It’s noon on the first Tuesday of the month and many people might be asking, “What’s for lunch?” But for a group of Regions Bank associates, lunchtime means listening to speeches, evaluating speeches, and even speaking impromptu to such topics as “what would you do if you won $1,000,000,” or “if you were an animal, what would you be?” What these associates do mostly is encourage each other as members strive to reach their personal goals of communication and leadership. Many join to overcome their fear of public speaking. These associates are members of the Regions Evergreen Toastmasters Club.
Toastmasters International is a worldwide organization of community and corporate clubs designed to help people improve their communication and leadership skills. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders.
“Toastmasters represents an excellent approach to developing leadership and communication skills,” noted Alan Register, Commercial Banking Regional Executive and Evergreen Toastmasters executive sponsor. “The program helps develop sharpness and confidence around message clarity, elevating the performance of the entire team.”
Regions Evergreen Club President Charles McCalley quickly discovered the value of the Toastmasters program when he attended an exploratory meeting a few years back.
“It was about 10 minutes into the demonstration meeting held to form a Toastmasters Club at Regions Bank that I knew I was hooked. Public speaking and standing in front of an audience have always been somewhat of a fear for me and as I have learned, I am not alone! To have an opportunity to join an organization to continue to hone and polish those skills was a no-brainer for me.”
Quick public speaking tips for beginners:
- Request a mentor — an experienced Toastmaster — to help you with meeting roles and speeches.
- Use stories, examples and anecdotes to craft a speech.
- Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information.
- Practice speaking. Practice often. Your audience is giving you their time and consideration, so rehearse enough to be confident you’ll leave a good impression.
- Begin and end every speech strongly.
- Be conversational. Avoid reading your speech word for word.
- Explore more tips on the Toastmasters’ website.
“At the age of 5, I had to see a speech therapist because I used to talk with my tongue on my teeth. During this four-year process it would cause me to have to speak much slower than my classmates learning how to pronounce all my words correctly. You cannot imagine how much I used to be picked on, talked about, and mocked as a child — especially when we had reading day where you would have to stand in front of class to read out loud. That experience followed me all the way into my adulthood where I had a complex about speaking out loud in general to a point that any time I would be in a group setting even among my peers, if I would say something it would be in a whisper for fear of my words not coming out correctly. In 2019 after logging into work, I saw an email inviting people downtown for a Toastmasters Open House. I joined that day, and I have not looked back since because as uncomfortable as I was speaking out loud, Toastmasters has given me the confidence to speak without whispering or fear of not pronouncing a word correctly.”
“My Toastmasters pathway ‘Presentation Mastery’ has helped me become more comfortable with creating presentations and speaking in front of peers and executives. I now receive compliments from people all over my organization on how well I speak and present on various topics. Thanks, Toastmasters!”