They say that some people fear public speaking more than death. That may be an exaggeration for many of us, but even if you only speak to small groups or individual people, most of us could use a little help with our communication skills. Whether you are deathly afraid of public speaking or just want to be more interesting when talking to individual people, the Hacienda Toastmasters club may be just the thing. The group gathers at 12:00 pm every Thursday at 4280 Hacienda Drive to practice speaking in variously sized groups, and help each other with friendly critique and support. Other clubs in the immediate area meet at a variety of different times and places.
"The goal of Toastmasters is simple," says Charlotte Machi, secretary and former president of the Hacienda Toastmasters. "It's to help people improve their public speaking and leadership skills." However, many people fear public speaking enough to avoid going to a club where they will have to. Machi reassures them they should have no fear. "One of the big things that is very beneficial about Toastmasters is that we make it a safe environment. We do evaluations after everyone speaks but it's not criticism at all. It's evaluating people to motivate them - actually picking out the things they did well and giving them a couple of suggestions about things to work on. You don't want to say everything they're doing wrong at the beginning or they're never going to speak again."
Speaking in front of large groups isn't the only skill the Toastmasters address. "We have a portion of our meeting that we call 'table topics' that involves impromptu speaking," Machi says. "How many times have you gone to a cocktail party or been on an elevator and tried to strike up a conversation with someone and sound intelligent? We help people develop that type of speaking skill as well."
If your New Year's resolution is to improve your public speaking, you might be interested in attending the upcoming open house that will be presented by the Hacienda Toastmasters Club. It will take place January 30th at Nellcor and Puritan Bennett, 4280 Hacienda Drive at the corner of Stoneridge and Hacienda in Hacienda Business Park. "January 30th is our meeting where we're inviting anyone. We'll really fashion that meeting to explain the purpose of Toastmasters and answer any questions that are important to potential members," Machi says.
For more information about Toastmasters or to find the local group that best suits your scheduling requirements visit www.toastmasters.org . For information about the Hacienda Toastmasters Club, contact Charlotte Machi at (925) 462 9765.
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