Speak up | June 6, 2008 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Living - June 6, 2008

Speak up

Spend Tuesdays with Toastmaster to hone your speaking skills

by B. Lynn Goodwin

Though it was only 7 a.m., John Temple warmed up the business and professional people in his Toastmasters audience in April by saying, "We have a lot to be excited about today. UCLA is playing in the 'final four' this weekend."

A voice from the audience shouted, "Go Bears," and everyone laughed.

Temple, a sales associate for Re/Max Accord in Danville, is the president of the Danville AM Toastmasters, which meets every Tuesday morning from 7 to 8:30 at Father Nature's on Prospect Avenue.

"We are unbelievably supportive people who enjoy each other's company, and we try to have a good time while we are learning and evaluating each other," Temple said.

That morning he presented a special award to Danville resident Gayliene Omary, who won second place in Toastmaster District 57's International Speech Contest. District 57 has more than 50 clubs reaching from Arcata to Fremont.

In her speech "Telling a Story," Omary said she talked about "sharing personal and family history so we can all learn from our foibles and follies." She is the club's vice president for education and had been laid off recently along with the rest of the Bank of America's wholesale mortgage department. At Toastmasters, she networks while she hones her speaking and leadership skills.

Omary was all smiles as she accepted the plaque.

"Competing helps me build my confidence and polish," she said.

Temple then handed the meeting over to another Danville resident, Lou Pilastro, the Toastmaster of the Day. He explained the jobs, which had been assigned the week before, introduced speakers, and kept the meeting on schedule.

Each week different people assume the roles of Toastmaster, Speaker, Evaluator, Timekeeper, Table Topics Master, and Jokes Master so everyone gets experience running the meeting and filling all of the roles.

The audience votes for the best speaker, evaluator and impromptu speaker every week, and the ribbons they win are good motivators.

Huong Stuart spoke about researching flying fish with her children. Her preparation and engaging smile appealed. So did her concluding statement: "Children are our teachers of how to appreciate life more fully." Stuart won the award for best speaker.

Temple, a veteran critiquer, presented his comments with enthusiasm and humor. He was awarded best evaluator.

Table Topics are also assigned and judged. First, the grammarian announced and defined the word of the day: jollification. Then Table Topics Master Alan Davis gave each speaker a context in which to use it.

When vice president Chris Sherry had to talk about a time he was "completely snookered," he recalled the day his brother put his phone conversation on speakerphone at work so his buddies could hear everything. Sherry won the Table Topics Award for this impromptu speech.

Though they share common goals, the group's members work in diverse professions.

"We have the woman who runs the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, somebody who works for Assemblyman Guy Houston, and a lieutenant in the California Highway Patrol," said Sherry. "Hearing the different stories makes this club special."

Temple took office Jan. 1. His term runs for one year, and this is his second time as president. When he joined Toastmasters 10 years ago, he wanted to improve his ability to express feelings, ideas and opinions, he said.

"I knew there were going to be some times when I would be asked to speak at my children's weddings and, unfortunately, to deliver some eulogies," he explained. "I've had both of those experiences now, and if it wasn't for Toastmasters, I don't think I would have been able to express myself as well as I did."

"Speaking in front of a group is almost like exercising a muscle," he added. "If you don't do it on a regular basis, you lose the confidence and the ability to do it.

"If you would like to improve your public speaking skills and be more comfortable in front of a group," Temple summed up, "this is probably the best environment in which to do it."


Like this comment
Posted by Lou Pilastro
a resident of Danville
on Sep 1, 2008 at 10:40 pm

This is a well written description of a Toastmasters meeting.