People arrive at Toastmasters from all walks of life, with a common thread leading them there – they want to become better public speakers. Often we think of a public speaker as a lecturer or motivational professional who draws crowds in by the hundreds. But public speaking takes place in everyday life situations. Many people are nervous to speak in front of a group. Although fear of heights takes the top spot for phobias, public speaking is the second most common phobia on earth. Toastmasters is here to take the fear out of speaking – or at least make it a much more enjoyable activity!
The Toastmasters program prepares people to speak confidently in job interviews, in front of coworkers during meetings, while delivering public talks and presentations, and is a great way for non-native speakers to become comfortable with their English. Along the way, many people pick up skills they didn’t even realize they would gain by joining a club. The program works to not only build confident speakers, but leaders as well. It gets participants comfortable with extemporaneous speech (spoken or done without preparation). And since Toastmasters wouldn’t work without giving feedback to speakers, members all benefit from learning to give and receive effective feedback.
The Roosevelt Island Toastmasters Club has been helping local residents realize all this and more since the 1990s. The club is conveniently located between Manhattan and Queens, and its close proximity to the United Nations draws in participants from different nationalities, age groups, and skill levels. The club is built on the principles of support, friendliness, encouragement, mentorship, and feedback. Although membership ranges from 15-25 people at any given time, the bi-weekly meetings are smaller and help create a safe and fun environment to try out public speaking.
Throughout the year, Roosevelt Island Toastmasters hosts open houses to give the community a taste of what the club is all about. On Monday, June 12, the club hosted a night with Columbia University professor Susan Cameron at Gallery RIVAA. Susan is an actor, educator, author, accent coach, and the head of voice and speech at Columbia. During the open house, which brought in over 40 attendees, Susan investigated the way human anatomy shapes speech. Her accent modification lecture was a big hit and great precursor to the Toastmasters meeting that followed. The night was just one example of the many lessons one can learn through Toastmasters.
Roosevelt Island Toastmasters welcomes any and all who are ready to confront their fear of public speaking or just want to improve their speech. Our meetings take place on the second and fourth Mondays of every month from 7:45 - 9:15 p.m. Anyone is welcome to drop in as a guest and see what the club is about – and, if it’s a hit, they are welcome to join for a nominal, bi-annual fee. We hope to see you there!
Ruby Lyon currently serves as the Roosevelt Island Toastmasters vice president of public relations and has been a part of the club for just over a year and a half. She works in marketing at Row New York, a non-profit bringing the sport of rowing to New Yorkers, regardless of background or ability.
To get in touch with Ruby or the club, visit 4121.toastmastersclubs.org.