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NEWS | April 9, 2021

Toastmasters clubs help improve communication and leadership skills

By Beverly Joyner 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

If the thought of speaking to a group of people makes you feel anxious, help is available at Joint Base Langley-Eustis to assist you in conquering those fears.

The Fort Eustis Old Point Comfort Toastmasters Club and Langley Air Force Base Toastmasters Club offer programs to improve your communication and leadership skills.

“We strive to have a club environment that is positive and supporting where people can develop self-confidence and grow in both their communication and leadership skills,” said Regina Fremont-Gomez, OPCT club president and Fort Eustis housing manager. “Instead of telling you what you’re doing wrong, Toastmasters is more focused on what you’re doing well with feedback on how you can improve.”

Prior to joining Toastmasters, prospective members can visit meetings free as a guest to see if it’s something they would like to pursue. After joining a club, members pay a one-time registration fee followed by a semi-annual fee. New members then take a survey followed by a one-on-one interview to determine their goals and paths.

“One of the programs our members get is called Pathways, and there are 11 different paths you can choose depending on your goals,” explained U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Gerard Magee, Langley AFB Toastmasters Club president and Air Combat Command’s command center superintendent. “As you complete the lessons, at the end there will be some type of speech or presentation you can do either at the club or at your job.”

For example, some of the timed speech and presentation categories include table-topics, vocal variety, use of props or audio-visual aids, speaking about research projects or a speech that adds humor, said Fremont-Gomez.

In addition, Magee spoke about how Toastmasters’ learning curriculum engages, mentors and helps you to organize different briefings and lead projects in the community. They have created a holistic approach which influences our military members and civilians that have joined the club said Magee.

Although club presidents are considered to be the focal point of the group, they also lead the executive committee along with initiating new ideas, motivating members to complete speeches and community service projects and serving as alternates for other club roles as necessary.

Due to the pandemic, both clubs are currently meeting virtually. There have been challenges in not being able to meet in-person, but Magee highlighted the benefits of club members adapting by learning how to use the latest technology such as apps, video calling and collaboration software.

“We look forward to getting back in person because it’s a different feeling when you’re in a room and seeing the interaction with everybody,” said Tyrone Fuller, OPCT vice president of education and Fort Eustis manpower and personnel flight chief. “It’s been a challenge but Toastmasters still succeeds and we’re still moving forward.”

While highlighting the club’s benefits, Fuller said he believes JBLE is fortunate to have Toastmasters clubs because most people who join feel they should have done so years ago.

“It’s all about self-improvement and helping people to grow,” said Fuller. “The people who have had the opportunity to be a part of it may love it, or may not love it, but I can tell you one thing – when you walk away, you won’t forget it.”

Club members are not limited to joining just one club; they can belong to several clubs at different locations worldwide. Memberships can also be transferred to other clubs. To find a club, visit Toastmasters.org.

Toastmasters International was founded in 1924 in California by Dr. Ralph Smedley, and initially, the clubs were open only to men. During the time when he started the speaking clubs, Smedley was working with the YMCA, and he wanted to assist people with giving better toasts and speeches.



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