Toastmaster’s club helps students’ overcome public speaking fears

A place to face fears, the California Lutheran University Toastmasters club meets every Tuesday to practice their public speaking and leadership skills.
“To be a good speaker you have to have leadership skills and to be a good leader you have to know how to speak. They go hand in hand,” Liz Brenner, president of Toastmasters club, said.
“Public speaking isn’t just about presentations, it’s about talking on the phone, talking to angry customers, marketing. It’s about having the confidence that this provides,” Brenner said.
“The club brings business professionals, community members and students alike to participate and practice their skillset,” Brenner said.
“Everyone has their own goals when joining. We find that some people love practicing public speaking and others like to practice the skills of leading a meeting,” Catherine Svitek, vice president of membership, said.
“There is no pressure at all to do anything you are uncomfortable with,” Jenna Garcia a freshman undergraduate student said.
“A typical meeting includes various segments where members practice different skillsets, including different roles as well as both impromptu and planned speaking exercises,” Brenner said.
“Roles include “a timer, an “Ah” counter, who counts the number of filler words in a speech and the toastmaster who leads the meeting. It is rotated every week so that the members have different leadership roles each week,” Brenner said.
“[It’s] a workshop atmosphere where members can practice presentations and learn leadership skills, such as leading meetings, that may help them advance in their career and personal lives,” Sharon Nelson, vice president of education, said in an email interview.
“Impromptu speaking includes Table Topics where members have a more freeform discussion and talk about topics or issues that can vary from national and international news to general entertainment,” Brenner said.
According to Brenner, speaking manuals are when two members read a speech from the manual and are evaluated by two other members who o er encouragement and constructive criticism.
“Every time I learn something new, I can practice it in the next meeting. You can never stop improving,” Garcia said.
“A general evaluator then assesses the meeting at large and members vote on their favorite speaker, evaluator and table topics speaker,” Brenner said. “It’s a safe place to do the thing most people are terrified to do. It’s a very supportive environment.”
The club also welcomes Cal Lutheran students to attend meetings as guests or members to get the same experience.
Professor Loredana Carson, who teaches International MBA students, encourages her students to participate in the Toastmasters club.
“One of the hardest things for students is giving presentations. Toastmasters helps me verify that what I say is true…that presentations are important. It really helps them to get proficiency and experience,” Carson said.
The Toastmasters meet every Tuesday from 12-1 p.m. in the KCLU conference room.
“Students, faculty and community members are encouraged by the club to attend a meeting and see what it’s all about,” Brenner said. “ ere is no charge to attend as a guest and you can come several times.”

Rebecca Austin
Staff Writer
Published March 16th, 2016