Toastmasters Helps Break Down Barriers of Public Speaking

Article excerpt

Byline: Kim Conte Daily Herald Correspondent

Today's fast-paced professional world demands that people have excellent communication skills.

At a time when clients and employers expect effective public speaking, nervousness and mumbling make a poor impression.

The members of Palatine Toastmasters meet every other week to improve their public speaking and evaluate each other's speaking skills. And, they have fun doing it.

"The great thing about our club is that I am constantly learning new speaking tips from each and every member every time they speak," said Glen Anderson of Palatine, president of the club. "I work in business, and my speaking skills have become so much more fine-tuned ever since I joined the club."

Palatine Toastmasters, which began 30 years ago, is part of an international organization created to help people communicate better and listen more attentively. Four or five speakers give humorous talks at each meeting, and the speakers are then evaluated by their peers.

The club, made up of more than 30 members, focuses on improving the strengths of both the speakers and the evaluators.

The Palatine chapter participated in an area contest Oct. 4 with other chapters including Crystal Lake, Arlington Heights, Baxter Corporation and Buffalo Grove. Cindy Dingwall, the representative for the Palatine chapter, won first place in the Humorous Speech contest for her talk entitled "One is Enough," detailing her life as an only child.

"Toastmasters is phenomenal because it teaches you how to speak on your feet," said Dingwall, who is vice president of public relations for the club. "It's amazing to see how people build self-confidence and improve their speaking skills. I have felt tremendous improvement with my own speaking."

Dingwall, who has been with the club for a year, said she has completed the requirements to become a Competent Toastmaster (CTM) - 10 speeches each focusing on improving a specific speech element - and is now working to earn her Advanced Toastmaster (ATM). …