February is Toastmasters month

Most of us have had the palm sweating, heart pounding, red faced experience of speaking before an audience.

  • Jan. 30, 2015 4:00 p.m.

Most of us have had the palm sweating, heart pounding, red faced experience of speaking before an audience. Maybe we have been asked to speak at a family function, or to deliver a presentation at our work place, or maybe we just experience discomfort in our daily interaction with people unfamiliar to us. We may feel uncertain at how to introduce new people into a gathering or maybe we fumble when we have to give a heartfelt thank you speech.

We are not always prepared to handle these everyday occurrences with poise and confidence because most of us do not get enough opportunities to practice these skills. A golfer goes to the driving range to practice his swings, but where can we go to practice our speaking skills? A Toastmasters club is the perfect place where one can develop speaking skills in a supportive environment.

Toastmasters International have just celebrated their 90th anniversary. The organization was started by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley to help a group of young men who had problems talking and meeting other people. The organization has since grown to having 14,650 clubs in 126 countries with 313,000 worldwide members.

Saanich Peninsula Toastmasters Club was chartered April 1, 1979 and is a club that has served people of all ages and all walks of life. Many have moved on to reach their career goals and others have just become more comfortable with public appearances.

Whatever your goals are, Toastmasters can help you achieve them.

Our club meets every Tuesday night 7:30 p.m. at the library on Resthaven Drive in Sidney.

One of our members moved to Sidney in the fall of last year. He has been around longer than Toastmasters, but felt that he needed an activity to keep his mind active.

His words carry weight.

“The clubs do have an age restriction of minimum age of 18 and currently the club covers the range from early 20s, middle age retirees and even beyond the three score years and ten. As a member of the latter group, I would recommend joining the group because the fellowship is good — the interaction between the ages is part of the enjoyment.

“The aim of Toastmasters to improve your speaking skills is very worthwhile. Even in later years one is never quite sure when you may be asked to speak, possibly at your granddaughter’s wedding or a graduation toast. In everyday activities good speech is a great help in shopping and so I would suggest that those of mature years join Toastmasters for a very enjoyable and informative evening away from the TV set.”

Visit the club website at: 1288.toastmastersclubs.org for more information.

Gerry J. McQuade is president of Saanich Peninsula Toastmasters

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