TOASTMASTERS by Shannon O’Connor

Toastmasters is a public speaking club, which helps people become accustomed to speaking in front of other people. There are no teachers at Toastmasters; members work together to improve their communication and leadership skills.

Glossophobia means fear of public speaking, and it affects almost 75 percent of the population of the United States. Writers especially have a fear of public speaking, because many don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a group. Toastmasters can help alleviate that fear, and help writers to have more confidence doing readings and lectures, and public appearances when they have books published. We learn to exercise public speaking muscles in Toastmasters by practicing together, similar to exercising at the gym or working on writing.

I joined Toastmasters at my workplace five years ago, and my public speaking has improved immensely. During a Toastmasters meeting, prepared speeches are given, and there is an opportunity to speak extemporaneously during the Table Topics section. Different roles are available that members can take during the meeting, including but not limited to Toastmaster, who is the emcee, or Evaluator, who evaluates a prepared speech.

Toastmasters in an international organization, and it has been around since 1924. Clubs now meet virtually or in person, depending on the needs of the club. You can read about Toastmasters at its website: Or you can email Shannon O’Connor.