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Want to Become a Better Gamemaster? Become a Toastmaster!

Posted By Patrick Benson On October 26, 2012 @ 12:00 am In GMing Advice | 5 Comments

As a GM you present, entertain, and lead others. Your role includes management of data and people as you track stats and determine who has the spotlight next. You describe various scenes in order to promote interest and inspire others to take action. These are the skills that if you practice them regularly will take your games from average to amazing.

What if you could have access to an organization that teaches these very same skills and lets you practice them on a regular basis?

Great News! You Already Do!

This organization is called Toastmasters International and it was founded in 1924 as a non-profit institution for the purpose of helping individuals develop their public speaking and leadership skills. Toastmasters’ members encourage and help each other to become more proficient in communicating ideas, while at the same time providing a safe environment for people to practice their skills in. With chapters across the globe in 116 different countries the chances of a Toastmasters club close to where you live are pretty good.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

The reason why Toastmasters will improve your skills as a GM is because in order to progress within Toastmasters you must participate in meetings, prepare and perform speeches, and take on leadership roles. Unlike being a GM though you have a proven curriculum to follow. Here are just a few of the exercises that take place at a Toastmasters meeting:

  • Table Topics: You are asked to speak on a topic with no prior knowledge as to what that topic may be. You must improvise a mini-speech quickly and on the spot. The ideal duration of time to speak for is two minutes.
  • Listening Quiz: Meetings often have a Quiz Master who will ask questions towards the end of the meeting regarding what was said during the meeting. This encourages you to develop better listening skills.
  • Speeches: Toastmasters has several pre-defined speech assignments which emphasize the development of different types of speaking skills. One might focus on body language, another on content organization. These speeches not only help you develop your communication skills, but also strengthen your ability to prepare materials.
GMs need to develop all of these skills as well, but at the game table you either learn from a mentor or stumble through it on your own. With Toastmasters you have 280,000 other worldwide members helping you.

Plus You Will Expand Your Network!

Another great benefit of becoming a Toastmaster is that you will be expanding your personal network, and the more people you know the more likely you are to find new opportunities. If nothing else you will have the chance to give a speech about your gaming group or game, and that might lead to the recruitment of new players or meeting with a fellow GM.

I am not just sharing this with you because I believe that Toastmasters is a great organization. I am sharing this with you because I am a GM who has improved his game, because I joined Toastmasters. Plus I was pleasantly surprised to discover that being a GM also helped me to be a better Toastmaster, because through GMing I had already developed the fundamental skills needed for public speaking and leadership.

So go out and find your local Toastmasters clubs and ask to be a guest at their next meeting. In fact, if you are in my area come check out the Deerbrook Park Toastmasters Club serving the area just North of Chicago, Illinois. I would be happy to meet a fellow gamer, and to see them become a fellow Toastmaster as well!

Are you, or have you ever been, a Toastmaster? Would you join Toastmasters if it would help you to improve as a GM? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on the matter with the rest of our readers!

About  Patrick Benson

Patrick was born in 1975, and is more or less your typical American male for someone of his age. Except he is a tabletop RPG gamer and a damn fine game master! What else matters?




5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Want to Become a Better Gamemaster? Become a Toastmaster!"

#1 Comment By Kyle Van Pelt On October 26, 2012 @ 10:03 am

This actually sounds pretty damn cool.

I can attest to DMing abilities affecting how you perform during a presentation. As a communications specialist in the military, I had to give briefings many times to people who far outranked me with almost no prep time. The ability to recall relevant information when on the spot is very useful in any situation, but I seriously doubt I would have as much skill in it were it not for those potentially derailing moments as an improvisational DM.

#2 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 26, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

I completely agree! Members of my Toastmasters club say that I am a “natural”, but I tell them that I’ve been practicing for years at the game table. Being a GM has helped me develop great communication skills.

#3 Comment By agentlars On October 27, 2012 @ 6:17 am

Great article about Toastmasters. I never really thought about how Toastmasters can also improve your GM skills.
BTW, this is the first time I’ve heard of Quiz Master. I like that idea. I’m going to see if there is any interest of adding that role to our club.

#4 Comment By jpmg90 On October 29, 2012 @ 9:07 am

Wow, turns out there’s a club that’s in literal walking distance from the house I just move out of. I’m going to see if this is something the other GM of our group and I could do. Thanks for the suggestion!

#5 Pingback By Calling all Gamemasters! | Burbank Open House Toastmasters On September 9, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

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