Spoken word: Toastmasters host open house to promote ‘Silver Tongues’

May 2017 Posted in Community

By Nancy Jennings

Silverton’s “Silver Tongues” Toastmasters work together to improve communication skills.

Silverton’s “Silver Tongues” Toastmasters work together to improve communication skills.

Does the thought of giving a speech scare you? You are not alone. Being an effective and confident public speaker can be a challenge. Listening intently and giving constructive feedback to a speaker can be equally difficult. But it can also be fun. Silverton’s Toastmasters group, the “Silver Tongues,” want to show you how.

The group is hosting a free open house on Friday, May 19, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1159 Oak St. Everyone is welcome to attend, observe the meeting and ask questions.

Members take on rotating roles –grammarian, timer, evaluator, humorist and “ah” counter – which aids in the learning process.

Toastmasters President Ann Snelling has been involved in the group for 18 years. She understands how it can feel intimidating – at first.

“Receiving feedback is daunting as a new member,” she admitted. “It was more terrifying to me to consider what my evaluator might say after my first speech than giving the speech itself.”

Toastmasters VP of Education Barb Rivoli appreciates the camaraderie. “I love the people that come through here and the relationships that are developed within the organization. We learn so much from each other, it’s such a supportive environment,” she said.

New member Lisa Heckman works as a financial controller for Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn. She looks forward to learning tools to improve communication. “I need to sharpen my skills. I think this can really help me since I’m always behind the computer screen,” she said.

Speech Evaluator Jamison Ulibarri enjoys witnessing the personal growth as members blossom in abilities and gain confidence. “We learn how to give constructive criticism and to meet people where they’re at,” he said.

Member Mike Peterson has learned many skills, both personally and professionally.  “Toastmasters has improved my life in so many immeasurable ways. My marriage has improved, although my wife would say that I’m still stubborn. As a business owner, I see communication as one of the largest barriers for anybody that we interact with.”

Norma Pritchard heard about Toastmasters, but for a long time was too busy raising her children. Now she embraces all it has to offer. “I could fit it into my work schedule. I feel more confident,” she said.

For Deb Climer, joining the group helped improve her speaking skills at her job. “I was a children’s pastor. I was asked to preach, so I wanted to get better at that. Anywhere you go, it really helps.”

Don Rush and his son, Ian, joined the group a month ago. Rush owns West Coast Classic Cougar. Ian is a college student. “Ian would like to eventually own his own business. He’s always going to need to further his education. At the same time, I’m realizing how much I need to tighten up my skills,” he said.

Right now the group is practicing five-minute “ignite talks,” weaving together 20 slides that advance every 15 seconds. Timing is everything. “It forces organization and economy of words,” Snelling said.

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