Toastmasters builds communication skills

Among the numerous clubs scattered throughout the Sky Valley in which members seek to give back to the community through volunteerism and other outreach, Toastmasters is unique. Rather than focusing on a specific charitable cause, members of Toastmasters seek to give back to themselves.
Through its structured speech-giving platform, Toastmasters members are able to enhance their own lives by improving their communication skills, establishing positive relationships and learning to be effective leaders. Designed to enhance and develop both communication and leadership skills, Toastmasters is an international organization with 14,650 clubs in 126 different countries around the globe.
Through its mission of providing a supportive and positive environment to its members, Toastmasters strives to instill four core values; integrity, respect, service and excellence.
Chartered in 2005, the Monroe Vocal Project Toastmasters Club meets at 6 p.m. every Thursday at Alfy's Pizza (19121 S.R. 2) in Monroe. Meetings are organized based on a pre-established agenda, which includes the business meeting, featured speeches, time for members to provide written feedback and formalized speech evaluations. Different club members assume different roles, including time keeper, the grammarian and the "ah-counter.GÇ¥
The "ah-counterGÇ¥ is in charge of listening to all scheduled speakers, evaluating their use of filler words like "so,GÇ¥ "um,GÇ¥ and "like.GÇ¥ If the "ah-counterGÇ¥ observes any of the speakers using a word or sound as a crutch, they present their findings during the end-of-meeting reports.
The grammarian is tasked with introducing a "word of the dayGÇ¥ at the start of each meeting. The word is presented along with its definition, and Toastmasters are then challenged with correctly incorporating that word into their speeches. In addition to helping to improve the vocabulary of the entire group, the grammarian's role also allows Toastmasters to hone their critical listening skills, as they listen for others to incorporate the word into their speeches.
Last week's presentations in Monroe including topics like "how to talk to dogs,GÇ¥ and "how to make the perfect breakfast omeletGÇ¥ and "summer projects.GÇ¥ The word of the day was "efficacious,GÇ¥ which several speakers successfully managed to include in their presentations. Oftentimes, speakers employed different tactics like humor and props to make their presentations more engaging.
Membership in Toastmasters is available to anyone. Membership dues are nominal, and include manuals and other program materials meant to guide members on their Toastmasters journey. Typically, a new member will select either the communication track or the leadership track, depending on what area they want to focus on.
Toastmasters wanting to pursue a communication track start off with the Competent Communication manual, which provides 10 separate speech projects meant to target different speaking skills. Once a Toastmaster has completed all the projects, they are eligible to receive the Competent Communicator award, which is a distinguished accomplishment that includes a certificate from Toastmasters International.
A member wanting to pursue the leadership track would start off with the Competent Leadership manual, which provides 10 projects meant to enhance a person's leadership abilities. Once a Toastmaster has completed all 10 leadership projects, they are eligible to receive a Competent Leadership award.
"You become a different type of leader,GÇ¥ said Club President Eden Hopkins. "A better leader.GÇ¥
For more information about the Monroe Vocal Project Toastmasters Club, click here.-áFor more information on Toastmasters, click here.


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