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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Club Spotlight: Group eliminates fear of speaking in public

Gordon Bates
Alex Kulpinski / Arizona Daily Wildcat Dinstinguished Toastmaster Marcia Roberts practices her public speaking in front of the club on Friday afternoon.

“They say that public speaking is the number one fear among people, and death is number two, meaning that people would rather be in the box than deliver the eulogy,” said Mark St. Onge, vice president of the UA Toastmasters Club.

Meeting every Friday at noon in Room 216 of the University Services Building, Toastmasters is a professional development organization that instills confidence and charisma in UA employees by helping them with public speaking and leadership skills.

Each week, members come in ready to hear fellow members recite prepared speeches lasting about three to five minutes that are a part of a curriculum of projects assigned in a handbook. Certain members are selected each week to serve different leadership positions. St. Onge, for example, served as the club’s grammarian last week, and was responsible for identifying creative uses of grammar and for introducing a new word that is to be implemented in everyone’s pattern of speech sometime during the meeting. “Carp” was the word selected by Onge, which means “to find fault.”

But Toastmasters is not a club that intends to criticize anyone’s way of speaking. Members have their own stories regarding the reason for their involvement; some struggled with speaking at boardroom meetings, others are foreigners seeking greater confidence with the English language.

“I was somebody who hated speaking in class,” said Daniel Mottola, the club’s president. “But now people sometimes wish that I’d stop talking.”

As president, Mottola tries to emphasize the club’s fun activities. He recently implemented a “Tall Tales” contest, requiring members to share a creative part of themselves. Additionally, the “Table Topics” portion of the meeting stirs energy in the members when they are randomly called upon to deliver an impromptu speech that is related to a specific theme.

“These activities keep our sense of humor,” said Angelica Engle, a human resources senior program coordinator who helped establish the club. Although there is some work required to participate in Toastmasters, a workbook is distributed upon induction into the club, and members are required to complete 10 different activities that stimulate the development process of writing and delivering a great speech.

“The further you get into the manual the more challenging it’s intended to be,” Engle said. By the final activity, a member is required to write and recite an eight to 10-minute-long speech that is meant to inspire the audience with a topic that the speaker is passionate about.

“I think the members come away with a satisfaction that is found through sharing a part of themselves,” Mottola said.

Although the UA section of Toastmasters is mainly reserved for employees, there is a student-based version of Toastmasters, called Catmasters, which meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Cooper Room of the Student Union Memorial Center.

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