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Speak in public, or die trying

Dan Langshaw

Most people would rather die than give a speech, according to a survey reported in The Book of Lists.

Fear of public speaking outranked the fear of death by a two-to-one margin! Unrealistic as this may seem, the fact remains that while many people lack the training and stamina to effectively deliver a clear thought, today’s fast paced, technological world is in desperate need of good communicators and leaders.

The person with strong communication skills has a clear advantage over tongue-tied colleagues – especially in a competitive job market.

How can you overcome your fear of speaking or better communicate in our fast paced, technological world, obtain the advantage during an interview or complete that impressive presentation? Why not learn to become a better communicator by becoming a “Toastmaster”? What is a Toastmaster? Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization, who has been providing valuable public speaking advise to it’s members for more than 75 years, helping those involved over-come their fears of public speaking.

A bit of history: Beginning with one club started at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, Toastmasters has now grown to be the world’s largest organization devoted to developing people’s public and interpersonal communication skills.

Organized by Dr.

Ralph Smedley in October 1924, nearly four million men and women have enjoyed the benefits by being members of Toastmasters.

Currently Toastmaster has approximately 175,000 members in the 8,800 clubs currently active in nearly 70 countries.

How it works: Toastmasters is a “learn-by-doing” workshop in which men and women hone their skills in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere.

The typical club has between 20 & 40 members who gather either weekly or biweekly for about an hour to practice their public speaking techniques.

Unlike speech classes with instructor, fellow club member evaluate one another’s oral presentations with attuned listening skills and constructive criticisms to better each speaker’s abilities to effectively communicate their thoughts.

If you would like to be an observer at a club meeting (or two) just to see if it is something you could use to gain that competitive edge in business, Sierra Sunrise Toastmasters would love to have you as a guest at one of our Thursday morning meetings.

You can find us at Gold ‘n’ Silver Restaurant at 4th and Vine Street (across from the Gold Dust West Casino.) The meetings begin promptly at 7 a.m., and include optional breakfast service, and end at 8:30 a.m.

Usually three prepared speeches and evaluations are given, with a period of impromptu talks, usually related to current events.

This segment of the meeting, described as “Table Topics,” helps prepare you for small talk at meetings or social gatherings.

Many companies encourage their employees to join Toastmasters and some employers will even sponsor inhouse clubs.

Should your schedule not permit you to make one of our meetings, there are several other clubs in the Reno/Sparks area with schedules that may better suit your own schedule, whether it be morning, afternoons or evening meetings.

For more information on other clubs near you, you can call 1-800-9WE-SPEAK or visit Toastmasters at Toastmaster.org.

Dan Langshaw is a Toastmaster member; he works at Reno Paint Mart.