Toastmasters helps conquer fear of public speaking

3 Feb 2006 | Lance Cpl. Regina N. Ortiz

“We make the butterflies fly in formation,” said Debbie Bullen, president, Toastmasters Club 2793.

The butterflies in your stomach, she explained.

One of the most common fears among the average person is public speaking. The Toastmasters Club’s mission is to create a supportive and positive learning environment, in which every member receives the opportunity to develop the confidence and skills needed to overcome their fear, said Bullen.

The Toastmasters Club 2793 held a meeting at the Combat Center’s Village Center Feb. 3, welcoming interested community members to attend and learn communication and leadership skills associated with public speaking.

The club meets the first and fourth Wednesday of every month in a semi-formal procedure, practicing basic presentation and speaking skills throughout the 30- to 45-minute gathering.

There are key roles played by the members at each meeting, who are introduced by Bullen at the beginning of each meeting.

Bullen holds the role of general evaluator of speeches, being the most experienced in public speaking and the Toastmasters Club.

Perry Ford, an education and prevention specialist, Marine Corps Community Services, kept time by using a stopwatch and a lighting device to signal speakers how much time they had left to deliver their speech.

Ford was also the table topics master and word master, who picked the word of the day and the topics that must be the focus of the one- to two-minute impromptu speeches.
Grammarian and ‘ah’ counter, Cliff Kuhnly, civil service worker at the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, dinged a bell and kept count of every time a speaker said ‘ah,’ ‘um,’ ‘uh,’ or took a long pause between words, which is reported at the end of meetings.

After the roles of each club member were described Bullen introduced the two speakers of the day, Kuhnly and Randy Meyer, senior management analyst, MCCS finance office.

Kuhnly and Meyer had five to seven minutes to deliver their speeches. The time length varies on how many speeches the members have given and the type of speech the members chose to write.

Once each speech was over, the audience wrote constructive criticisms and gave them to each speaker.

When both speakers were finished, the audience voted for the best speaker, who was recognized at the end of the meeting in a brief award ceremony.

Next, all members and guests gave impromptu speeches. The word of the day was ‘yearn’ and the topics, written on small pieces of paper, were picked from a fishbowl. The ways of choosing topics varies depending on the creativity of the table topics master.

Following the impromptu speeches, the audience voted for the best speaker in this category.

To close the meeting, Bullen gave each prepared speech evaluations, and then presented awards to the speakers with the best prepared speech and the best impromptu speech.

Then she asked each guest to give their opinion and if they will be attending future meetings. Some guests were recommended to join the club by their college instructors, and some attended to better themselves in their current occupation.

“I feel there is always room for improvement,” said Staff Sgt. Ralph Rosario, instructor at the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School.

The Toastmasters is an international club with more than 200,000 members and 10,000 clubs in 80 countries,according to the official Web site,

The club’s main focus is to give people the communication skills to become successful leaders, said Bullen.

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