Airdrie Discovery Toastmasters host open house
The Airdrie Discovery Toastmasters held an open house at Cam Clark Ford on Aug. 26 to show visitors and guests what the organization does.
The Toastmasters organization, is not exclusive to Airdrie, in fact the full name is Toastmasters International and the group has been helping people speak in public since 1924.
The non-profit organization is designed to instill better public speaking and leadership skills among its members throughout its 14,000 clubs in 122 countries.
Airdrie’s chapter has been in existence since 1986 and currently has membership of 14 people who meet every second and fourth Monday of each month.
The open house was spearheaded by Troy Kabatoff, who has been a member for six months and now holds the position of vice president of education, with the club.
Kabatoff used to own and manage a steel fabrication company and his journey with Toastmasters began when he was unexpectedly presented with an award and drew a blank when asked to say a few words.
“I’ve been a manager so I’ve never had a problem with speaking in front of crowds, but when it came to giving impromptu answers or speeches, that was something that gave me a hard time,” said Kabatoff. “I joined to work on that aspect of public speaking but I’ve stuck around because I just really enjoy it.”
At each meeting, members are selected for roles such as chairperson, joke master, table topics master and thinker of the day. Each role is charged with leading a portion of the meeting.
The club operates on a system of positive reinforcement rather than constructive criticism in an effort to build the confidence of members who are seeking to improve their skills when speaking in front of a crowd.
“There are a number of things that you learn when you’re here in regards to public speaking,” said Kabatoff. “You learn about how to make your speeches enjoyable, how to hook and grab your audience, to know what points you’re trying to make and to stay on them in an organized way.”
Around 12 guests turned up for the open house, including Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown, who gave a speech outlining his top-10 tips for public speaking.
“Never say no when you’re presented an opportunity to speak in public,” said Brown. “In the last year, I think I’ve spoken at over 700 different events because I never turn down an offer to speak somewhere.”
The turn out for the Aug. 26 meeting was gratifying to the club’s President Bob Rodgers, who has been with the Airdrie Discovery Toastmasters on and off since 1999.
“We usually get about two or three guests out to our meetings,” said Rodgers.
“Some of them will join some won’t, but we’ve had so many people come through here.”
Kabatoff spoke of one RCMP officer who attended a meeting to give a speech and had come to a Toastmasters meeting to practice and have the members evaluate him.
In addition to the mayor and local law enforcement, Rodgers says the club has a knack for attracting at least one type of local celebrity.
“We seem to get a lot of Airdrie Rodeo Queens coming through here,” said Rodgers. “I think we’ve had at least four of them come through here including the most recent winner (Kelsie Reinboldt-Lynch).”
Rodgers says that while the club’s main goal is to help people improve their public speaking, he believes that it’s the camaraderie and friendships formed at the club that keeps members coming back.
“Some people find it therapeutic to come here,” said Rodgers who suggested the name Toastmasters may cause some apprehension in people considering coming to a meeting.
“People imagine that it’s a club for experts, but really we encourage people who are struggling with public speaking to come out; there’s no pressure to speak until you feel ready and comfortable enough to get up there.”
A free library of information and resources are available at the club’s website at www.toastmasters.org