Toastmasters in Jasper


For more information on how to join Jasper’s Toastmasters…email

I found this cartoon in the Toastmasters magazine left behind after our first meeting.  The need to slow down speaking is not my problem.  I am checking out Toastmasters because I am not able to speak to more than a small group of my peers.  After a group becomes larger and mixed with strangers and the setting more formal…well, have you seen the Big Bang Theory on TV?  Rajesh (spelling) is a character on that program that under certain circumstances can only squeak or wave.   Must be a distant relative!  My graduation speech from NAIT a few years back was exactly that – ‘um’ followed by wide eyed terror and silence.

Now that I have something I want everyone to know about (Jasper’s cultural industry) it is inevitable that I could find myself in front of a camera or a crowd at sometime.

What did we do at the meeting?

Well – all curiosities aside – we did not don silly hats or have a secret handshake.  A Toastmaster led the meeting, it does have discipline and format.  In a nutshell:

One person was chosen to keep track of the timing of individual presentations.  These were handed out randomly to get us on our feet, thinking on our feet – about a topic for 2 minutes.

One person was chosen to listen closely to what individuals said and prepare questions to see how well we listened.  Yes – listening is as important as speaking!

One person was chosen to monitor speech filler words like ‘um’ and ‘so’.  It was noted that these are words we use while we think about where we are going next in our speaking…and a pause is a wiser choice than ‘um’.  It was also noted that if you are speaking and you feel that your speech is complete…finish.  Still time on the clock?  When you are done get off the stage!

And before you leave a stage acknowledge the next person to the stage OR the MC with a handshake or some kind of passing of the microphone/floor so the audience sees some fluidity to the event.

(At this point in my first Toastmasters meeting I had noted so MANY things I am guilty of doing incorrectly.  But what does it matter??  I live in a small town where we all say ‘hey hows going’ when we meet!)

Toastmasters offers the same education on public speaking/listening etiquette as the courtesies you find on a golf course – it offers the same eloquence of respect for others as we would hope to have when we have something important to say…it is not unlike knowing when to clap at a theatre and when not to.  Social skills that do matter.

Yes – Toastmasters offers an education in communication that goes beyond the ‘boredroom’…poets who cant get on a stage and recite their poetry are doomed to hear others stumble through the prose.  Instructors who can’t gain the attention of their students because of something as simple as speaking with confidence probably could use Toastmasters.

Our first meeting had town officials, school teachers, community workers…they all had something that they want to perfect in their communications…some stumbling block that these types of meetings will work around.   The Toastmaster brought up butterflies that people get in their stomachs when they know they are going to be presenting in front of others…I likened those butterflies to the mighty Condor in my stomach.  So I didnt take the floor.  Perhaps for these first few months I will work on my skills in listening until those Condors settle down!

Evergreen Toastmaster Janet Russel makes it look so eloquently easy!

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