1/16/2012- Today’s Word of the Day: REWARD!

Article originally published for the June 2012, Toastmasters District 62 newsletter “The Hub.”

Toastmasters have many unique customs. We clap and shake hands a heck of a lot, count ahs and uhms, and have a word of the day to get members to expand their vocabulary.

One thing I have never understood is charging a fine for not using the word of the day. From an educational perspective, it is absurd.

Someone who may not be comfortable speaking publicly and has worked hard on their speech must now try to use a random word or risk being fined. My take is to let them focus on speaking without any sort of negative repercussion.

Toastmasters does a great job of preparing people to speak in the real world, but in my keynote addresses and professional presentations, I have yet to have someone pull me aside before going on stage and say: ‘Paul, please put the word polygamy in your speech, or we’ll cut your fee by 5%.’

Here are two alternatives to fines I think make for a better solution:

1. Don’t fine – REWARD. If someone uses the word, give them a raffle ticket, or put their name in a hat for a weekly or monthly prize. We are a non-profit group, and local businesses love to give away free swag or coupons. If people win enough cool stuff, I’m sure you will see an increase in using the world of the day.

2. Give the word out a week in advance. Speakers now have a chance to incorporate the word into their talk. Having members purposefully  integrate a word properly in a speech increases the chances they will actually retain that word in their vocabulary.

These alternatives will strengthen speech development if the purpose of the word of the day is to build a club members vocabulary- and building vocabulary IS the point to having a word of the day.


*Original article title and conclusion added to website posting.