Toastmasters and ScrumMasters: Agile Leadership and Effective Communication

I was recently part of a panel on Scrum training, along with other agile leaders in our area that I respect both for their knowledge of agile and for their professionalism. Anyone would say they are successful.

Toastmasters agile leadershipJust before we started, I realized that three of the five panelists were part of Toastmasters. Coincidence? Au contraire! I think there’s a significant impact that Toastmasters has had on these leaders’ ability to communicate, and specifically in our agile and technology space. There are several reasons for this

Agile Leadership and Effective Communication

  • IT is an area of constant change, so there’s always something that needs explaining, in clear, simple terms, to the non-technical.
  • Add the fact that the complex world of building software means communication of deadlines, options, trade-offs, the user’s experience, feasibility and risk and you can see why the role of Project Manager came in part to help communicate between stakeholders and sponsors of development efforts and those actually building and testing the software.
  • Finally, agile attempts to simplify and close this gap by empowering teams via a clear set of priorities and time boxes, fostering more collaboration between the business and product development teams, as well as between team members, and other teams. Communication is vital to the success.

Toastmasters: Where can I get it?

So, where do we get help? Toastmasters is a great, structured and fun way to practice and grow you ability and comfort in speaking. And if you don’t believe me about the fun part, how about clubs like “Grub and Gab,” “Brewmeisters,” and “Cocoa Vino” (yes, you’ll have chocolate and wine as part of the meeting). There are clubs around IT, Project Management, faith and social justice, and over 100 clubs in Orange County, the birthplace of Toastmasters. And there were internal clubs I saw at Blizzard, Dell/EMC, First American, and Kaiser. If you’d like help starting a club within a company, let me know (.

You can find a club on the Toastmasters website, or if you’re in North OC, drop by my wife’s Yorba Linda-Placentia club (obviously the best ;-). Run an experiment, and see what you get!

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