WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Toastmasters International has been a staple at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in providing a unique program for developing communication and leadership skills to anyone who would like to grow personally and professionally.
The Toastmasters mission is to provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.
Each structured meeting focuses on table-top discussions, prepared speeches, and evaluations from the members. Each of the three Wright-Patt Toastmaster clubs; Tarmack; Huffman Prairie; and Wright Flyers; start new members with an ice breaker speech, giving others a chance to get to know the individual and discover their constructive traits when speaking, then provide feedback through the evaluation process.
“All of the meetings within Toastmasters have prepared speeches which gives people an opportunity to research a topic perhaps or talk about something they are interested in,” said Stephanie Richardson, Toastmasters assistant division director for Division A.
These structured meetings are designed to give presenters, as well as evaluators, an opportunity to practice, grow, and become more confident with presenting and in leadership.
“It’s not just learning how to be an effective speaker, but being an effective leader and being effective at conducting meetings,” said Angela Hayden, sergeant of arms for Wright Flyers Toastmasters Club. “To me as a business professional, I find that it’s invaluable.”
Toastmaster club speeches and meeting begin and end on time to ensure speakers don’t waste time with “filler words” and other time stretching tactics.
“The whole point of starting and ending on time is not to let a speaker deliver a speech and ramble for a long time,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Alexander, Wright Flyer vice president of education and Area 2 director for Division A. “With us having timed, prepared speeches and timed meetings, we can start and end on time, and get to the meat and potatoes of what we want to do.”
Toastmasters is open to anyone wanting to improve their communication and leadership skills. Based on practical verbal and written feedback members receive, those tips are incorporated and practiced for their next presentation.
“I remember what it was like when I was in the military going before your promotion boards. Hopefully, based on any experience with Toastmasters, someone can ace that fairly well, as opposed to going in there and trying and not being as prepared or confident as they could,” Richardson said.
Speakers are encouraged to give well informed responses and be very comfortable in what they are saying. They should also be able to conduct a meeting that is structured, keeping it flowing.
“I find that being a Toastmaster gives you the opportunity to practice your prepared speeches and practice off the cuff responses to questions in an understandable and very comfortably way,” Hayden said.
If you would like to join one of the Toastmaster clubs, plan to attend one of their meetings on base.
The Wright-Patt Wright Flyer Toastmasters club meets 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Area B, building 50, room 25. The Tarmack Toastmaster club meets 5 p.m. every first and third Wednesday at Area B, building 50, room 25. The Huffman Toastmasters club meets 11:30 a.m. every Wednesday at Area A, building 50, AFMC/A4 Buckeye Conference Room (Hallway B, Room 104).