Toastmasters promote skill of public speaking

By Carol Genengels

Public speaking is often at the top of the list of life’s most feared experiences.

Sometimes it’s unavoidable. We’re asked to make a presentation in our club, church or organization. But there are many benefits other than improving our ability to speak. I’ve been a public speaker for more years than I care to admit. I didn’t join Toastmasters until 2015, mainly to please my husband who invited me to visit the local club in Ocean Shores. I have learned a great deal and met some wonderful people.

Benefits of Toastmasters:

1. The best reason to join TM is confidence!

2. Toastmasters take turns leading and speaking in different roles weekly.

3. The public speaking skills learned in TM are used everyday to communicate more effectively with others, whether it’s with our boss, neighbors, family, or committee members.

4. We learn to think on our feet with fun, and I mean fun, Table Topics. Members draw a subject to speak on for 1-2 minutes and say whatever enters their mind. This is one of the most enjoyable activities of the meeting. A blue ribbon is awarded the winner.

5. Joke telling is also a skill that is practiced weekly.

6. Listening skills are utilized as we concentrate on what others are saying. When the main speaker gives his or her speech we also listen for disfluencies, like ah’s, um’s, you know, likes, etc. These are fillers that distract from our message.

7. If you are an introvert, this is a safe and encouraging atmosphere to speak out. Feedback is given to build up and encourage; not tear down and embarrass.

8. Area, district, national and international contests allow members to advance their skills. This is purely optional.

9. Membership currently exceeds 332,000, with 15,400 clubs, in 135 countries.

10. You meet interesting people and make new friends. And, yes, you do learn how to speak better.

Many businesses sponsor employees to attend TM because of the leadership skills it develops. Microsoft, Starbucks and countless other companies including the federal government, sponsor employees.

Our club members range in age from 17 to 80 something. We laugh a lot, learn a lot and look forward to each meeting. To many of us, Toastmasters is the highlight of our week.

The meeting begins promptly at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 8 each Thursday at the local Elk’s club and guests are always welcome.