentorship journey. You can identify specific action items based on the feedback and track progress regularly. If your mentee hasn't reached out to you in a while, there is no harm in dropping a "Hi! How are you" message to them. It is always good to identify your mentee's goals/aspirations/objectives in advance. Once you have an understanding of their goals, make them identify interim milestones with specific timelines. This will help you to regularly check with them on the progress they've made against their own goals and plans.
- What do you do to constantly challenge your underlying beliefs and assumptions?
I believe in "Change Small! Change Often” I have the habit of reading new books regularly. I allocate at least 30 minutes a day to learn new things. Reading helps me to develop newer perspectives on topics that I am already familiar with. For example, though leadership is a time tested concept and I might've already read a dozen books on leadership a decade ago... I continue to read newer books on leadership. Leadership skills needed in a manufacturing world, is very different from the leadership skills needed in a digital world. So, it is very important to regularly read books to challenge your beliefs and assumptions.
Also, I continuously learn new things and new perspectives from my mentees and from my social circle. Attending meet-ups, events and conferences will help you to widen your social circle and develop newer perspectives.
- How can we gain the most learnings from our mentors?
You can get the most learnings from your mentor, by clearly communicating your expectations/goals to the mentor and by periodically staying in touch with them. Ensure that you are getting in touch with them before doing any role in Toastmasters. Actively, seek feedback from your mentor after performing the role and incorporate the feedback.
- What is your message to budding toastmasters?
Follow the 3Rs - Be Regular to the meetings, Do Research (by reading manuals or referring to online materials) before doing any role and Rehearse adequately before performing the role in Toastmasters. Read my blog 3Rs of a Successful Toastmaster for more tips.
- Is this helpful in the field of advertising!?
Yes. Toastmasters program teaches you to brand yourself and also to brand your organization in the community. Sign-up to be a VP Public Relations and you'll learn techniques to brand yourself and your organization in the community.
- How has your mentoring styled evolved over the years?
Some notice-able aspects of my mentoring that has changed over the years are:
- During the initial days, I used to spend hours and hours to modify my mentee's scripts. At the end of the marathon review and edits, the speech script would look like "my script". I would've totally altered the style of the speech. Having evolved as a mentor, today I help my mentees discover their own style, as opposed to imposing my style on them.
- In the past, I used to do a lot of in-person rehearsals with my mentees. Today, with technology, my mentees record a video at their home and send me via Whatsapp. I review it offline and provide feedback.
- I have developed more patience and listening skills, by being a mentor for several Toastmasters for over a decade. I let the mentees talk more and I listen more.
- I don't try to enforce my view points on them. I broaden my perspective my listening to their view points. Instead of giving them a specific solution, I help them discover solutions on their own and make them come up with an action plan.
- How do you enlist volunteers for mentoring?
You cannot force someone to be a mentor. However, you can inspire members to sign up to be a mentor. Training and imparting knowledge on mentoring to more members will help you to mobilise more volunteers for mentoring. When you are looking for mentors, don't restrict to just your club, try to find mentors from outside your club too.
- How do you know when it's the right time to become a mentor?
There is no perfect time to be a mentor. However, in India, Toastmasters follow some guideline, which I think are apt. In the traditional program, someone who has completed 6 projects in their Competent Communication manual and someone who has played all the club meeting roles are qualified to be a mentor. In the new Pathways program, someone who has completed their Level 2 in Pathways and played the various meeting roles in the club, would be qualified to be a mentor for a new Toastmaster.
- Mentoring in critical times
When you are mentoring someone during critical times, you should completely understand the situation / experience that they are going through. For example, I was mentoring a Toastmaster who had lost his job recently and he was trying to get back to work. In addition to helping the Toastmaster with his Toastmasters speeches and roles, I also referred him to job opportunities that I know of. There were instances where I was able to help them with polishing their resumes and even conduct mock interviews. I'm not recommending all mentors to do these things (especially, when you don't have the skill to help them with mock interviews or polishing their resume). However, a small act of kindness from you will go a long way in building a strong relationship with your mentees.
I know of mentees who separate their Toastmasters career from their professional career/personal life. It will not be appropriate for me to peek my nose into their professional/personal life - unless they bring the topic on their own.
- What kind of change do you see in the way business operates post the current global crisis?
Businesses will embrace more technology to do the day to day work. Now that most employees are comfortable in working remotely and trained to use collaborative tools such as Zoom, Webex and GoToMeeting, remote working will gain more traction.
In all the previous crises, we moved work from one (impacted) geography to another (non-impacted) geography to ensure business continuity. However, in this crisis, the entire world is impacted. So, it is not possible to move work from an impacted geography to a non-impacted geography. So, executives will focus on creating more infrastructure for remote working and collaboration among team members. There will be lesser travel across continents and countries and employees would be encouraged to use collaboration tools.
