Saint John Toastmasters welcomes students looking to improve public speaking skills

If you are a student at UNBSJ, whether past or present, chances are that you’ve experienced it: waking up in a cold sweat with dread; terror curling in the pit of your stomach; staring out at dozens of onlookers and thinking, “What did I do to deserve this?”

Public speaking. I’m talking about public speaking.

It’s probably required in one (or all) of your current courses, likely showing up on your syllabus in the form of a “presentation” or a “seminar”. No matter what the name, it always involves the same thing: getting up in front of a group of people and speaking to them in an organized, and hopefully professional, manner. Unfortunately, it’s also something that a vast majority of students struggle with.

But if so many people struggle with public speaking, why does nobody ever seek out help? It’s likely because most students don’t realize that help with public speaking is attainable in Saint John. The Baron is here to tell you that’s untrue; help has been here since 1954, in the form of Toastmasters.

Toastmasters (named aptly because they help you master the art of toast-giving), established in 1932, is an international organization dedicated to “[empowering] individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.”. With hundreds of clubs worldwide, the resources for students to improve their public speaking are absolutely there, and it’s time that they start taking advantage of them.

Below is a list of five Toastmasters branches in Saint John and its surrounding areas, and they all meet at different times, meaning that there should be at least one that works with your schedule.

 

 

 

 

But how does Toastmasters help participants improve their public speaking? Vice President of Public Relations for the Saint John branch, Heather Tufts, explains:

“Members are trained in delivering formal and informal speeches so that they are prepared for a variety of public speaking situations. [They] also receive training in impromptu public speaking through “table topics”, where participants gain experience in “thinking on their feet” [by answering on-the-spot questions about a variety of subjects]. All of the above is further supported through [semi-professional] mentoring and coaching, to ensure that development milestones are met to complete the Toastmasters training modules.”

While she encourages people of all ages to join Toastmasters as a member, given that only members can receive official training, Tufts also explains Toastmasters has a no-obligation attendance policy.

“It is free to visit and we encourage visitors to come as often as they like until they are ready to join,” she says. “Guests can participate in table topics but speeches are reserved for members, as each speech represents a stage in the [Toastmasters] training modules.”

If students choose to join as a member, there is a fee of $15 per month which can be paid in installments or all at once, as an annual fee of roughly $180. Considering that the average course at UNBSJ costs around $700, $180 per year really isn’t a bad price for improving a skill that you will use for a lifetime.

When asked if she had anything else that she would like to add, Tufts stated that she, “would have loved to have known about Toastmasters when [she] was in university, as [she] was terrified of giving presentations. Looking back, it would have helped [her] tremendously.”

She also added that participating in Toastmasters “not only helps members develop their communication skills, but it also [boosts] their self-confidence.”

So, there you have it! Whether you are looking to improve your presentation skills, enhance your articulation, or increase your self-confidence, Toastmasters is the ultimate vessel for self-betterment. For further information on your nearest Toastmasters branch and/or how to get involved, Tufts encourages students to contact her via email (heather.tufts1@gmail.com) or phone (506-977-2650).