Toastmasters Helps Speakers Break The Ice


There is a day for everything under the sun, or so it seems. For instance, today, Jan. 27, is National Speak Up and Succeed Day.

In the Rim country is a group of people willing to help their neighbors gain skill and experience in public speaking -- the members of the Pine Country Toastmasters.


Verna Orr (left) received "Ice Breaker" gum to commemorate her first Ice Breaker speech at the Pine Country Toastmasters from President Marie Fritz. The Ice Breaker speech lets new members start their public speaking with the subject they know best -- themselves.

"We meet every Monday, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at First American Title," Stan Langham, one of the club's members, said.

There are currently about 17 active members and anyone interested in seeing what the club is about is invited to attend any meeting. If membership is something they find they are interested in, there are no restrictions on joining.

"We're cheap too," Langham said. The club dues are $25 every six months, with a one-time national membership package fee of $25.

The Pine Country Toastmasters first organized in the Rim country in May 1987. The national organization started in 1924 in Santa Ana, Calif. There are chapters of the group throughout the world, about 15,000 of them, Langham said.

The first goal of new members is to achieve a "Competent Speaker" rating," he said.

"There are 10 speeches in the manual they must do and the club recommends doing one a month."

However, there is no set deadline for doing the 10 speeches.

"It's harder for some than others," Langham said.

One of those for whom public speaking was especially difficult is the club's president, Marie Fritz of Pine.

"It's given me a lot more confidence in myself," Fritz said. "I used to be petrified of speaking in public. I even thought I might have a heart attack. But I always wanted to speak in front of people. I thought I would grow out of it, but I never did. I'd even be shy in front of my friends."

For Fritz, Toastmasters changed all of that.

"It's a very powerful organization," she said. "The more you do something, the easier it gets. Now I can speak with confidence and poise. It's not what you say, but how you say it. You learn eloquence. Sometimes, I would be overbearing because I was so shy about speaking up."

The learning process comes more from the evaluations other club members give the speakers than from the actual speech, Langham said.

"Immediately after the speech, the speaker will get an oral evaluation and then, from each of the members, written evaluations," Langham said. "That's where the improvement comes from. And after you get to know people, it's not a frightening environment."

Langham said on average, the group entertains a guest at every other meeting. On a quarterly basis, the Toastmasters invite an outside speaker to make a presentation. At the Jan. 26 meeting, Dr. Drew Justice spoke to the group.

"The idea behind that (outside speakers) is to show there's not a set formula for speaking," Langham said. "Your personal style is what's most important."

Justice said he does a lot of public speaking, so doing a talk in front of a group of semi-professional speakers did not make him change his presentation.

"It's a very energetic group and they give a lot of constructive feedback," Justice said. "I think anyone in a business situation would benefit from being part of that group. It keeps you sharp and teaches you to think on your feet. And it's good for self-improvement."

For more information about Toastmasters, call Fritz at (928) 476-5990.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.