Toastmasters at the University Club Portland

2012 September 18
by bpadmin

Polyester pantsuits. Space travel. Telepathic communication. Anything can become a topic of conversation at a Toastmasters meeting.

Founded in 1904, with more than 3 million members having joined since, the organization is designed to sharpen public speaking skills. Through prompts, on-the-spot “Table Topics,” speech evaluators and positive reinforcement (awards!), Toastmasters members improve speaking skills in a sociable, supportive and often funny environment.

At a recent meeting, Toastmasters members lit up the room with a shared positive energy and brief, witty speeches, despite the earliness of the hour. Though 7:30 a.m. meetings might not immediately appeal to night owls, this may well be the best way to wake up on a Thursday morning. (The elegantly displayed coffee, tea and pastries help, too.)

Toastmasters meetings adhere to a strict schedule, which helps if you have a job to go to. Each meeting is smoothly executed by members who fill roles on a voluntary basis: the Toastmaster greets the gathered members and provides the “thought for the day”; the Presiding Officer keeps the meeting on track, and invites each speaker to the podium; the Timer keeps the speakers under their time limits; the Grammarian alerts speakers to grammar or elocution flubs with the use of a loud clicker; and various Evaluators offer praise and constructive criticism to the speakers. The whole thing runs like a well-oiled machine, and the pace is such that the meeting never drags.

The University Club of Portland has played host to a chapter of Toastmasters International since 2005, and new members are always welcome. Besides the inevitable improvement in one’s public speaking, the organization offers more concrete incentives to its members: individual clubs can accrue points by recruiting new members, earning awards, completing manuals, and organizing contests and events, among other things. Points can be redeemed for items in the Toastmasters International shop catalogue. There’s also the prestige of being named a Distinguished Club, Select Distinguished Club or—honor of honors—President’s Distinguished Club.

The University Club of Portland chapter of Toastmasters International has a lot to offer prospective members. Whether you seek to improve your public speaking skills for work, for weddings, or just for witty banter, this club is the place for it. If you are a member of the University Club, consider dropping in on a Toastmasters meeting. You can even bring a spouse or a friend! Guests are welcome, however membership is open only to University Club members and their partners. Hear, hear!

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