Moody Air Force Base, Ga. --
After sweating and stuttering in front of peers, agonizing over every mistake, what felt like forever is finally over. While retreating to their seat, the next person walks to the front and the cycle continues.
Many people have memories of public speaking like this, but Moody’s very own Toastmasters Club, Moody Talking Tigers, encourages its members to become better communicators without the pressure of being the best.
“In life, your ability to [effectively] communicate is critical and toastmasters helps you improve those things,” said Emanuella McCall, 23d Force Support Squadron force development flight chief. “Even if you’ve been doing it for years, you still have to practice and this gives you practice.”
Toastmasters International, which was founded in 1924, tracks each member’s progress through assigned speeches, completion of requirements and attainment of awards at various levels. MTT was founded in 2009 as a chapter of Toastmasters International and strives to strengthen public speaking skills using methods and fostering a friendly learning environment.
McCall was a part of the group that founded the MTT and relishes the opportunity to help others develop and gain self-confidence.
“I personally like seeing other people grow,” said McCall. “They are very nervous in the beginning but [as they build those skills] you can see the confidence they’ve developed in themselves. My favorite part is being there, helping people.”
Providing an encouraging environment where people can grow and learn is a value the founding members of MTT have instilled in this group.
“There are no judgements,” said Juanita Walker, MTT founding member. “We give constructive criticism on what you can do better next time, but we also give praise for what you did well.”
When a member joins, they are given a leadership manual where they note the roles and positions they’ve filled at meetings and a manual that helps them prepare speeches they will give throughout their membership.
MTT also has positions such as toastmaster of the day who runs the meeting, grammarian, who supplies a new word that members must incorporate to boost their vocabulary, an “ahh counter,” who counts the number of crutch words a speaker uses and a timer, who ensures speakers stay within their time limit.
“Every time you sit in one of those roles at the meeting it’s counted as a leadership position because at the end each person stands up and gives a report of what they were doing,” said McCall. “Even that is speaking, practicing and learning with no judgement because we’re all there to learn.”
Some members join MTT to prepare for a briefing or an event they’re involved in, while others join for years, striving to become part of the upper levels of Toastmasters.
“[I joined the toastmasters] because I have to get up in front of students and give briefings and I was really nervous about it,” said Walker. “For me it took a little while [to get better]. I was one of those people that just held onto the lectern because I had those butterflies, but I’ve come a long way.”
Regardless of an individuals end goal or the amount of time they plan to be there, all are welcome to sit in during their weekly meetings.
“You don’t have to join right away,” said Walker. “Come as a guest and see if it’s for you. Most people join because they see there’s no judgement and everyone here wants to do better at speaking and this is a good venue to [practice].”
Anyone looking to observe a meeting or join the MTT can attend the next meeting slated for Sept. 8, at 5:15 p.m. at the Spot.