Mason Toastmasters Club Helps Members Communicate More Effectively

Posted: January 22, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Almost eight months after its first meeting in May 2008, the Mason Toastmasters Club continues to flourish and attract new members.

Sponsored by the Department of Communication, the club gives faculty, staff and graduate students the opportunity to learn how to master skills such as leading a meeting, thinking on their feet, speaking with confidence and giving constructive feedback.

Michael Crawford, security supervisor for University Police, has been a member of the Toastmasters Club since it first began. He credits the club with helping him develop more confidence and improve his writing skills.

“Toastmasters isn’t just about helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience,” says Crawford. “It’s about making them more aware of their words; and with time limit restrictions on many of our speeches, I find myself focusing on what is important and what I really want to say as opposed to just filling up the time with ‘commercials.'”

After completing only a few of the required 10 speeches for the Toastmasters Club, Crawford entered and placed second at the Area 64 Humorous Speech Contest. Crawford says participating in the contest gave him the opportunity to speak in front of people he didn’t already know.

Karen Jacobs, fiscal coordinator for acquisitions and gifts for Fenwick Library, says she joined Toastmasters because she wanted to be a part of a group of people who had a common goal of improving their public speaking and interaction skills.

She serves as vice president of education for the club. Her responsibilities include setting up the schedule of speakers for each meeting, encouraging new members to take on various roles within the club and working with the club president to monitor club performance.

“Even though I still get nervous when speaking in front of an audience, there are so many other leadership and training opportunities that will help improve a person’s confidence,” says Jacobs.

“As vice president of education for the club, I am given so many chances to get involved and encourage other members to come out of their shells and open up.”

Crawford and Jacobs both agree that everyone in the club works together and is supportive of one another.

Lois Durant, registered dietician in Dining Services, notes that even though everyone is not on the same level, they are still there for the common purpose of becoming better communicators.

Durant, who is sergeant at arms for the club, became a member because of the nervousness and anxiety she felt before giving talks to Mason students about nutrition and making better food choices.

“Toastmasters has helped me overcome the anxiety I feel when giving speeches,” says Durant. “The support and camaraderie of everyone in the club helps me feel more at ease and able to focus on what I want to convey to my audience.”

For more information about Mason Toastmasters or to become a member, visit the web site.

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