Deborah Mitton knows there’s a lot more to Toastmasters than public speaking. She’s seen people use it to help them write better, develop technical skills, get promotions, and to just have fun. Some people don’t even present speeches.
The new president of the Truro Speakeasy Toastmasters club has improved her own leadership and communication skills, and improved her own writing.
“It’s a constant personal growth journey,” she said. “My initial reason for getting involved was to improve my writing, and even my spelling has improved. I enjoy learning and this has helped me learn other things too. It’s a very exciting time in Toastmasters.”
Years ago, she went to a few meetings in Ontario, but at that time her children were young and she felt it wasn’t the right time to get more involved. In 2016, she decided the time was right.
“I’ve learned to put my vulnerability into my speeches, and that was the most difficult part for me,” she said. “I’ve shared little bits of myself in my speeches, but the people are supportive and the positive atmosphere at meetings is amazing.”
A member’s first speech introduces them to the rest of the club; after that they have a variety of choices. Mitton recently presented a storytelling talk about Mi’kmaq artist and musician Alan Syliboy and his book, The Thundermaker.
Members provide a speaker with feedback on things such as tone of voice, speaking speed, visual aids and body language.
The club consists of people ranging in age from 18 to senior. Members set goals and some leave once they’ve achieve their goals, while some remain and set new goals.
In 2010, Toastmasters International made changes to modernize the communication program.
“Toastmasters is keeping up to date on training people for presentations,” said Mitton. “If people want to do power point presentations, there’s guidance available. There’s a lot of help with technology.
“It strengthens communication and leadership skills. You come in as one person but you become part of a team.”
Toastmasters meets the first and third Tuesday of each month, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the NSCC, Forrester Hall. Guests are welcome.
On Feb. 20, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. the club is holding an open house, and anyone is invited to stop by.