“When a person understands who they are — and they understand their own potential — they can create their own destiny,” says Roy van der Mull, the vice president of education for MasterMind Toastmasters in Carleton Place. “Communication is everything.”
MasterMind Toastmasters is a new chapter of Toastmasters International, a membership based organization that teaches communication and leadership skills. MasterMind Toastmasters, located at Riverview Seniors Residence at 204 Lake Avenue West, will start its bi-monthly meetings this September.
“I think this is a wonderful thing for Carleton Place because this is a town of entrepreneurs and business people,” explains Jennifer Hoy, the public relations manager for MasterMind Toastmasters. “[Toastmasters] improves professional abilities in a fun environment. It’s not like going to school, it really doesn’t have a seminar feel to it.”
Toastmasters is designed to help members develop and improve oral communication and leadership skills through thoughtfully planned programs with particular objectives.
For example, the first project is called The Ice Breaker. The toastmaster working on the assignment presents their speech to the club and then receives feedback from peers.
“Everybody participates in the meetings,” says Hoy, adding that about eight people attend any given meeting on average. “There are different roles and each role gets to speak, since of course, effective speaking comes from practicing.”
Some of the roles include the host, also referred to as the toastmaster, the grammarian who checks grammar, evaluators and more.
The club teaches a variety of skills, like encouraging people to embrace the natural momentary silences that come up in speech instead of filling them with crutch words like ‘um’. “We see people move from anxiety moments of silence to purposeful moments of silence,” Hoy says. “They learn to control their fear and their thoughts in order to compose sentences that make sense.”
Everyone is welcome to join Toastmasters regardless of their skills. This means members do not have to work on the same project at the same time. “There are many different levels at one meeting but we still support each other,” says Hoy. “It’s totally accessible for everyone.”
Members are also taught how to give useful, positive feedback, which van der Mull and Hoy say is an important skill in all aspects of life, whether it’s parenting, with a colleague or with a boss.
The programs become more advanced as the Toastmaster progresses, with some specializing in storytelling or public speaking.
Toastmasters also learn how to communicate calmly and confidently through their body language, with time constraints and when they are called upon unexpectedly. “It really is what can take you from pushing the mail cart at your job to signing the company checks,” says Hoy.
“My passion is to help people reach their goals, both professionally and personally,” says van der Mull, who is a retired business coach. “We want people to know that we’re here.”
MasterMind Toastmasters is part of Toastmasters International District 61 which has been serving toastmasters between Kingston and Rimouski, Quebec in both official languages since 1958.
The club will meet every second and fourth Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. starting in September. Visit www.mastermindtoasters.com to check out memberships and other benefits.
This article was first published in the August issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our August issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer or read our digital version.