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  • Writer's pictureBarbara J. Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Would you like to become a better communicator and leader? You can!

Young athlete standing on a track wearing a super hero cape and mask

As nutrition professionals, consumers come to us seeking help to improve their lives through practicing better nutrition. We provide them with essential knowledge, practical action steps, and plenty of support and encouragement.

We are experts at promoting healthy habits.

But… are we experts at acquiring and practicing the professional habits we need to succeed?

In what areas do WE want and need to improve?

Two skill sets critical to our professional success are communication and leadership. The Commission on Dietetic Registration lists them as essential Standards of Practice.

According to the updated 2024 Standards, each RDN “engages in information dissemination through conversations, presentations, publications, media, social media with various audiences.” And each RDN “seeks opportunities to participate in and assume leadership roles…”

Excelling in the areas of communication and leadership is fundamental to our professional success. We must continually seek to become better communicators and leaders no matter how long we have been in the profession. To be stagnant in these areas is to become ineffective.

Who and what will help us achieve OUR goals?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has strengthened its emphasis on skill-building in communication and leadership in recent years. Publications such as Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide are one way. Leadership training workshops are another.

More dietetics programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels are incorporating coursework in these areas. Educators and preceptors seek to build strong communication and leadership skills in students and interns. This is accomplished through plenty of hands-on learning.

Practitioners can also study communication and leadership through self-study, webinars, courses, coaching, and most importantly through experience. Both areas are best learned through practice. We learn to be better communicators and leaders by communicating and leading.

What is the best-kept secret for becoming a better communicator and leader?

Where else can nutrition professionals turn to become better communicators and leaders? To Toastmasters! Toastmasters? Yes. Toastmasters.   

With 270,000 members, you can be part of one of the largest self-improvement organizations in existence. This organization has been creating better communicators and leaders for a century and they can help you, too.

No matter where you live on the planet, you have access to a Toastmasters club. With more than 14,000 clubs in 148 countries, meeting both in person and virtually, morning, noon, or evening, there is a club for you.

This worldwide organization is designed to help people from all walks of life become better communicators and leaders. Their tagline is “Where leaders are made.”

I joined Toastmasters in 2001 and have continued because participation has helped me continually improve my skills in these areas. Over the upcoming weeks, I will share more about Toastmasters and my Toastmasters experience. Consider taking advantage of all they can offer.

Toastmasters provides an ongoing, supportive environment to hone your communication and leadership skills. As you repeatedly put what you learn into practice you will become the communicator and leader you aspire to be. I promise.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” ~ Will Durant

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