Leadership and speaking club can help SOU students overcome fear of public speaking

Do you know what’s scarier than spiders, heights, flying, and darkness?

Public speaking, at least for many people.

Luckily, Daniel Flood can help with that.

Governor of the University Toastmasters, the local branch of Toastmasters International, Flood helps people overcome their fear of public speaking and become leaders in their local community.

“This is a place where people can go to not only become stronger leaders, but also to have a place where people support them in the process,” said Flood.

According to their website, Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.

Toastmasters started in 1924 as a place where young professionals could learn how to better communicate in public meetings, sales and politics. It has since grown to over 13,500 clubs across 116 countries. The founder named it Toastmasters because he felt it suggested a “positive and social atmosphere.”

Toastmaster’s offers two different tracks for its members, one that focuses on leadership abilities while the other focuses on mastering the art of communication.

Completing one of the tracks requires the member to progress through projects in a manual that typically take up to a year to complete.

The projects in each manual help develop different areas of your public speaking skills. These skills include presentation organization, body language, vocal variety and persuasion, to name a few.

The leadership track focuses on leading meetings, teams, mentoring and running events. Strong speakers not only can represent their own messages well but are looked upon to represent others, as the person who can speak well usually gets nominated to represent a group.

The skills Toastmasters teaches have been well-commended by members, Flood said, and some have even said their horrible fear of public speaking is now gone.

“Eventually the club members become comfortable within the club setting, then they are encouraged to go outside the club at some point and put their new skills to good use,” said Flood.

The local Toastmaster’s club, University Toastmasters, meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the  Gresham Room of the Ashland Public Library. New arrivals are asked to show up 10 minutes early.

The meeting is open to the public and welcomes visitors. Participation is not required but visitors may participate during the section of the meeting devoted to Table Topics. Table Topics is where you are asked to speak extemporaneously for up to 2 minutes on a subject that is provided for you.

Toastmasters costs $36 dollars for 6 months, plus a one-time membership fee of $20 for project manuals and processing, a bargain compared to other speaking courses, Flood said.

For additional information contact Dave Brennan at 541-324-8694 or visit the club’s website at www.universitytm.org.

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