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Making a toast to public speaking

Photo by Renée Shadforth/Sierra Sun Kim Harris, a member of the Jibboom Street Toastmasters, gives a speech on how to treat new members of the club on Wednesday. Toastmasters is a group that helps its members work on public speaking skills.
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For many people, the very idea of public speaking brings a knot to the throat and sends beads of hot sweat sliding down the spine. But one local club – the Jibboom Street Toastmasters – is out to change that. “Ninety-six percent of peoples’ No. 1 fear is public speaking,” said Toastmaster vice president of education Kim Harris. “This is a supportive atmosphere in which people can get over that fear and improve their skills.”Harris, who has been a Toastmaster member since 1997, said effective speaking skills have been beneficial to a number of her career positions, and have helped her to relate to her clients and become a better listener.”People might feel like they are going to be picked apart with they walk through the door,” said Earleen Norris. “But once they see an evaluation, they see an inviting atmosphere. This is also a great place to practice a speech that you will be giving to someone else.”Toastmasters International, a world-wide organization focused on effective communication and public speaking, was formed as a men’s group in 1924. There are now more than 10,500 clubs in 90 countries where members learn communication skills through the preparation and presentation of speeches, constructive evaluations, and educational materials.Truckee’s own Toastmasters branch was formed in 1987 and currently has 15 participants, though members say they would like to grow the organization to at least 20. Besides weekly meetings in which members hone their speech writing and organization skills, and perfect body language, voice variations, and other elements of speech development, some members also choose to compete in speech competitions that begin locally and grow to include regional, state, national and international levels. “It’s a wonderful experience because it gives you a lot of confidence. Even if you are falling flat on your face, everybody is rooting for you, and it’s a very supportive group,” said general evaluator Lydia Sparksworthy.

For more information contact president Sarah Green at 550-0819.Check it outJibboom St. ToastmastersWhen: Wed., 7:30 to 8:30Where: Truckee Tahoe Airport boardroomCost: $45 for six months10 Toastmaster Tips for Public Speaking

1. Know your material: Know more about your topic than you include in your speech. Use personal stories and conversational language2. Practice: Rehearse out loud, preferably with an audience, and with all the materials you will be using.3. Know your audience: Greet some audience members as they arrive – it’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.4. Know the room: Arrive early to walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and equipment.5. Relax: Ease tension by doing exercises, and transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.



6. Visualize yourself giving your speech: Imagine yourself speaking clearly and confidently with a loud voice. For a confidence boost, visualize your audience clapping.7. Realize that people want you to succeed: Audiences want to be interesting, stimulating, informative, and entertaining. They don’t want you to fail.8. Don’t apologize: You might be nervous, there might be a problem, but your audience probably won’t notice, so don’t draw additional attention to the matter.9. Concentrate on the message, not the medium: Focus your attention away from your own anxieties, and concentrate on your message and your audience.10. Gain experience: It’s the key to effective speaking.


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