Summit County: Toastmasters competition
September 18, 2010
Summit Toastmasters are serious about improving their communication skills, but they entertain themselves throughout the process. Tuesday, contestants will compete in a humorous speech contest, “so that we could have some fun while expanding our speaking skills,” said Yvonne Bryant, president of the organization.
“Speaking in front of people you don’t know is a lot more challenging than just speaking to your fellows,” Bryant said. “It is similar to that big interview or that big sales pitch. You are saying ‘Pick Me!’ to judges that you may not know. The contest lets you practice your storytelling and persuasion skills in an environment that is still supportive, if a little more challenging than a typical meeting. It also is a fun way for the community to get to know us and get involved with the group.”
Two winners will advance to the Toastmasters Area Contest in Golden on Sept. 30. A series of competitions eventually ends on an international level.
The competition not only helps the speakers, but also enables members who organize it to practice their event planning and project and team-management skills.
Alan Swartz started Summit Toastmasters, which currently has 14 members, in 1988. Members join with different levels of speaking and leadership abilities, as well as different goals. Pat Moore, the vice president of education, works with members to identify goals, then pairs them with mentors, who help develop speeches by working through the Competent Communication manual. Members also take on leadership roles.
At any given meeting, up to three speakers present speeches up to 10 minutes in length. Then members evaluate speeches on the objectives participants set out to achieve. While the Toastmasters workbook focuses on a variety of specific skills, topics can include anything that interests the speaker.
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“Toastmasters is a safe and supportive place to improve public speaking skills,” said Amy Nakos, owner and broker of Landmark Real Estate Group. “We all support each other’s efforts to improve. It’s also a nice social interaction because you get to meet people from the county that you may not otherwise meet.”
“It is amazing to watch the transformation as members grow in confidence, speaking ability, and leadership ability,” Bryant said.