As the Toastmasters can say, it’s as much how you say it as what is said that makes a speech effective and memorable. It’s a message they have been sharing with those from B.C. for 25 years now, who as a club celebrated their silver anniversary in November of last year.
Chartered in 1985 with 20 members, their membership has fluctuated, Rob Boyce said, and they’re actively inviting everyone out to see what they’re all about.The club’s mission is to provide a healthy environment for individuals to flush out ones leadership and oral communication.
“The idea is to get comfortable and effective in public speaking,” club President Boyce said. “So overcoming fear and organizing your thoughts are an important part of that.”One is evaluated by their peers, and it’s designed to be more constructive than it is critical, Boyce said. These evaluations offer some points, such as “I like the way you use hand gestures, but your tone could use some improvement.”
“It’s not a teacher and student type of exercise, it’s a mutually supportive type of organization, so you learn by doing,” Boyce said.
It’s definitely more than just how you speak, though. Often an orator may have personal ticks that may distract the listener from the main message — clicking one’s ball point pen, or scratching one’s head, or saying “um” every three sentences or so. All may be done subconsciously, but all can be easily amended, if the person doing them knows what it is they’re doing.
“What people say is only 10 to 20 per cent of the message,” Boyce said. “You have facial expressions, gestures.”
One of the first lessons he learned from his parents was that when you are speaking you should keep your hands in your pockets. According to Toastmasters, and a lesson he’s since learned, this is wrong, Boyce said, who first joined Toastmasters 12 years ago in Stewart. It depends on the topic, of course, but by being expressive you can bring your audience in to really listen to what it is you are saying.
You do tend to get critical of people, Boyce said, and their speeches as a result, but it’s a great experience, no matter what the reason for joining. Reasons can run from wanting to boost one’s self-esteem to an “emergency” such as a major speech that popped up.
They held a celebratory meeting this past Monday with cake for their 25th.
Members also have to chance to go to conventions and compete if they want, as they have in-house competitions. B.C. is one of the largest districts in the world, with 250 clubs across the province. It can provide a lot of opportunities and has opened a lot of doors for people, but mostly it’s about one’s self-confidence and how to communicate effectively.
“Some will get you angry, or maybe get you crying or just get you wound up to go do something,” Boyce said. “It’s very interesting how a speaker can do that.”
Like most clubs, they’re always recruiting, Boyce said, who was happy to welcome two guests from Houston to their last meeting despite the icy wintery roads. Toastmasters meets every second and fourth Monday at 7 p.m. at Smithers Secondary School.
To find out more you can contact Boyce at 250-847-9288 or Sheila Cole at 250-847-2862.