Sunrise Toastmasters Club helps folks conquer public speaking fears

Meetings run Tuesdays at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

Those looking to strengthen their public speaking skills may wish to drop by a meeting of the Sunrise Toastmasters Club.

Meetings run Tuesdays from 7 to 8:15 a.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (40 Holmes St.)

Set in a relaxed and very supportive atmosphere, members run through a number of exercises to bolster their public speaking skills and conquer their fears over it as well.

Feedback is offered as well – and it’s all done in a constructive way, members say.

Yaser Aljarrah, the Club’s president, has been part of the Sunrise group since the fall of 2016. And although he had some public speaking experience prior to joining, he recalls feeling the need for further improvement of his speaking style overall.

“I’ve learned a whole set of skills on how to play with your voice, speak higher or low, more quickly or more slowly – and how to use your hands and body (within) your speech also,” he said. “I’ve found it very helpful.”

Other skills he’s been able to work on include being better with thinking on his feet. This comes from what the group calls ‘Table Topics’, where a topic is assigned to a particular member and they have to chat about it right then for a specific period of time.

Overall, the week by week meetings bring about a range of positive effects, including building one’s confidence, too.

“Many people who start with us are very nervous, and that is very natural,” he said. “It’s a very safe environment here – everyone is here to help you and to support you.” As mentioned, positive reinforcement is also woven into the various exercises members take part in as well.

“We generally try to show the person the areas that they are really good at and the others where they may need some improvement,” he added. “A lot of people who join really improve a lot over time, and they also discover they have very unique sets of skills when it comes to public speaking.”

Bisera Mandic, a member of the Club, said she would encourage others to join by also pointing out the self-development benefits that surface as one works on his or her speaking skills.

“I thought that I was an okay public speaker, but then every time I was put on the spot I felt extreme anxiety, and I would kind of forget what I was saying. So I think that joining the Club has taught me that public speaking is more than just preparing for a role; it’s about having confidence on the fly. And I think that is something that I was lacking before,” she explained.

But via the experience of Toastmasters, she is much better equipped to not only speak in front of others, but to better handle those more spontaneous situations.

“I would recommend it for everybody.”

Aljarrah said that sometimes it’s hard to gauge one’s own progress. That’s when hearing the feedback from others is so helpful.

“When other people start to comment on how well you speak publicly – over time, just being here over these past two years, I’ve had many opportunities to speak at my job and various functions – I’ve volunteered to speak as an emcee.”

Hearing encouraging feedback from colleagues has revealed just how much of a difference Toastmasters has made.

Mandic agreed.

She works at home, so membership has also helped her make sure her speaking skills continue to get stronger.

It’s also helped her be more sure of herself in general. “I think now when I go out I’m more able to look people in the eye, where before I was a little more shy.”

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