January 22, 2002
Toastmasters fosters fellowship
By Eric Rangus firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ah Counter. The onomatopoeic title is pretty self explanatory.
Lisa Horton counts the ahs.
When someone speaks, Horton jots down the number of times he or she ahs,
ers, ums, or you knows. All are phrases
or useless utterances that unnecessarily gum up public speaking.
To an untrained listeneror a nervous speakerthese little
gaffes often go unnoticed. But not to Horton, a senior accounting assistant
at the Carter Center. When a speaker uses one of the aforementioned filler
words, she marks it down on her notepad.
After giving a well-thought-out, even-handed, crisply spoken review of
a speech by co-worker Bernstine Hollis, Cynthia Hooks sat down and awaited
Hortons ah report.
You had one ah, Horton said.
I did? was Hooks surprised reply. Hooks incredulity
was greeted with laughter and then applause from the 15 other people gathered
in the Carter Centers Zaban room, Jan. 10. It is that upbeat, positive
tone based on constructive criticism that characterizes the Carter Centers
Toastmasters Club, of which Horton, Hooks and 19 other Carter Center employees
Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated
to helping its more than 800,000 members speak more effectively. Individual
Toastmasters clubs are organized into districts geographically, but each
club retains its autonomy. A total of 88 Toastmasters clubs are located
in Atlanta, but just two are based at Emory (in addition to the Carter
Center, the Goizueta Business School has a club).
The Carter Center club came together about a year ago when Carter Center
Human Resources director Mike Turner sent out an e-mail inquiring about
interest in starting a Toastmasters International chapter at the Carter
Response was swift. The club met informally for several months until
finally gaining the 20 members necessary to apply for a charter, which
it received last June. The club has met on the second and fourth Thursday
of each month ever since.
Many of us joined the chapter not only to hone our speaking skills,
but for its fellowship, said club president Wyatt Ware, who until
December had worked in the Kirbo Building about a mile from the Carter
Center campus. He now has a job outside the University but retains his
social ties to the center.
It really helps people come out of their cocoons, said Michelle
Hilliard, a senior accountant at the Carter Center and the clubs
vice president for membership. I was like that. I never wanted to
ask questions or really talk much. But after joining Toastmasters, Im
no longer scared to come out and talk.
Even for seasoned speakers, the club has been a benefit. When I
have to give a formal speechsometimes we host events here, and I
have to present and welcome everyoneI still get really nervous,
said LaSandra Milner, the Carter Centers conference coordinator
and the clubs sergeant-at-arms. This is where I learn. This
is my training ground.
The Jan. 10 meeting, the clubs first of the new year, was pretty
typical. It featured one speaker (sometimes there is more than one): Hollis,
a senior accountant and club vice president of public relations, who gave
a speech praising the club.
A speech of praise is one of those listed in the Toastmasters manual.
Hollis, for example, is certified a CTM (Competent Toastmaster) since
she has already given the 10 specific speeches to earn that designation.
Hooks evaluated Hollis speechtouching on both the positive
(good use of metaphor) and where improvement could be found (when speaking
of the clubs accomplishments, she could have listed more). Evaluation
techniques are also something included in Toastmaster literature.
While each club is independent, Ware said he hopes to reach out to some other clubs in the area.
There are already some connections; Hollis and Johnson each belong to
Toastmasters clubs at their churches, and Christy Owens, associate director
of direct mail, is president participated Toastmasters club at CARE, her
previous place of employment.
Members would also like to recruit more men to a club that is almost
exclusively female. Just three of the clubs paid members are men,
although men frequently attend as guests.
I can see how my team members have grown, Milner said. Weve
become like a family, and wed like to expand that family and invite
others to participate. There is learning and there is excellence with
care. Thats what we want to promote.
Guests from throughout the Emory community are welcome to attend club meetings. People interested should contact Hollis at 404-420-3404 for more information.
Emory University, Copyright 2002