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Toastmasters gives members confidence in public speaking

Nancy Oliver Hayden
Tahoe Toastmasters President Robert Rumble opens the meeting and welcomes guests at the South Lake Tahoe Branch Library.
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For most people, public speaking is not their favorite pastime. In fact, the majority claim they would rather have a root canal or wrestle an alligator.

People pay thousands of dollars for seminars to gain the skill and confidence necessary to face an audience, but there is another option that is less expensive as well as an enjoyable experience: Toastmasters International. The organization has been around 80 years and offers a proven way to practice and hone the communication and leadership skills of its members.

I recently attended a meeting of Tahoe Toastmasters and it was so interesting, the hour was over before I realized it. Everyone participated and had a great time, while increasing their public speaking skills. Although there have been Toastmasters clubs at Tahoe in the past, the current Tahoe Toastmasters was chartered June 25, 2004. The group meets from 7 to 8 p.m. every Monday in the meeting room at the South Lake Tahoe Branch Library, 1000 Rufus Allen Blvd. The officers of the club are Robert Rumble, president and secretary; Frank Dixon, vice president, education; Becky Andrus, vice president, membership; Brian Des Rochers, vice president, public relations; Jim Wire, treasurer; and Jeremy Rumble, Webmaster.

“When I first started college, I dropped several classes the first year because I had to give a presentation in front of the class,” said Robert Rumble. “It was recommended that I look into Toastmasters. They encouraged me to participate, and eventually I gave my first speech. Through their encouragement I learned to conquer my fear and develop an overall confidence that has transcended into all areas of my life. Toastmasters has given me the confidence and skills necessary to succeed with my endeavors, including being a motivational speaker.”

Upon joining a Toastmasters club, members progress through a series of 10 speaking assignments designed to instill a basic foundation in public speaking. The first speech required of a new member is the “ice breaker,” in which the speaker introduces himself or herself to the club. When finished with the first speech manual, members can select from among 15 advanced manuals to develop speaking skills geared to specific interests.

“Toastmasters has helped me learn to correct many of the idiosyncrasies I didn’t know I had in my speech. The program has helped me communicate better with my business clients with more confidence and articulacy, better organize and conduct a presentation, and become a more efficient listener. I would recommend Toastmasters to anyone looking to improve their communication and leadership skills,” Des Rochers said.

Andrus, who almost didn’t go back after her first meeting, said, “Thanks to the past year and a half of participation with the Tahoe Toastmasters I was able to move from having to read word for word the eulogy I gave for my father’s funeral some 15 years ago to a fully spontaneous eulogy for my Uncle Bill in Melbourne Beach, Fla., a few weeks ago. I only needed a brief outline this time and spoke entirely extemporaneously. This was a huge stride for me.

“I would never have been able to accomplish such an off-the-cuff talk like that without my participation with Tahoe Toastmasters. I have found Toastmasters excellent practice and I cannot recommend it enough.”

There is no instructor in a Toastmasters club. Instead, members evaluate one another’s oral presentations. The evaluation process is an integral component of the overall educational program. Besides taking turns delivering prepared speeches and evaluating those of other members, Toastmasters give impromptu talks on assigned topics. They also develop listening skills, conduct meetings, serve as officers in various leadership roles and learn parliamentary procedure.

Tahoe Toastmasters is fortunate to have a mentor in Dixon, who has been involved with Toastmasters for more than 10 years. He has completed the Competent Toastmasters program, was an area governor for District 57 (Bay Area) and has held most officer positions during his involvement with Toastmasters.

“The communication program allows me to practice my communication skills and improve my ability to convey my views in an entertaining and informative style. My role as vice president of education for the club helps ensure all members get the most out of the vast array of educational materials and encourages full participation in the weekly meetings,” Dixon said.

For more information about Tahoe Toastmasters, attend a Monday meeting, call Robert Rumble at (530) 541-4273, or e-mail him at robert@psinvestments.biz.


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