Toastmasters leadership club introduced

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Rewon Shimray, Staff Writer

Toastmasters, a club in its first year at the Ann Richards School, met for the second time today in Room 135.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help its members improve public speaking and overall communication skills. The program at Ann Richards is led by Mary Tucker, a volunteer who heard about the launching from Boys & Girls Club. She strives to have meetings ultimately run by students.

“The important thing is that everybody gets to talk. They have all these different roles in Toastmasters,” Tucker said.

There are many positions yet to be filled in Toastmasters. However, only two students have signed up: Dennis Vera and Monica Martinez, both seniors.

“I love public speaking, because I’ve been doing it since I was in 9th grade, but now I actually, like, want to get better at it and have someone to give me feedback and show me how to improve, so that’s why I joined Toastmasters,” Vera said.

Vera seeked the club out on her own while Martinez heard about it from a friend.

“Mrs. Maricela recommended it to me because there is going to a scholarship [Youth of the Year] I’m really interested in and it involves public speaking,” Martinez said.

While Vera and Martinez work towards improving their communication for speaking formal, public settings, Tucker explains that the skills learned in Toastmasters can be used in ordinary, everyday settings as well.

Tucker is a member of Toastmasters herself.

“I’m coming from fear and she,” Tucker said, gesturing to Dennis Vera, “is coming from enthusiasm. I think it’s cool. I think there’s a place for everyone. That’s what I like.”

Prior to the mentoring she received through the program, Tucker was very shy. Gradually, she was able to apply the articulation and speaking techniques acquired in Toastmasters into her every day life.

“People think, ‘Well, I’m never going to have to give a speech. This is interviews for a job. I have found out that I have gotten so much better at telling stories now… It’s not just for that time when you’re standing in front of people. It’s with your friends, it’s at parties, it’s at interviews, it’s for your job… It [Toastmasters] teaches you all of that… I’ve seen it in my life just shocking how much it changes things.”

Toastmasters meets every Thursday, and continues to learn new things each week. The largest takeaway and tip they have received so far has been the significance of story-telling.

“One of the things we teach is, what is your point, figure out what you want you want to say,” Tucker said, “then you tell three personal stories that support that point. That’s the most effective way.”