Public-speaking jitters are toast with club

International group offers training in a supportive, informal environment

Haddy Abra addresses fellow club members during a Toastmasters meeting

Brett BonderudBlack Press

Just the thought of public speaking fills many people with dread.

Flushed cheeks, sweaty palms, dry mouth and wobbly knees often accompany someone who’s about to speak in front of a crowd.

Whether it’s a social or work function, many people view public speaking as an unfortunate obligation, and wish later they never have to do it again.

But for people who need to speak in public – those in sales, management or the self-employed – or others who desperately want to overcome their fears, there is Toastmasters.

The organization’s aim is helping people overcome their fear of public speaking.

“The greatest thing is to see people go from knocked-kneed to pro-speaker after completing Toastmasters’ speech program and leadership courses,” Sandy VanDeKinder, Toastmasters’ area 63 (White Rock/South Surrey) governor, said.

The organization’s been around for 87 years and currently has 270,000 members in 106 countries around the world.

VanDeKinder said members come from all walks of life and different age ranges.

According to Toastmasters International, 30 per cent of their members earn $100,000 or more per year. Fifty-two per cent are female, with about 70 per cent being between the ages of 35 and 49.

Toastmasters members have included actors (Leonard Nimoy), astronauts (James Lovell) and politicians (former B.C. premier Bill Bennett).

White Rock/South Surrey’s six clubs comprise 114 members, ranging in age from late 20s to 86 years old. Members include a retired school principal, a City of Surrey employee and others in professions where they oversee staff.

Toastmasters was founded by YMCA educational director Ralph C. Smedley in a YMCA basement in Santa Ana, California in 1924.

Smedley thought members needed “training in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings” in a supportive, informal atmosphere.

His approach caught on, and soon clubs sprang up throughout North America.

By 1930, various clubs had formed a federation to help co-ordinate activities and provide a standard program. Toastmasters became Toastmasters International after a New Westminster, B.C. club joined the federation.

Anyone interested in Toastmasters can search the organization’s website, find a club and pop in to any one of them to witness members in action –making speeches and refining techniques.

A newbie can come to three meetings without becoming a member. If they want, they can go to a different club, three times, for as long as there are clubs to visit. Knock four times however, and they’re in membership territory.

Once a member, be prepared to speak. The good thing is it can be on anything. A first-timer should be prepared to do two minutes in front a crowd.

It’s an easy room though.

Toastmasters is about support, VanDeKinder said.

“The sandwich method,” she noted, where members are propped up emotionally and physically if need be, to help them overcome their public speaking fears.

“I didn’t want to get up and speak,” VanDeKinder said, recalling her first time.

She joined because of her work. She was reluctant to speak in front of people, but her job required her to do so.

“It’s a double-edged sword.”

Because of her Toastmasters’ involvement, she got better at her job as director of a senior’s society. She’s been a member since 2009 and area governor since July of this year.

Toastmasters is divided into two sections – leadership and communication.

Leadership means assuming different roles within the organization like that of club grammarian or “ah-counter” – too many ums, ers and ahs, and the audience may lose interest.

The communication component involves various speech projects designed to elevate members’ confidence and speaking power through eliminating awkward pauses.

The speech projects build up speakers’ confidence slowly, with topics members will be interested in. The aim is to build confidence within a nurturing environment – the “sandwich.”

A good speech appeals to an audience’s interest by connecting emotionally, VanDeKinder noted. The speaker should be animated and full of energy and, if possible, funny – a trait that often wins competitions.

“The funny guy always gets it,” she said.

But regardless of what attributes and expertise participants bring to Toastmasters, they don’t necessarily have to be funny. They just have to be willing.

 

Just Posted

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

PHOTOS: Surrey designer uses toilet paper to make a dress for annual Toronto show

‘The dress is very experimental and avante garde,’ says Guildford-based Alex S. Yu

Police issue warning after four overdoses in North Delta

Police and emergency health services use naloxone to revive four overdose victims Thursday morning

Cloverdale town hall adresses climate change and loss of biodiversity

Meeting co-hosted by Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag, Camp We Empower draws about 70 people

Province approves Surrey’s plan to establish municipal police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth gives green light to controversial plan

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

North Van music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Most Read

l -->