You’ve joined Toastmasters and been assigned a mentor… Or you’ve just accepted or decided to become the mentor for a new member… now what?
Well… in this post, I would like to discuss expectations – what can a mentee and a mentor expect from a mentoring relationship at Toastmasters? And also what we should not expect from a mentoring relationship.
What can you expect as Mentee?
- to be introduced to the club, its members and its way of operating.
- to be introduced to how Pathways and Easyspeak function.
- to receive feedback on the roles that you take on: meeting roles or speaker. The relationship does not limit itself to public speaking skills but pertains to the whole Toastmasters experience.
- that your mentor may not have all the answers to your questions but she/he will be able to point you to the right person.
and you can’t expect that:
- your mentor tells you what you have to do, or solves your problems. That is something that you need to figure out yourself, the mentor can help you clarify uncertainties by asking questions.
- you become a fantastic public speaker in a short period of time. It takes time. Time to practice, to experiment, to identify your strengths, your style. Certainly a mentor will help you to get there faster by providing you additional feedback, however it is important to remember that it is a never-ending journey. Somebody told me once “you’re only as good as your last speech” and we all know that preparation is key. Have a look at this post from John Zimmer for more info about aspects of public speaking and the importance of preparing (particularly at about 03 minutes into the video)
What can you expect as Mentor?
- To develop your leadership skills, particularly when it comes to listening skills, valuable wouldn’t you say?
- To gain experience in the field of mentoring.
- To gain knowledge about Toastmasters and Public Speaking, because as you guide your mentee into the workings of Toastmasters, you will develop your own knowledge. There is an old adage, that says that “there is no better way to learn a topic than to teach it”.
- To exchange with another person, which will in turn exchange with you and share some of their knowledge and methods of working. Would you agree that there is not a one-size-fits-all method to learn public speaking for example?
What you can’t expect:
- to get anything in return from the mentee for your input. Why? because the role is not about having expectations from the mentees, but to guide them. Personally, the only expectation I have is that the mentee should contact me when they have a need. It is my responsibility to make them feel as comfortable as possible so that they are not afraid to do this (the old “Oh I didn’t want to disturb you” excuse). I typically send an e-mail out to the mentee at the start of the relationship to highlight how I function in a mentoring relationship (feel free to contact me to get a copy of it). Are they motivated then the relationship will grow, should they not be motivated (and there are quite a few reasons for this) then the relationship will eventually seize to exist. Regardless of the situation, Mentoring relationships at Toastmasters are meant to be finite in time. With time the mentee will advance in her/his journey and her/his needs will evolve, with a lesser need for a mentor or maybe another type of mentor.
Do you have any valuable point that you wish to share regarding expectations?