Toastmasters Club Helps Members Talk the Talk
By Mika Ono
How would you feel if you were asked to give a speech in front of 100 people? Panic-stricken? Self-conscious? Just a little nervous?
Scripps Outstanding Speakers Toastmasters Club helps individuals develop a successful public speaking styleregardless of how they feel about speaking in front of a group.
We are supportive of everyone who comes, says Molecular and Experimental Medicine Administrative Assistant Valerie Moreau, president of the club. "The idea is to try your best. Others in the group offer encouragement and feedback on how to improve."
Participants gain experience giving prepared speeches, running meetings, and speaking extemporaneously (without preparation). To this end, members take turns filling various roles in each meeting. These include toastmaster (who runs the meeting), speaker, speech evaluator, timer of the speeches, grammarian (who presents the "word of the day"), table topics master (who prepares topics for extemporaneous speaking), "uh/ah" counter, and meeting evaluator.
Participants advance at their own pace, working their way through 10 speeches to develop skills in such areas as organizing material, gesturing, vocal variety, vocabulary, and ability to persuade and inspire. Advanced topics are available for "graduates" of the basic program.
The Scripps Outstanding Speakers group was officially chartered by Toastmasters International in the fall of 1999, when its 20th member joined. The group is diverse and includes faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and staff. Many speak English as a second language.
What keeps members coming back?
"Toastmasters has really helped my public speaking and my ability to think on my feet," says Kathryn Spencer, scientific associate in the Cheresh lab. "I can now get past my nervousness and focus on what I want to say."
"Toastmasters offers a chance to improve my public speaking," says Michael Nguyen, systems administrator. "But its also fun! I learn about current events, improve my knowledge of different cultures, and make new friends. I also enjoy the international mix. We have people from around the worldEngland, France, India, Japan, China... I myself come from Vietnam. The group shows the real meaning of melting pot."
"By attending Toastmasters, I have fun and improve my scientific presentations at the same time," says Astrid Visser, research associate in Cell Biology.
The Toastmasters club meets from 1 to 2 PM, usually on the first three Mondays of each month, in the Ellen Browning Scripps Conference Room, the fourth floor of the Beckman Building. New members are welcome.