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Toastmasters vs. Professional Speaking Association

I returned from Manchester 3 weeks ago and I’d like to share with you my experience from PSA meeting in Manchester. We do things differently! This is a semi-official motto of Manchester. Indeed, in Manchester you may meet girls with skirt if there is 0 °C outside, you can chat with nice people from ‘Madchester era’ and you can visit a football match of Manchester United – football is not a game, it is a religion! Similarly, you can visit a meeting of Manchester Orators, local TM club.

Well, Orators are a great place with vibrant atmosphere full of fun and enthusiasm, likewise most TM clubs. However, in the UK, Toastmasters are not the ultimate choice for every speaker. Manchester Orators jointly with Professional Speaking Association (PSA) organized a showcase to provide members of both organizations with unique opportunity to compare pros and cons of both organisations. Moreover, members of TM were invited to join the PSA Manchester meeting the following week for free.

I was full of expectations before the showcase. Firstly, I will summarize the differences to TM. TM is a place where everybody regardless current presentation skills may improve his/her communication skills through various projects, impromptu speeches and meeting roles. On the other hand, PSA connects professional speakers who make their living by public speaking. Newbie in PSA is called Associate and he/she later may become a member. As a member he/she may use PSA logo on website or publications. Needless to say, that PSA logo is very valuable piece of promotion. Consequently, most PSA members are more advanced speakers than most Toastmasters are. This was an outcome that I took home from the TM/PSA showcase.

Next week, I visited PSA meeting in Marriot Hotel in Manchester. Yep, the atmosphere of the place was outstanding. Friendly networking was taking place in the foyer in front of a conference room. This networking lasted about 1 hour so that participants may introduce their businesses and exchange valuable contacts. ‘Meeting starts in 5 minutes!’

To boost the atmosphere everybody had to say something brief and interesting about himself. This was really a kicking start!

First speaker on the stage was Clive Wilson who introduced some basics of quantum physics (really!!) and used this introduction for the explanation of energy flows during the speech. He provided us with some great tips and tricks how to energize our audience. In PSA there is no limit for a speech – traditionally, speech lasts 20 – 40 minutes. Next speech was delivered by Steve Houghton-Burnett who talked about gratitude. However, Steve was a man as I am. I would like to be grateful, but how may I be grateful if the things go wrong? What bullshit to write a list of things I am grateful. Steve adviced us a great solution how not to be a Gratitude Junkie. And last speech that I loved the most was given by Andy Lopata who is a networking expert and he also wrote a book that was published by Financial Times.

It was really great meeting and valuable experience. I think TM and PSA are not substitutes but complements. TM is mainly focused on improving presentantion skills. On the other hand PSA is more focused on networking and personal branding. When being in the UK, don’t forget to visit PSA meeting!

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