- What are key for Club Mentoring ?
I'm sharing this based on my first experience in being a mentor for a Toastmasters club. In my urge to help the club, I ended up doing all the speech evaluations myself. Slowly, they dumped the General Evaluator role also on me. Eventually, I started doing the Timer, AH Counter and Grammarian roles too. All they did was delivering speeches. I made them very irresponsible and they slowly started losing interest on the Toastmasters program. I realized later, that, as a Club Mentor, your job is to train the club officers and members to effectively do their roles. Here are some key tasks to be done as a Club mentor:
- Ensure that the club officers are trained by the district officers on their roles and responsibilities (encourage the club officers to attend the district sponsored Offices Training Program)
- Develop a Club Success Plan (if required and if appropriate, make the Club officers complete the moments of truth exercise with their club members)
- Persuade the club officers to assign a mentor for each of the club members - either from within the club or from outside.
- Help the club officers find mentors from the community
- Work with the club officers in identifying specific challenges and help them come up with a solution.
- Periodically review the club's progress against the Distinguished Club Program (DCP) goals.
- How one can become better as a mentor?
You can be a better mentor by continuously learning and acquiring new skills. Also, the more people that you mentor, the better you'll become. You are indirectly learning from each of your mentees.
- What is tough to mentor and get mentored
Both are equally tough :)
- How often and how deeply should you be involved in a mentees individual speech?
For an advanced Toastmaster, I give them the feedback and make them do the changes on their own. There are instances where there will be multiple edits and multiple back 'n forths. There are instances where I've said "Looks perfect!" in the first iteration itself.
Your involvement in your mentee's speech should be dependant on your mentee's knowledge/experience level, project complexity and based on your mentee's expectations.
- What is the most effective way to mentor, in your opinion?
- How can mentoring be made effective both for mentor and mentee?
A mentee should clearly spell out his/her expectations and goals to the mentor.
A mentor should provide timely and constructive feedback to the mentee.
In addition, you can agree upon a fixed schedule / time for your regular interactions. Both the mentor/mentee should value each other's time and make the conversations crisp.
All of these will help in making the mentoring process very effective.
- What inspires you on a daily basis?
When you have a well-defined "goals program" you get automatically inspired every day. Identify your personal/professional/social goals and incorporate actions towards those goals in your everyday life. That will inspire you everyday.
In Abdul Kalam's words "Dream is not what you see in sleep. Dream is the thing that doesn't let you sleep".
- What things you keep in mind before giving advice to your mentee?
Ensure that you are giving advice in a constructive tone (similar to how we give feedback during evaluations)
Don't just give them one option - give them multiple options and encourage them to pick one. Better yet, help them discover the options on their own.
Instead of telling them "what not to do", help them understand "what to do"
- What are my top 3 responsibilities as a mentor?
1. Help the mentee understand the Toastmasters program format and the various roles/responsibilities
2. Help the mentee in preparing for their roles (for ex., speech scripts review, dry runs / rehearse of their speech, sharing with them checklists/tips for leadership roles etc.,)
3. Periodically share feedback about their performance and keep them motivated to push their boundaries
- What is the 1 important thing which needs to be kept in mind while mentoring
You should keep in mind that your goal is not to change your mentee to become like you, but your goal should be to change your mentee to become the better version of himself/herself.
Mentoring is not the process of cloning, but the process of creating.
- How to manage Conflicts during mentoring?
Conflict management is an art - not in just mentoring, but in all aspects of life. Some tips for effectively managing conflicts are:
- hear both the sides of the story (for ex., have a open conversation with your mentee and express your view points, in addition to listening to their view points)
- genuinely show interest in listening to their view points
- appreciate the other person's view points
- keep emotions out and objectively evaluate facts/figures (definitely don't try to manage conflicts through whatsapp messages. It will aggravate the problem).
- weigh in pros/cons of each other's view points
- identify optimal solutions / action plan and implement them
- finally, if nothing works, agree to disagree and move on.
- How can I start inspiring people ?
You can inspire people around you by doing the following things:
- Be bound to your principles (for ex., if punctuality is your principle, ensure that you are punctual 100% of the times)
- Be a role model (Walk the talk, follow what you preach)
- Be sincere in helping people around you - without expecting returns
- Talk less, listen more
- By regularly delivering speeches at your club and taking various roles at the club. For example, if you deliver 1 speech a month consistently, you'll automatically inspire many of the new joiners in the club.
- How to add value to the speech
As a mentor it is very tempting to modify the speech to match your own style. However, you should resist that temptation and help your mentees to discover their own unique style. You can add value to the speech by ensuring that it meets the project objectives and by incorporating content such as stories, quotes, rhetorical devices and humor. All of this, would improve the effectiveness of the speech.