With 257,000 members in 143 countries, Toastmasters invites individuals from all paths to learn and grow in a healthy and judgment-free environment. The University of Winnipeg (U of W) hosts one of Winnipeg’s college-based groups of the organization twice a month.
Dorian Guerard, the vice-president of education at the Winnipeg Achievers Toastmasters Club, says there are approximately 80 clubs that actively operate within the Winnipeg area.
“I think of Toastmasters as helping people find their voice so that they can speak confidently in any situation,” Guerard says. “The opportunity for development is unbelievable.”
Though the group specializes in practicing public and professional speaking, they’re not overly strict when it comes to taking part.
“People are welcome to come in and give it a try,” Guerard says. “Some stay with the group for a short time, and some stick with it for longer, depending on what their goals are and what their availability is.”
“Right now, meetings usually have somewhere between five and eight people that are there on a regular basis,” Guerard says.
“We’re aiming to have 20, so we’re looking for people.”
Guerard says new members choose from 10 specialization paths that facilitate the learning course that best suits each individual. The specialties include leadership development, motivational strategies, presentation mastery and team collaboration, among others.
“We also have what we call table topics, which are impromptu speaking sessions where you are asked a question that you’re not expecting, and you speak about it for two minutes,” Guerard says. “It’s a tool that is one of the easiest ways to develop strengths.”
The club sessions also offer feedback and constructive evaluation on individual presentations. This seems to be the most beneficial aspect of meetings, especially for students, Guerard says.
“We’re never judging,” she says. “In classes, students don’t always feel like they can try something new, but with us they have
Aldrin Santos has been a member of Toastmasters since 2012.
“I was in an immigrant program at Manitoba Start, and my class instructor invited the class to her Toastmasters Club,” Santos says. “I attended my first meeting and became interested in the speaking opportunities it offered. I signed up as a member the following meeting.”
Santos says Toastmasters helped him in aspects of speaking, listening, reading and writing. He says he is now excited by the prospect of giving presentations in classes.
“The moment you show up as a guest at a Toastmasters meeting, you have already manifested a prime leadership quality in yourself, and that is the drive to inspire change,” Santos says.
“First, by inspiring change in yourself, aiming to achieve any personal goals, and second, by inspiring change in others around you by sharing the change you experience in Toastmasters as an effective communicator and leader.”
Winnipeg Achievers Toastmasters Club will meet on Nov. 12 and 26 at 6:30 p.m. in 1D10. The club meets on the second and fourth Monday of every month.