There will be an Open House and Model Meeting with Leavenworth Toastmasters Tuesday at the Wallula Christian Church, 23789 139th St, Leavenworth from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. This will be a special meet-and-greet opportunity to learn what Toastmasters is all about. There will be a short demonstration meeting, speeches by Leavenworth Club Humorous Speech Contestants, along with refreshments. Toastmasters is a club designed to assist its members develop speaking and leadership skills. Toastmasters regularly meets the second and fourth Tuesdays each month. Becky Lindsay is the vice president of public relations for the club.
1. Becky, can you tell us how the Toastmasters got started and what the founders' aim was in getting people together for public speaking?
Ralph C. Smedley held the first Toastmasters meeting at the YMCA in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1924. As the director of education, he realized that many of his young patrons needed to learn the art of public speaking and presiding over meetings. His goal was to provide a pleasant, supportive and informal atmosphere where his participants could learn and perfect their speaking and leadership skills.
2. Does the ability to develop good speaking skills translate into helping people feel more confident in their leadership skills?
Developing good speaking skills does help people to feel more confident in their leadership abilities. And during a Toastmasters meeting there are a variety of speaking opportunities presented with: planned speeches, speech evaluations and impromptu speaking. There are also several additional positions that club members participate in during the meeting; the timer, the grammarian, the ah counter, the General Evaluator, the Tabletopics Master, and the Emcee of the evening, the Toastmaster. In participating in each role during the meeting, the participants are continuing to grow and learn further leadership skills. These leadership skills focus on delegating, planning, coaching and motivating, offering constructive feedback, goal setting, and time management.
3. Many people list public speaking as one of their biggest fears. What would you say to someone who shows interest in being part of Toastmasters, but who just can't find the courage to try it out?
One of the biggest benefits of learning public speaking through Toastmasters is the supportive and encouraging nature of the club and its members. Each member has at one time been a new Toastmaster and know the importance of supporting new members. A new member's first speech is an ice breaker speech, a speech about themselves! This is a way to ease individuals into the speaking process, and what better topic to start with than talking about themselves! Each new member is offered a mentor, who will be available to assist with learning speaking skills and provide ongoing encouragement. Each new member is invited to speak when they are ready, encouragement is offered to participate in the additional non-threatening meeting positions.
Page 2 of 2 - 4. Humorous speech is one of the categories in which Toastmasters can be creative, what are some of the others and which one is the most popular?
Each fall Toastmasters Clubs host a Humorous Speech Contest, as well as Best Evaluator Contest. This is another great opportunity for Toastmaster members to work at perfecting their speaking skills both in an organized speech or in an impromptu evaluation speech. Speech contests really offers a bit of a different venue and are a challenging event. From the local club level, the local club will send two representatives in each category forward to compete at the next level, from club to area to division to state.
Toastmasters speeches cover a wide range of speech categories, working from manuals designed to help the club member learn the nuances of various types of speaking skills and types of speeches. Skills such as learning how to use gestures, or how to use your voice to your advantage, how to get to the point, how to think on your feet just to name a few. Types of speeches such as; speaking to inform, to persuade, to sell, to educate, to inspire, storytelling, humorous speaking, presenting a toast, presenting an award, and how to introduce a speaker. These are all differing skills Toastmasters work on, depending on their own personal objectives and goals. My favorite speech to give is an inspirational speech and I am always working on is being humorous!
5. In your years with Toastmasters, what are a few of the speeches that have made an indelible impression because of their originality and powerful deliverance?
In 2007, Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch gave his last lecture, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". Professor Pausch had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and yet he went on to inspire his audience with his demeanor, and his words. Professor Pausch spoke in a story telling method, his method was inspiring and encouraging. In terms of Toastmasters, he was not a perfect speaker, but his speaking manner and his ease with his audience was just as inspiring as his message.
I was privileged in 2008 to hear the 2001 World Champion Speaker; Darren LaCroix speak, he was phenomenal! His World Champion Speech was humorous, inspirational and unique. During his speech he actually fell flat on his face! Definitely got my attention.
For more information go to http://2301.toastmastersclubs.org/ or call, 402-310-9416.