Toastmasters Club 'speaks' volumes

By Erik Fox | Feb 16, 2012
Photo by: Erik Fox Rochester resident Mark Whalen gives his evaluation of Thursday's presentations.

Marion — Public speaking can be scary if you’re not a “Toastmaster.”

Every first and third Thursday of the month, a Lockheed-Martin conference room comes alive with laughter and presentations as members of the local “Toastmasters International” club gets on stage and talk.

From first-timers to seasoned veterans, everyone learns something new about talking to a crowd.

“Many people join the club because they’re terrified of speaking, and they simply want to get better,” says club president Maryann Murphy.

A Mashpee resident, Murphy joined the club for its professionalism.

“I’m a professional organizer,” she says. “And organization is key to this club and meetings. You don’t have to have anything training—it’s an opportunity to learn.”

The club formed three years ago exclusive to Lockheed-Martin employees. After several inquiries from community members, the club opened up a year later.

A typical meeting includes a “Word of the Day” (Thursday’s was “mammonism”), two formal speeches and a “table topic,” an anything-goes presentation with audience interaction.

Speaker evaluations are also given at the end of the meeting.

Rochester resident Mark Whalen, who is a Lockheed-Martin employee and vice president of education for the club, said each meeting holds something new.

“The best part about getting together,” Whalen says, “is that we tell each other stories. We learn something new at each meeting, and learn about ourselves as well.”

Members have an objective of completing 10 presentations while in the group. Each presentation lasts five to seven minutes, and Murphy says that with 14 members meeting twice a month, completing all of them can take some time.

But getting through those speeches is half the fun.

“This is a place where you can receive constructive criticism,” Whalen says. “You don’t often get that at work. Toastmasters allows you to learn to provide and teach others, while getting some experience yourself.”

For more information on the “Toastmasters” club, visit their website at http://marion.freetoasthost.biz.

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