YAP wanted to thank the Toastmasters Club in Athens for sponsoring the desserts for our upcoming Happy Hour (happening this Thursday, 10/9, at the Jackie O’s Taproom!) We also wanted to learn more about what Toastmasters is all about. So, we emailed the secretary of the Athenian Toastmasters club, Eva Bloom, to learn more.
What is the Toastmasters Club?
Toastmasters is an international organization that helps people improve their communication and leadership skills. It’s more than just public speaking: If you’re in a meeting or chatting with someone you’ve never met before, knowing how to come up with something to say on the spot, or how to engage your listeners and explain your ideas can be really helpful.
There is also the opportunity to improve your leadership skills through simple activities that you can do at meetings. For example, most people need to give constructive feedback at some point in their careers. That can be difficult, so having an opportunity to learn a good method for critique and being able to practice delivering your insights is pretty valuable.
Both our local clubs have weekly meetings so there are plenty of opportunities to practice.
Toastmasters International has been around since 1924. Do you know how long a group has been formed in Athens?
The Athenian Toastmasters Club formed at OU in 2000. The Stateside Club just started meeting this August.
How long have you been involved?
I’ve been going for a year and a half.
What’s been the biggest benefit for you?
I’ve become confident speaking in all different environments–taking with people I’ve never met before, explaining my ideas in meetings and giving presentations. I’ve received a lot of good feedback on a presentation I made at work and that feels really good. I’ve also gotten better at listening and offering constructive feedback when needed.
Have you attended any Toastmaster’s events outside of Athens?
I attended an officer training in Parkersburg this summer. It’s very neat to know you’re part of an international group of people working toward similar goals. I haven’thad a chance to attend any conferences yet, but my fellow club members have and have really enjoyed them.
What if I am terrified of public speaking?
Toastmasters is a great opportunity to overcome that fear in a really safe and supportive environment. You won’t have to do anything that makes you really uncomfortable. You’ll have great opportunities to expand your comfort zone at your own pace.
Is there a difference between the two groups in Athens?
Toastmasters clubs all over the world run on the same basic format. The Athenian Toastmasters club has been around for a while, and some of their members have really developed their talent; it’s really neat to learn from their experience. The Stateside Club is newer, but has a strong membership. It offers great opportunities for growth and to meet other people interested in improving communication. Although new members will need to pick one club to join officially, you can attend meetings at either of clubs–or both!
Can I come to meetings without becoming a member?
Yes! We love to have guests. You can attend as many meetings as a guest as you’d like and you can participate in the impromptu speaking exercise called “Table Topics”.
How do I learn more?
Meeting times in Athens, Ohio:
- Athenian Toastmasters meet on Tuesdays from 12:10-1p in the OU HR Training Center on Union St.
- State Street Toastmasters meet on Wednesdays from 12-1p at Quidel in the Stateside Technology Park on State St