What do James Lovell, Chris Matthews and Leonard Nimoy have in common?
They were all Toastmasters.
The club that hones public speaking and leadership skills isn’t just for those who aspire to be astronauts, talk show hosts, or actors.
Toastmasters is for anyone who would like a leg up in an interview, is pursuing a promotion, needs better communication skills or just wants to get rid of the “ums” and “likes” in general talking.
The area is fortunate to have two local clubs. Simply Speaking in Defiance and Northwest Ohio Toastmasters which meets at Northwest State Community College. Both of these clubs have long-established reputations of building leaders in Northwest Ohio communities.
Both also are celebrating significant anniversaries. Simply Speaking recently recognized 20 years as a club, and Northwest Ohio Toastmasters, which was formerly known as Williams County Toastmasters will be celebrating their 60th anniversary next month.
Current members of the clubs recognize the benefits gained from membership. Robert Boyd of Paulding, a member of Simply Speaking Toastmasters, had a very specific reason for joining Toastmasters. He said, “I teach Taekwondo and frequently speak in front of my students; however, I was running for county commissioner and soon realized that standing in front of voters was completely different than speaking in front of a class. I joined Toastmasters to learn how to better get my point across. Now, I’m more structured, focused, and confident when speaking in public.”
Boyd, who joined Toastmasters in 2011, has since achieved the highest level of recognition possible in Toastmasters, Distinguished Toastmaster and also was named Club Coach of the Year in 2016 for District 28.
Jane Hibbard of Stryker, a member of both Simply Speaking and Northwest Ohio Toastmasters, has also achieved Distinguished Toastmaster recognition. Jane said she likes the challenge that Toastmasters gives you to become a better communicator and leader. “As you go through the program you are rewarded for what you accomplish. Toastmasters gives you a large support group to help you achieve your goals.”
Many people think Toastmasters is just for improving your speaking skills, but a large component of the program is developing leadership skills. Rebecca Lovelass who has been in Northwest Ohio Toastmasters for seven years feels the leadership skills are equally important. The Fayette resident said, “Not only has Toastmasters increased my confidence in speaking in front of others, I feel I now have the skills and willingness to step into leadership roles within Toastmasters as well as other groups to which I belong.” Lovelass currently is the club’s vice-president of education.
Another important piece to Toastmasters is giving feedback to others. Karen Lyke of Whitehouse and currently president of the Northwest Ohio club discussed that area, “Even though I had been a teacher for years, through Toastmasters I learned how to listen more carefully, more critically — with attention to content, organization, and delivery techniques, and to provide honest feedback in a very kind and constructive way. Lyke also added that her world has expanded in hearing others share their experiences through speeches, and she has especially enjoyed the friendships formed through Toastmasters.
An area in which the two local clubs are in as well as clubs in Toledo and Perrysburg will be holding their International Speech and Evaluation contests Saturday, February 25 from 9:30 to noon at the American Legion Annex, 500 Glenwood Avenue, Napoleon.
The contest will be open to the public so everyone attending will have the opportunity to learn more about the communication and leadership skills available through Toastmasters. They will hear local and world-class speakers compete in the contests. For more information about the contest you can call 419-966-3427.
The public is also invited to check out both of the local clubs. Visitors are always welcome.
Simply Speaking Toastmasters meets the second and fourth Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Defiance City Council Room in the Municipal Building, 631 Perry Street, Defiance. Call 419-262-3637 for more information.
Northwest Ohio Toastmasters meets the first and third Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at Northwest State Community College, State Route 34, Archbold. Call 419/237-3091 for more information.