Public speaking isn't something that necessarily means standing up in front of a large group of people and giving a formal speech. Instead, it can mean simply going door-to-door and talking to each of your neighbors or sitting down and talking to someone about a particular subject. Either way, there is a group in Sunnyside that is working to ensure that its members are confident no matter what the speaking situation might be.
Cherie Thompson, a member of the local Toastmasters club, said the main purpose of the organization is to help people learn to speak in front of a group without feeling shy.
Thompson, who has been involved in the club for about three months, said the organization has already helped make her more confident when speaking in front of people.
She added that as a stay-at-home mother she doesn't find herself having to give speeches too often in her everyday life, but there have been opportunities for her to put to use the skills she has learned through her membership in Toastmasters.
Thompson said she and her husband were recently trying to correct a zoning error involving their home, and part of the process included talking to neighbors within a certain radius of the house.
Although Thompson was forced to go door-to-door and talk to people she had never really met before, she found that she felt fairly comfortable.
"I found I was actually quite confident," Thompson said, noting that she contributes that confidence to being a member of Toastmasters.
Toastmasters is a club that meets once a week during the noon hour. Thompson explained that the meetings give members a chance to practice public speaking skills they have learned. She added that once a person becomes a member of the club they begin receiving information in the mail about public speaking and ways they can do it more effectively.
Thompson said during each meeting there is at least one speaker, who stands in front of the group and gives a five to seven-minute presentation. She said the club also does some impromptu speeches, which tend to be about one to two minutes in length on a subject the person is given just seconds beforehand.
However, the club doesn't simply ask its members to get up in front of the group and give a presentation. Thompson said there is a grammarian at the meeting that keeps track of the number of filler words and ums the person uses during their speech. She added that every speech that is given also receives an evaluation.
Thompson said members can give speeches about anything, adding that the goals of each of the speeches is fairly simple. She explained that the first speech a member is asked to give is an icebreaker speech, which involves telling the group a little about yourself. She said after the speech, the group's members are asked to assess the speeches.
Thompson said she wants people to know that Toastmasters is a fun organization with which to be involved.
"It will give you more confidence in general," Thompson said. "Think of it as a new challenge."
Toastmasters meet every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the conference room at Sunnyside Community Hospital. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the club is invited to attend one of the weekly meetings.