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The art of communication

Toastmasters club improves public speaking

Dave Morals was president of Toast Masters for two years before stepping down this year to be their vice president of public relations and be on the SAITSA board. This photo was taken on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 at The Odyssey at SAIT in Calgary, Alberta.  (Photo by Victoria Cockriell/The Press)

Dave Morals was president of Toast Masters for two years before stepping down this year to be their vice president of public relations and be on the SAITSA board. This photo was taken on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 at The Odyssey at SAIT in Calgary, Alberta.
(Photo by Victoria Cockriell/The Press)

SAIT Sayers, a weekly Toastmaster’s club run on SAIT’s campus, is helping students develop valuable public speaking skills.

The club, which meets weekly, promotes public speaking and how it can enhance both one’s personal and professional life.

Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization, is a program focused on the development of communication, leadership skills and listening skills.

“The values that Toastmasters espouses [are] integrity, respect, excellence, and service,” said Flo Scherpenisse, a second-year member of Toastmasters. “I have improved in leaps and bounds.”

It is a self-motivated, self-paced educational program, where members encourage and help each other develop communication and leadership abilities in a supportive and positive environment. 

“When I first came to Toastmasters, I had no clue how to introduce myself,” said Scherpenisse.

Upon joining Toastmasters, members use two manuals to complete their training: the Competent Communication manual and the Competent Leadership manual, comprised of ten speech projects. 

With active engagement and participation, Scherpenisse has completed her Competent Communications manual, her Competent Leadership training manual, as well as attained the Advance Leader Bronze award.

“It has developed confidence in me,” she said.

There are more than eighty clubs in Calgary that are spread out around the city. 

“Chances are, there will be one nearby,” said Tony Wegsheidler, an accountant and a member for 15 years. “All you need to do is show up as a guest.”

Membership fees vary by club, and most clubs are from $180 to $300 a year. 

A typical meeting involves a roundtable introduction before one or two speeches are given.

There is “impromptu speaking,” which can be very beneficial in the business world.

The latter part of the meeting is all about providing feedback to the speakers.

“It’s not only for the speakers, but also for the evaluators’ benefits,” said Wegsheidler.

Mitchell Holt, a business administration student at SAIT and Toastmasters member, said he sees tremendous growth in his communication abilities.

“When I started out last winter, I was very shy and didn’t like to talk in front of people,” said Holt. “I’ve come a long way from that.”

Holt has become more involved in school by joining clubs like SAIT Sayers and Enactus. He also ran in SAITSA’s recent Board of Directors election.

“And with this, I’ve become something more. Something bigger than I was before,” Holt said.

Regardless of career, Toastmasters has been considered a great asset.

“In this day and age, it doesn’t matter [who] you and [or] what you do. Chances are, you’re going to be interacting with other human beings,’ said Wegsheidler.

“All individuals have to deal with stakeholders, and you need to communicate your ideas and messages effectively.

“What I really want to emphasize is that what you can get out of it is incredible,” said Wegsheidler.

“It may not seem like a lot when you look at it, but it could change your life.”

SAIT Sayers holds meetings in the campus centre, room V128, every Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. Visit the Toastmasters International website to get a list of which clubs are closest to you. 

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