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Local club helps students overcome public speaking fears

On November 10, 2013

A local club in Huntington is available to provide students the ability to overcome their fear of public speaking and improve their presentation skills.

Toastmasters International is a worldwide organization with over 14,000 clubs dedicated to improving members’ public speaking and presentation skills. The Huntington Centennial Toastmasters Club started in 1978.

“Toastmasters is a nonprofit, international organization that meets for an hour or hour and a half and we practice public speaking,” Mike Harbor, vice president of membership, said.

Harbor said the Huntington club practices organized meetings, which involve prepared speeches that last anywhere from five to 10 minutes. Instead of a teacher or instructor, members use the evaluations as tools to improvement. Bob Teague, who is secretary of the Huntington Centennial Toastmasters Club, said evaluations are done in a helpful form.

Teague said the Huntington Centennial Toastmasters Club isn’t just available for professionals and anyone can become a member.

“It was formed to help not only professionals, but every day people,” Teague said. “If you’re a student you’ll have to present to a class at some point.”

Teague said Marshall students have seen success in the Toastmasters program in the past. Teague recommends Toastmasters for college of business students as well as international students, who Teague said really seem to get the most out of Toastmasters.

“We’ve had several students from Marshall who were from other countries who learned how to speak better and present better,” Teague said.

Members of Toastmasters can work their way up in the club and be awarded the highest honor, Distinguished Toastmaster. Members can also participate in divisional contests where participants compete to be the world champion of public speaking. Teague said the amount of time members put back into the program is up to them.

“You can do it for a year or you can do it for six months,” Teague said. “You go at your own pace.”

Teague said anyone who is interested can stop by for a meeting. The Huntington Centennial Toastmasters Club meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month in the fellowship hall of Central Christian Church in Huntington. Teague said the club will meet on the first and third Thursdays of November due to the holidays.

Membership to Toastmasters is $36 every six months.

Shannon Stowers can be contacted at stowers44@marshall.edu.

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