by Kirby LindsayAt the start of the July 21st meeting of the Fremont Toastmasters, the meeting’s Toastmaster, Dave Livingstone, asked members to share their plans for success. One member mentioned her goal to “get rid of the word ‘like’” in her speeches. An admirable goal, and one completely achievable in the supportive community setting of a Toastmasters International club.
“The most common fear people have is a fear of public speaking,” explained Karin Collinsworth, a member of Toastmasters since 2008. She joined the Fremont Toastmasters, which meets Wednesday mornings at 7:30a, and then helped start the 21st Century Leaders Toastmasters, which meets Monday evenings at 7:30p. Both groups currently gather at the Fremont Baptist Church (717 N 36th), and welcome visitors interested in learning more.
Confidence and Community
Collinsworth well knows the power of Toastmasters, as she once saw her father’s career blossom after he took a recommendation to join a club. The leadership skills and confidence helped him advance in his job then, and now, “it happened to me,” she admitted. “Everyone I know in Toastmasters has grown so much,” she explained.
Toastmaster Clubs exist worldwide, yet “all clubs are different,” Collinsworth pointed out, and each has its own personality. The Wednesday morning club keeps meetings to one hour (in deference to members on their way to work), and stays small, at about 21 members. The Monday evening club focuses on leadership development, with a focus on building Toastmaster leader skills.
Such differences lead some Toastmaster members to belong to more than one club. Multiple memberships do allow more opportunities to speak. A Toastmaster member will give a set course of speeches, and belonging to several clubs will allow more chances to give a speech. However, every club also forms its own community, and fellowship, which becomes unique to that club – especially, Collinsworth indicated, in one as small as the Wednesday morning club.
Members can get to know a lot about each other through the topics of their speeches. On July 21st, Don Sivertsen gave an ‘Ice Breaker’ speech on his experiences during World War II - shipbuilding on Harbor Island in Seattle, and then serving in Japan after the bombing. After this, Collinsworth gave a ‘Speech By Management’ titled ‘Manage and Motivate,’ which referenced her work in the informational technology department of Public Health.
Communication And Fellowship
Livingstone leads the Monday evening club, as well as belonging to the Wednesday morning club – and three others. “My main passion is seeing new people come in, and seeing their confidence grow,” he admitted. He has been in Toastmasters for 12 ½ years, and has completed the Toastmaster program three times.
Sivertsen has been in Toastmasters for 6 years, has completed several Toastmaster programs and does speeches in competitions. He already belonged to Toastmasters when he suffered an attack (like a stroke) and had to re-learn how to think. The speeches – as well as the supportive, yet directed community – gave him achievable goals at a pace he could maintain.
“Everyone has a different agenda,” for membership, Collinsworth admitted. People join to become more proficient at public speaking, to advance their career, as rehabilitation, and/or to improve their skills in English as a second language. Many come determined to get through a program – either the ‘Communication Track’ or ‘Leadership Track’ - as quickly as possible, and “70% leave after,” the give the speeches in a program. Yet, others will stay, even after achieving their primary goal, to enjoy the community, the challenge of the projects and the confidence membership inspires.
To find out more about Toastmasters, come to the Fall open house, and the humorous speech contest, at the Fremont Toastmasters on September 8th at 7:30a at Fremont Baptist. Find out how to build public speaking skills, find fellowship and get a laugh or two. Those interested in joining (membership requires a six-month fee of $39, plus $20 for start-up books) can contact Collinsworth by e-mail or, as she recommended, “just show up!”
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©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.