by Pierre Roustan
That is, unless you have stage fright. You know the drill: you stand up in a conference, wedding reception, benefit, funeral, or whatever, typically because you’re the toastmaster, or master of ceremony, or something like that, and you’re supposed to say a few words to commemorate the occasion, individual, or memory. The horrible thing is if you have stage fright, you’ll fumble all over the place, make a fool of yourself, and destroy the whole purpose for the “toast,” “commemoration,” or even a “best man speech.”
Let’s face it: stage fright is a horrible thing.
If you live in Philadelphia, you have a shining light, a guiding angel. It’s called Philadelphia’s Toastmasters International! This is a club dedicated to providing you the skills you need to effectively present and speak in front of people. Stage fright, be gone. Fear of public speaking, no more.
You can expect a typical meeting to go like this: you arrive at the Toastmasters International located right in the Philadelphia Protestant Home on 6500 Tabor Road, Philadelphia, PA at around 6:45 PM. At 7 PM, the President opens the meeting with what is typically called a “round robin,” a method of introducing members and guests, followed by an Invocation and Pledge to the Flag.
The Wordmaster follows with a Word for the Day and then some entertainment by the Jokemaster. Table Topics are then provided, outlining what we can practice with regarding our speeches and presentations, and then detailed instruction and training for the rest of the night.
The best part of all this? Any guest and member can attend at their own pace; there’s no requirement to attend a certain amount of meetings.
Now you’re probably wondering what it costs: a semi-annual payment of $31.50 to the Toastmasters International and $5 to the local club you’re attending. You don’t even have to officially join and simply arrive as a guest for $5 each session. Convenience is key. You, of course, have to be 18 years or older to attend as a guest or member.
You also might find a certain air of quality and professionalism about this club, as the dress code is strictly business. Don’t get caught walking into a session with the Toastmasters wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Men are required to wear a suit, sportscoat, slacks, collared shirt and tie; women likewise must wear either tailored pants, a dress, blouse, or business suit for the occasion. Uniforms also qualify as business wear — military, law enforcement, MRT, or fire department. This dress code, however, only applies during the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. Summer typically allows ‘business casual,’ allowing men to forgo the suit and tie for a sweater or turtleneck.
You’ll be quoting with that air of professionalism the phrase “Let’s have a toast!” When we’re talking about presentation skills and leadership development, nothing beats Philadelphia’s own Toastmasters International.
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