Communication: Listening an important part of speaking

March 2016 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
Silvertongues Toastmasters
Community Open House

Friday, March 11, 7:30 a.m.
Seventh Day Adventist Church
Conference Room
1159 Oak St., Silverton
All welcome.

Theme: “The Solution to
Lack of Experience”
Community is also invited
to regular meetings:
Fridays, 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Same location.

Information:
www.silvertongues.toastmastersclubs.org
Ann Snelling, 503-910-3668;
Deborah Climer, 503-792-3195
or Barb Rivoli, 503-798-5266

By Kristine Thomas

If you think attending a Silvertongues Toastmasters’ meeting will be intimidating, knee-knocking and scary encounter, you would be wrong.

This is a group that eagerly welcomes people to join the group and wants to share what they have learned about how to effectively speak – and listen.

Add to the warm welcome, the fact that meetings go quickly. Though-provoking speeches can induce laughter and sometimes tears.

There’s also an eagerness to encourage growth in fellow members with the acquisition of new skills for success in jobs and relationships.

The Silvertongues Toastmasters meet every Friday 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1159 Oak St., Silverton. This is a group that adheres to a schedule, making certain meetings don’t go too long.

Barb Rivoli is the vice president of public relations. She describes Silverton’s Toastmasters club as a  “fantastic organization that fosters growth, life enhancement and fun.”

On a Friday morning, Rivoli along with Ann Snelling, Deborah Climer, Mike Peterson and Michael Clark met at Main St. Bistro and Coffee to share why they enjoy being members of Toastmasters.

They all described – in one way or another – Toastmasters as a supportive, safe organization where members can overcome fears and develop speaking and listening skills.

From learning the organization and mechanics of speaking to honing leadership and listening, the Silvertongues members said they have learned skills that have aided them in their personal and professional endeavors.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills.

Through its thousands of clubs, Toastmaster International offers a program of communication and leadership projects designated to enhance speaking, listening and thinking.

Each meeting includes speeches by members, table talk topics where a member is given a subject and asked to assress it off-the-cuff, and feedback.

Snelling said feedback is about how to give better presentations, with notes on what went well and what could be improved.

Most importantly, feedback is always positive. Even if a member gives a speech about a topic another members disagrees with, the discussion is always about the presentation – not the material.

“We may disagree 100 percent with what a person is saying but we honor different viewpoints,” Snelling said.

A Silvertongues member for more than a year, Rivoli said she has received many insights and gifts from attending meetings.

“The Gift of Listening: being fully present when someone is sharing as opposed to waiting to speak; The Gift of Supportive Criticism: praising someone’s talents and offering them support to enhance a new skill as opposed to pointing out a perceived weakness or flaw; and The Gift of Allowance: expending and receiving expression of myself and others in full support, encouragement and trust as opposed to being worried of offending or being offended,” Rivoli said.

Peterson confessed he daily “puts his foot in his mouth.

“I say things all the time I wish I hadn’t said that land me in hot water,” Peterson said, laughing, especially with his wife.

Being a Silvertongues Toastmaster member has given him the confidence to speak up and express conflicting ideas. And it’s improved his personal and professional relationships.

“I have learned how to explain my ideas and opinions without fumbling and I am now a 100 times better listener,” he said, adding being a member has helped improve his communication skills in his marriage, too.

Often when a person is speaking, they really aren’t heard, Clark said.

For example, if a person started talking about cats and the listener disliked cats, the listener might be thinking about their odjections, rather than actually listening.Their focus might be on waiting for a chance to jump in and provide feedback or criticism.

Being a member of Toastmasters has taught Peterson to listen and actually hear what the person has to say.

When Rivoli first moved to Silverton, she found she wanted to get involved and make a difference.

What she discovered was she was contributing to the divisiveness. Rivoli said she became involved in Toastmasters because she wanted to learn how to contribute to her community in a positive and thoughtful way.

“I believe in the Law of Attraction, that you get what you put out,” Rivoli said. “Being a member of Toastmasters has taught me to listen and how to shut down my thoughts that wanted to jump in and respond.”

Rivoli said she has learned that by listening that she is validating what the person is saying.

“By learning the art of listening, you are staying in the moment rather than making mental notes on how to respond or criticize,” Snelling added.

Just as playing golf, knitting or painting requires continual learning and lots of practice, Peterson said people need to learn and practice listening and speaking.

“I think every high school student should attend Toastmasters to learn the essential skills of communication,” Peterson said.

A member of Toastmasters for 17 years, Snelling said she continues to learn new skills.

Toastmasters, she said, teaches confidence.

“Toastmaster creates leaders, great communicators and well-rounded human beings,” Peterson added. “Being a member of Toastmasters hasn’t helped me in one area of my life but all areas. It has helped me to be a better husband, father, business partner and business owner.”

Every single day, Clark said, he uses what he learned in Toastmasters to improve how he communicates and how he listens.

“Being a member of Toastmasters is a gift,” Rivoli said. “I am a firm believer that whatever you give in life, you will receive. Being a member only enhances your life.”

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