A NEW, Livingston-based Toastmasters International club called Livingston Speakers is being set up this month to meet demand for public speaking, presentation and leadership skills training in the area.
Meetings are fortnightly from January 17 at 7.15pm – 9.30pm, in the community rooms at ASDA’s Superstore in the Almondvale Centre (meet at Customer Services desk).
Prospective members are invited to try the supportive training workshops free of charge up to three times before joining.
Livingston Speakers’ president, Pauline Dix, says: “Toastmasters clubs are not-for-profit self-help groups providing a positive, encouraging and fun environment for members to develop their speaking and leadership skills. Meetings and training are structured to maximise both informal and prepared speaking opportunities. All members receive training manuals to work through at their own pace.
“During club meetings they will be given constructive verbal and written feedback from their fellow members. They can also opt for one-to-one individual mentoring. No matter where new members start, I have personally seen improvements in both ‘thinking on their feet’ and delivering prepared speeches in every member that actively follows the training programme.”
There are already three nearby Toastmasters’ clubs in central Edinburgh, plus clubs in Linlithgow, Falkirk and Glasgow.
The clubs attract a wide range of people who want to improve their public speaking or presentation skills and confidence. They can range from students to managers and professionals; people preparing for big occasion speeches; non-native English speakers and people in programs to reduce stammering.
All the clubs offer free taster meetings for interested potential members. All attendees get opportunities to speak, with paid-up members taking the main practice opportunities.
To join, members are required to promise to actively participate. Membership of the Livingston club is just £36 for six months to cover certification, fortnightly training meetings, plus free refreshments. There is also a one-off joining fee of £20 to register with Toastmasters International to receive training manuals and access to online training resources.
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About Toastmasters International
- Toastmasters International was founded in America in the 1924 during the Great Depression to help improve employment opportunities by boosting aspiring workers’ communications skills.
- In 1946, Scotland was the first Toastmasters’ district organisation to be recognised outside the United States. By the 1960s there were six clubs in Edinburgh, but by the 1980s only Capital Communicators remained. The recent economic climate has seen an upsurge in membership in the area. Waverley Communicators was founded in 2009 to deal with increased demand and Haymarket Toastmasters in 2012. Now demand is growing for a club in Livingston.
- The optimum number for a healthy Toastmasters club that provides enough speech opportunities for members to progress quickly is 20-40 members.
- Most clubs in Scotland meets fortnightly for two hours in the evening. Individual members work on preparing speech projects and leadership projects in-between the meetings.
- Members can accelerate their progress by joining additional clubs, for example, ones that meet in alternate weeks to gain weekly training and speech practice.
- Each club meeting follows an agenda, with half of each meeting mainly devoted to prepared speeches and evaluations and the other half devoted to impromptu speaking practice, plus evaluations.
- All Toastmasters clubs follow the same programme dedicated towards completing common Toastmasters Communications and Leadership awards.
- Each of the four levels of communications certificates (basic, then advanced bronze, silver and gold) requires members to deliver a series of ten prepared short speech projects. The basic programme addresses increasingly complex aspects of public speaking (speech organisation, vocal variety, body language, use of language, using props and speaking aids, adding persuasive devices etc.). The advanced qualifications are gained by mastering a choice of training manuals and associated speech projects covering different types of public speaking, from story-telling to technical presentations.
- The Leadership awards provide opportunities to undertake increasingly complex management roles.
- The ultimate award is the DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) for those who have completed all four Speech and three leadership qualifications.
- Successful members can elect to have a formal letter sent to their employer confirming each qualification gained (there are eight in total) in addition to receiving certificates.
- Mission: Toastmasters International is the leading movement devoted to making effective oral communication a worldwide reality.
Through its member clubs, Toastmasters International helps men and women learn the arts of speaking, listening, and thinking – vital skills that promote self-actualisation, enhance leadership potential, foster human understanding, and contribute to the betterment of mankind.
It is basic to this mission that Toastmasters International continually expand its worldwide network of member clubs, thereby offering ever-greater numbers of people the opportunity to benefit from its programs.
- Vision: Toastmasters International empowers people to achieve their full potential and realize their dreams. Through our member clubs, people throughout the world can improve their communication and leadership skills, and find the courage to change.
- Values: Toastmasters International’s core values are integrity, dedication to excellence, service to the member, and respect for the individual. These are values worthy of a great organization, and we believe we should incorporate them as anchor points in every decision we make. Our core values provide us with a means of not only guiding but also evaluating our operations, our planning, and our vision for the future.
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