For most college students, especially those pursuing communications or marketing degrees, there are always a large number of presentations required, and a time limit. But there is usually very little opportunity within a class structure to get practice and feedback regarding improving our skills.
Whatever your career path, speaking not only well, but charismatically, is a cornerstone of becoming a respected leader. Fortunately, Chapman University has its own Toastmasters group to help make speaking with ease and confidence not only possible but enjoyable. Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development with more than 15,000 clubs in 135 cities. Its world headquarters is in Orange County, California.
The CU Toastmasters Club currently meets Wednesdays at 7:55 p.m. in Beckman Hall 214, above Starbucks.
“We at CU Toastmasters take the ‘scariness’ out of public speaking so each member is better able to refine their individual skill sets,” says current Toastmasters Club President Kristina Lamb. “The setting is always inviting and never negative. Everyone there is present to support each other and there with the same mission of self-improvement.”
What to Expect at a Meeting
Founded by Chapman alumnus Matthew Martinez in Spring 2015, the Toastmasters Club has quickly grown to more than 70 student members. The meeting starts with “Hugs and Shakes,” and because everyone in the club is moving through a series of speaking assignments as created by Toastmasters International, there are always two to three speeches to start the meeting.
Each speaker is timed and assigned an evaluator, who will stand and give a brief and encouraging assessment of the strengths of the speech as well as areas for growth.
Feedback is always constructive. The process and practice of learning to give useful feedback well is another skill learned through Toastmasters which will serve future managers well.
The Toastmasters members vote on both best speakers and evaluators for the day. Then the floor is open for a fun activity called Table Topics.Table Topics is a long-standing Toastmasters tradition intended to help members develop their ability to organize their thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic. The Topic Master will give everyone a topic, and a few minutes to prepare. Then he or she will call a few people at random to stand at their chairs and speak for 1-2 minutes on that topic. This exercise hones one’s ability to think quickly and talk extemporaneously.
Toastmasters also offers an opportunity for leadership with several board roles designed to keep the club operating efficiently and effectively. Because Toastmasters is an international organization with clubs in nearly every city, mostly populated by business people, it is also a wonderful networking opportunity and is well-regarded on a resume.
For more information about Toastmasters at Chapman University or to join, please contact Dr. Michelle Miller-Day, who is the Chapter advisor, or look for the next meeting.