Is improving your public speaking or leadership skills a goal for 2022? The UT HSC Toastmasters Club can help.
Toastmasters is a proven program designed to help members give better speeches, think on their feet and lead meetings. By actively participating in regular meetings, members and guests hone skills, such as speaking within a specific time limit, using gestures and props, and reducing filler words such as “ah.”
Club members practice speaking and leadership skills by working through the Pathways education program at their own pace. They receive a digital badge and certificate for completing each of the five levels of their learning path.
Leadership is learned by taking on various roles during the meeting. For example, the timer keeps track of how long presenters speak and uses signals to help them complete their talk on time. The grammarian encourages members to improve their vocabulary by introducing and defining the word of the day, so that members can practice using it correctly during the meeting. Members also learn to give helpful evaluations to presenters.
Other roles include the Toastmaster of the Day, who leads that day’s meeting, introducing members who take on the various roles, and table topics master, who poses extemporaneous questions to a few members who are practicing to “think on their feet.”
“This part of the meeting is especially helpful for learning how to answer unexpected questions during a staff meeting, preparing for a job interview or defending a dissertation,” said Le’Keisha Johnson, director of the Office of Student Life and the club’s vice president of public relations. There are also opportunities to serve in executive club roles, such as president, vice president of public relations and more.
“I joined the UT HSC Toastmasters Club almost four years ago with the goal of honing my speaking skills in preparation for opportunities to speak professionally. When I have been given opportunities to address groups, I feel more confident and prepared to deliver my message. My confidence has come from my experience in our Toastmasters Club,” Johnson added.
Krista Kilpadi, MD, PhD, CCRP, research compliance coordinator in the Office of Clinical Research, said, “I originally joined Toastmasters in 2005 because I was a quiet and shy person who was applying for medical residency and I wanted to make a good impression during my interviews. What I didn’t know then was how being a Toastmaster would change me. I practiced delivering speeches, but I also gained confidence and the ability to be less anxious while speaking. I now am in a position that requires speaking in front of groups on a regular basis. My only regret is that I didn’t join Toastmasters earlier,” said the club’s vice president of membership.
Former employee Bonnie Taylor, EdD, joined Toastmasters in 2010. “I had multiple motivations for joining, but chief among them was I wanted to continue learning and improve at public speaking but could not afford the $1,200 cost of a Dale Carnegie workshop. Also, I was new to UT Health and didn’t know very many people — even people in my own department.
“As president of our Toastmasters Club, my goal is to sustain an opportunity for members to achieve their personal and professional goals. Frankly, I’m puzzled that so few people at UT Health take advantage of this convenient, inexpensive, time-tested way to drive their own professional development. It costs less than $10 a month, doesn’t require any time away from work and its education program takes a modern approach to learning the skills you need to succeed in today’s workforce. Otherwise, you might spend thousands of dollars for hands-on experience in goal setting, team leadership, project management, research and presentation, and communication strategies to get this experience. Plus, it’s fun!” Taylor added.
The club meets from 6 to 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday each month via Zoom and is open to the UT Health San Antonio community as well as others who wish to join. Visit uthscsa.toastmastersclub.org for more information.