Speaking without fear

Published 12:12 pm Saturday, January 8, 2005

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
Niles - Standing in front of a group of people to speak can be extremely scary, so can even doing a reading at your church.
Overcoming this fear is possible with the help of the organization known as Toastmasters.
They learn topics to talk about when speaking "off the cuff." They practice speaking in front of others and receive constructive criticism and give demonstration speeches.
They get advice on how to stand, what to do with their hands and the use of bridge or filler words, like, hum.
They have a word of the day they use to increase their vocabulary. "We speak everyday," Toney said, "not just in front of people." How employers view you is important to get a new job, she added.
New members are always welcome at the meetings of the Four Flags Toastmasters Club No. 9117 which meets on Thursday mornings from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Belle Plaza Restaurant, 1976 S. 11th St., Niles.
Margaret Dyer, who was instrumental in beginning the program, is an example of how Toastmasters can help someone of any age. She wanted to be able to speak at her church and has even taken a speech class at Southwestern Michigan College, Toney said. "She loves to help people."
Toney has recently been elected as the treasurer of the Niles Four Flags Toastmasters Club #9117 and has also completed the Communication Leadership Program manual and has applied for her Competent Toastmaster Award.
She holds the position of Vice President, South Region Sales Manager and Edwardsburg Branch Manager for Chemical Bank Shoreline. In addition to her duties as manager of the Edwardsburg office, Toney oversees the branch system for the south region that includes branches in Berrien Springs, Buchanan, Eau Claire, Edwardsburg, Galien, Niles and Three Oaks.
Presently she is attending Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind. to get her master's in Business Administration.
Four Flags Toastmaster Club is one of several thousands of nonprofit Toastmaster International clubs around the world. They provide a "learn-by-doing" workshop in which its members hone their public speaking techniques.
Upon joining the club, members progress through a series of several speaking assignments designated to instill foundation in public speaking. They evaluate one another's presentations, so there is no instructor involved in the club. Besides taking turns delivering prepared speeches and evaluating those of other members, Toastmasters give impromptu talks on assigned topics.
For more information, call Margaret Dyer for more information at (269) 683-5743 or e-mail her at: mdyer65@citynets.com.