Elizabeth Kaiser graphic
The Southwest Area Toastmasters (Club #3982114) met in the Computer Conference Room in the Markee Pioneer Student Center. This club is a branch of Toastmasters International, a world leader in communication and leadership development. The organization has more than 357,000 members. Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 16,600 clubs in 143 countries that make up the global network of meeting locations.
The mission of Toastmasters International is to provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.
The general progression of a normal meeting begins with the club president, who calls the meeting to order, welcomes guests and introduces the toastmaster for the meeting. Then, the toastmaster introduces the theme of the meeting – for this particular meeting the theme was World Philosophy Day – speakers and evaluators presided over the remainder of the meeting. The grammarian introduces the word of the day, which was philosophy, and then the first speaker is called up to give their prewritten speech. The floor is then opened up for all members to practice their impromptu speaking skills on the Table Topic of the meeting.
“Sometimes you’ve got to think on your feet; the Table Topics help our members feel more comfortable being spontaneous,” club president Christine M. Buswell said.
The general evaluator conducts an evaluation portion of the meeting and introduces the evaluation team, which consists of the speech evaluators, the timer and the grammarian. The grammarian points out how many times the speakers made grammatical errors and used “ahs” and “ums” within their speeches. The timer reports on the length of each speech and if they filled the time requirements. The toastmaster then concludes the meeting and returns control to the president, who conducts club business, confirms the agenda for the next meeting and adjourns the meeting.
“Everyone is here to improve,” club member Valerie Wachuta said.
The club makes a conscious effort to be supportive. When a new speaker comes up to the podium, the old speaker always shakes their hand and thanks them for coming up. The evaluations consist of positive feedback and constructive criticism and everyone claps after each speaker. The club meets on the first and third Thursdays of every month from approximately 12:05 to 12:55 p.m. in the Computer Conference Room of the Markee Pioneer Student Center. They are open to all faculty, staff, and students.