Jumat, 31 Agustus 2007

Toastmasters: Public Speaking Skills Aren’t Debatable

Press Release
Toastmasters: Public Speaking Skills Aren’t Debatable

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, CA – If you are like most people, public speaking is not your favorite pastime. Yet survey after survey shows that presentation skills are crucial to success in the work place. The person with strong communication skills has a clear advantage over tongue-tied colleagues – especially in a competitive job market. Many people pay thousands of dollars for seminars to gain the skill and confidence necessary to face an audience. But there’s another option that is less expensive and held in high regard in business circles – Toastmasters International. This organization has been around for nearly 80 years and offers a proven – and enjoyable! – way to practice and hone the communication and leadership skills of its members.

From one club started in 1924 at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, Toastmasters has grown to become the world’s leading organization helping people conquer their pre-speech jitters. Since that first club was organized by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, nearly four million men and women have enjoyed the benefits of Toastmasters membership. The nonprofit organization now has approximately 211,000 members in 10,500 clubs in 90 countries.

How Does it Work?
A Toastmasters club is a “learn-by-doing” workshop in which men and women hone their skills in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. A typical club has 20 to 40 members who meet weekly or biweekly to learn and practice public speaking techniques. The average club meeting lasts approximately one hour. Membership is affordable; total annual fees are usually less than $100 (U.S.).

Those joining a Toastmasters club learn communication skills by working in the Communication Program manual, a series of 10 speaking assignments designed to instill a basic foundation in public speaking.

When finished with the first speech manual, members can select from among 15 advanced manuals to develop speaking skills that are geared to specific interests. They are: Public Relations, Specialty Speeches, The Entertaining Speaker, Speaking to Inform, The Discussion Leader, Speeches by Management, The Professional Speaker, Persuasive Speaking, Technical Presentations, Communicating on Television, Storytelling, Interpretive Reading, Interpersonal Communication, Special Occasion Speeches and Humorously Speaking. Members also develop and practice leadership skills by working in the Competent Leadership manual, the High Performance Leadership Program as well as serving as leaders at various organizational levels.

There is no instructor in a Toastmasters club. Instead, members evaluate one another’s oral presentations and leadersip skills. This evaluation process is an integral component of the overall educational program. Toastmasters members also give impromptu talks on assigned topics, conduct meetings, serve as officers in various leadership roles and learn parliamentary procedure.

The effectiveness of this simple learning formula is evidenced by the thousands of corporations that sponsor in-house Toastmasters clubs. These clubs serve as public-speaking and leadership training workshops for employees. Every year, more and more business and government organizations are discovering that Toastmasters is the most effective, cost-efficient means of satisfying their communication training needs. Toastmasters clubs can be found in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as in a variety of community organizations, prisons, universities, hospitals, military bases and churches.

Community Service
Toastmasters also benefit their communities by conducting the following types of programs:

YOUTH LEADERSHIP – public speaking training for junior and high school students.
SPEECHCRAFT – a “short course” in public speaking for adults in business, education, industry and government.
SPEAKERS BUREAU – to help other nonprofit organizations and community and government groups tell their stories to the community.
GAVEL CLUBS – bringing Toastmasters training to prisons and other institutions.
SUCCESS/LEADERSHIP and SUCCESS/COMMUNICATION PROGRAMS – educational modules in a how-to format on topics such as conducting productive meetings, effective listening, parliamentary procedure, evaluation, creative thinking, leadership, management and training.

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