For many, public speaking is one of life’s greatest fears. “It’s right up there with death.” said Claudette Pilon, vice president of education for Smart City Toastmasters, which celebrated its 10th anniversary, on Wednesday, at Table 21.
“It’s a communication and leadership program where we advance at our own pace,” said Pilon, who had originally joined the group to help her improve her second language, English.
Having recently hosted the public launch of her published autobiography, Pilon credits Toastmaster for empowering her “with the tools to present the event.”
“Some people join to overcome shyness, nervousness, improve their speaking skills, to better themselves and gain confidence.”
On the evening of the celebration, members of the community, other clubs in the city, distinguished members of Toastmasters International, as well as Mayor Bob Kilger, a former Toastmaster, attended the celebration, at which Pilon spoke of her experience with the group.
For Erin Robertson, president, Smart City Toastmasters, joining was about improving her public speaking.
“I get that fear when I get up in the front of the room,” she said. “Whether it’s two or 200 people, it feels like the world is looking at you.
Robertson said that her involvement with the group certainly had given her an advantage at work.
“With wanting to go in and explain something to your boss, or getting an idea across to peers. I wanted that edge. I wanted that practice. Successful people are good communicators.”
She explained that the program is a very warm environment for people to learn, be supported and encouraged.
“Everybody is in the same boat. They are all cheering you on. Work at you own pace, no pressure.”
New members are matched up with an experienced member, as a mentor, and are guided through a series of exercises, progressively gaining greater skills and tools.
Among others, the leadership program teaches how to run a meeting, be a timer, evaluate and give good feedback, said Robertson. There is opportunity to grow into executive positions within the organization, as well.
Anyone is welcome to attend a meeting to get a better idea of what they are all about, said Bob Lebrun, vice president of membership.Meetings are held the first and third Wednesdays of each month, at St. Lawrence Secondary School, in the library, beginning at 6:00. See the community events in Seaway News for further details.