If you have attended a Toastmasters meeting, you have witnessed what appears to be a “secret handshake.” If not, it goes a bit like this:
- Toastmaster Chair announces a speaker.
- The speaker approaches the Chair, shakes hands and takes center stage.
- At the end, the speaker turns to the Chair.
- The chair approaches the speaker. The two of them shake hands and then the speaker takes their seat.
That’s it. But the simple procedure carries more than just common courtesy.
Why We Shake Hands
Shaking hands is how Toastmasters transfer control of the speaking space. The chair says, “The floor is yours” with the contact. At the end of the speech, the speaker transfers it back with an unspoken, “Thank you. Back to you!”
But wait, there is more!
The handshake is a brief connection between two people that helps ground the speaker while demonstrating professionalism.
A good handshake (hands are aligned, equal grip pressure and steady eye contact) can be empowering and reassuring to a new speaker.
It’s a simple ritual that often gets overlooked, often at the end of the speech or role. Our thoughts are focused on the speech we just delivered, gathering our props, and enjoying our moment of “I’m done.”
Next time you step up to take center stage, take a moment to remember the power of the handshake for it is so much more than just a courtesy.