Archived Story

Niles morning Toastmasters marking 10 years

Published 2:56pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

 

 Four Flags Toastmasters President Daniel Greegor joined almost two years ago in July 2011.

 

“Our mission,” Greegor, 31, of Dowagiac, said, “is to empower people to develop confidence and personal growth in leadership and communications,” particularly public speaking.

 

Toastmasters International was founded in 1924 by Ralph C. Smedley in the basement of a California YMCA. Smedley died in 1965.

 

By 2009, “We had 250,000 members,” said Greegor, who works as a financial manager in Granger, Ind.

 

His father is the longtime pastor of Sumnerville Bible Baptist Church on Indian Lake Road between Dowagiac and Niles.

 

“One of the founding members of our club (Margaret Dyer), all she wanted to do was speak at church. Some do it for the social or networking aspect. Others do it as the launch pad for a speaking career.”

 

Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hard Ball” was a Toastmaster, he said.

 

“The way I got started, I emailed Mark Sanborn, the famous author and speaker to Fortune 500 companies. I saw his website and appreciated his message and style. I asked him what I could do to better myself as an individual. He suggested a seminar in Colorado and to join a Toastmasters club. I just love it. We’re a low-key, no-pressure club that understands not everybody is like us. We will work with people to take it as far as they want to.”

 

Greegor said death is the only thing which terrifies people more than public speaking “because they don’t it all that often. When you’re competent in something, that just seems to come out, like a mechanic fixing cars. He’s not nervous. He’s been doing it all his life. It’s routine. There’s apprehension about something you don’t do often. Speaking in front of six to 15 people on a regular basis, you can make the transition from 15 to 100. We have nine morning members (there is also an evening Toastmasters club). It can be competitive, which can foster people into public- speaking careers.”

 

Greegor said manuals provide a framework for different kinds of speeches, such as getting comfortable with visual aids for those who dread PowerPoints.

 

“Another might be speaking at a roast or praising somebody,” he said. “Upon completion, there are awards. Myself, I have advanced communicator bronze, which means I completed a basic manual and two advanced manuals,” from which he can advance to silver and gold.

 

“The manuals set guidelines. It’s your responsibility to come up with the material. You can tell a humorous story about an event that happened to you or witnessed,” Greegor said. “You have criteria and are critiqued.”

 

What separates, um, a good speech from, uh, a terrible speech are “filler words,” he said. “They give the impression you don’t know what you’re talking about or don’t care. Eye contact is important. I had a history professor who stared at the textbook the whole time while lecturing. If he doesn’t care, why should we?”

 

And while “less is more,” don’t cut it so brief you create questions.

 

“Watch how ‘less’ you go. If you go too far, it won’t make any sense. Most speeches we do are short, five to seven minutes, but a lot of it depends on your audience, what you’re trying to accomplish, such as a fundraiser, with goals, history and volunteers.”

Four Flags Toastmasters celebrates its 10th anniversary May 16 at the Hob Nob on South 11th Street in Niles.

 

The club usually meets every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. at Niles Charter Township’s hall on Bell Road.

 

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