Saturday, October 01, 2022

Toastmasters invite all to 'Celebrate Your Voice'

by TOM BARNES Contributing Writer
| January 18, 2022 1:00 AM

Studies conducted to determine what people fear most, revealed that a striking percentage of respondents fear public speaking more than death!

Thankfully, most respondents did rank fear of death higher than public speaking but the point was made by way of the studies. Fear of speaking in public, or glossophobia, ranks high with most of us at some point in our lives. However, most of us will, if we haven’t already, need to speak in front of a group of people.

While it can seem terrifying the first time, speaking to a group of people becomes easier the more one speaks in front of an audience. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

Let me suggest a way to confront your fear of public speaking and at the same time not only conquering it but eventually becoming an accomplished speaker. There is a group in Sandpoint that serves both Bonner and Boundary counties that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. This group is the Lake Pend Oreille Toastmasters. Some of the Lake Pend Oreille Toastmasters are professionals who want to improve their public speaking and leadership skills. Others just want to challenge themselves to be better speakers just for the fun of it or to grow into better communicators and leaders. Nearly 300,000 people in 149 countries have joined Toastmasters International to do just that. The Lake Pend Oreille Toastmasters was chartered by Toastmasters International in 2019.

Some current members have been in Toastmasters for some time in other cities before relocating to Sandpoint and joining Lake Pend Oreille Toastmasters. Other locals felt the challenge to learn and practice public speaking skills. The members of the club represent a spectrum of public speaking skill levels, and a diversity of goals. Whether you are a seasoned public speaker or just dipping your toes into the proverbial public speaking water, it is always fun to listen to members at all levels give their speeches. You can always learn something from whoever is speaking, while considering how you might like to incorporate that style into one of your speeches. There is always someone who is consistently so good you strive be as good as they are. They offer a benchmark. Most members are on a path to learn how to give a particular kind of speech and incorporate past suggestions into their next presentation.

There are 11 avenues, or pathways, to choose from within the Toastmasters curriculum, each delving into a unique set of skills to accomplish a member’s personal and professional goals. Examples of pathways include how to effectively motivate, lead and coach others, include humor in your speeches, innovatively plan, and master presentations. Each of the paths has several levels. Awards are given out as a person advances within a pathway.

Toastmasters members are mutually supportive. After each speech a member assigned as a speech evaluator provides helpful comments including what made the speech special, how well the speech was delivered and how the speaker addressed the audience. Suggestions on how to improve are also made in a non-threatening manner. Awards are given out at the end of each meeting on who had the best prepared speech and who had the best impromptu speech during a section called "table topics." An award is also given out for the best speech evaluator. A new member can ask to be assigned a mentor or can choose someone he or she feels connects best with and can help them grow as a speaker.

The Lake Pend Oreille Toastmasters meet every Tuesday at the East Bonner County Library from 5:45 to 7 p.m. with social networking beginning at 5:30 p.m. Meetings are currently being held in a hybrid format, with members attending either in person at The Library, or via Zoom if they prefer.

The Lake Pend Oreille Toastmasters will present an “Open House – “Celebrate Your Voice!” on Tuesday, Jan. 18, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the East Bonner County Library at 1407 Cedar (corner of Division and Cedar). Optional social networking will begin at 5 p.m.

The purpose of the open house is to explain what Toastmasters is all about and experience an actual meeting. Guests will not be asked to speak unless they wish. Guests can also attend via Zoom if they wish by signing in at Guests who intend to attend in person are asked to RSVP to Burt Houtz at as space is limited, and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

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