By Mitali Pradhan, May 23 2019 —
Celebrating its 30th year as a club on campus, Speakmasters is continually striving to help students improve their public speaking skills. As a chapter of Toastmasters International, the club gives students the opportunity to speak in front of an audience in a safe environment.
Incoming president Faiza Farooq compared the experience to exposure therapy. She stressed that even if students are afraid of the idea of speaking to an audience, stepping out of their comfort zone and participating in the club can help them realize it’s not as difficult as it seems.
The structured meetings begin with introductions and time for members to give prepared speeches. This is followed by Table Topics which gives drop-in guests, along with members, an opportunity to participate by giving impromptu speeches on a provided topic.
In addition to improving public speaking skills, Farooq stated that the meetings are also an opportunity to gain exposure to different ideas. The meetings, consisting of alumni, students and individuals not affiliated with the university, showcase different perspectives as a result of everyone’s unique backgrounds.
“The good thing about being here on campus for a really long time is that we get alumni too,” stated Mendoza. “Those veterans can speak and motivate newcomers.”
The multiple perspectives and wide variety of people present at each meeting also help to guide individuals towards improving as a speaker. Neliza Mendoza, the previous president of Speakmasters, stressed the importance of understanding other people’s impression of you as a speaker as a way to improve in the future. At the end of the meeting, each speech is evaluated with constructive feedback and awards are given to select individuals. The club offers several mentorship opportunities with alumni as well.
The club is currently looking for students to apply for executive positions such as vice president of education, vice president of finance, and vice president of administration. In addition to leadership positions, the club currently has 20 regular members and encourages new students to join.
Mendoza says the benefits to joining the club include not only skills, but forming friendships as well.
The club encourages students to drop in to their Thursday meetings, running from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Executive Chambers in MacHall. In addition to contributing to Table Topics, drop-in guests and members can also volunteer for timekeeping roles and everyone is encouraged to write constructive feedback on ballots for others.
“You can learn a lot from others and almost always when I leave the meeting, I am feeling inspired,” said Farooq.
For more information, visit the Speakmasters Club Hub page.