ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - If you'd like to overcome the fear of public speaking, communicate more effectively and improve leadership skills, consider joining a Toastmasters club at APG.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization devoted to helping members advance their communication, public speaking and leadership skills.

GP Strategies employee Vincent Minichiello, who serves as the Gunpowder Toastmasters Club's Vice President of Education, said that members hone their public speaking skills by working from the Competent Communication manual, a series of 10 self-paced speaking assignments designed to teach public speaking survival skills.

In addition to prepared speeches, members participate in Table Topics, in which they respond to an impromptu question or topic.

Members also work on leadership skills from the Competent Leadership manual, featuring 10 projects, which are completed by serving in various club meeting roles.

I2WD employee Nicholas Deplitch said before joining last year, he was terrified to speak in public, stuttering over every other word and uttering "um" and "ah" at every pause, and freezing up when he had to think on his feet.

"The environment is always positive, welcoming, and supportive," Deplitch said. "Everyone is struggling with similar obstacles. We are there to help each other succeed. (Being involved with Toastmasters) is easily one of the best decisions I've made in my life and wish I had found it much earlier."

I2WD employee Oscar Zalamia credits his career advancement to Toastmasters. Zalamia, a former self-described wallflower, decided to join Toastmasters in 1997 after a poorly received work presentation.

"Most engineers are not trained in public speaking. That tends to slow them down and limit their career possibilities," he said. "Having good communication and leadership skills increases your worth and your market value. You may be brilliant and knowledgeable but if you don't speak well, people will not discover you."

Zalamia said he found the confidence to take on leadership roles at work and enjoys public speaking so much that he regularly delivers keynote speeches at Toastmasters meetings throughout the region.

U.S. Army Public Health Command employee Rose Overturf agreed that participating in Toastmasters has improved her career.

"I have more confidence when I am teaching and briefing our commander," Overturf said. "I am able to deliver speeches in a manner that is clear and concise."

Overturf added that her listening skills have also improved, because members are encouraged to give constructive feedback after every presentation.

Meetings

The Fort Monmouth Toastmasters Club meets every first, and third Tuesdays from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the APG North recreation center. For more information, call 443-395-1970 or 410-306-0827.

The Susquehanna Toastmasters Club meets every second and fourth Tuesday from 11:45 to 12:45 at the APG North recreation center. For more information, call 443-861-0092.

The Gunpowder Toastmasters Club meets in the Chemical Demilitarization Training Facility (CDTF), Bldg. E4516, in the seminar room on the first and third Mondays of each month from 11:40 AM to 12:40 p.m. For more information call 410-436-5453.

The Gunpowder Toastmasters Club will conduct a membership drive Feb. 4 and March 4. During these meeting, members will talk about how Toastmasters has improved their professional and personal lives.

Page last updated Wed January 23rd, 2013 at 13:06