Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Learning to speak up


August 4, 2018

Photo credit: Tim Holt

Some members of the Gunbarrel Community Toastmasters: Julian Varghese, Dia Kline, Victoria Bard (with gavel), Karen Hedman , Rebecca Buchholz, Tim Holt

Toastmasters International, the community group that has helped millions of people find their voice, tell their stories with confidence and gain valuable leadership skills since 1924, has come to Gunbarrel and Niwot.

Victoria Bard of Gunbarrel and Dia Kline of Niwot co-sponsor the Gunbarrel Community Toastmasters Club that Bard started last year using a neighborhood online bulletin board middle-of-the-night call-out for interested members.

“My first post was at 2 a.m. on July 27 and within 20 hours, I had 20 people interested in the idea. It was very exciting!” said Bard, who dabbled with Toastmasters starting in 1984, but became very involved in Colorado clubs in 2013. Since then, she has held several leadership positions with Toastmasters, currently coaching local clubs to success.

Toastmasters meetings usually consist of a basic structure that includes members presenting prepared speeches, a Table Topics section which gives everyone a chance to participate, and then a basic group evaluation of everyone’s presentations, including a chance for all to learn how many ahs, ums and ers, or filler words, they used during their time at the podium.

The weekly experience helps members become better communicators at work, school and home. For those who fear speaking in public, Toastmasters is the answer. Even for people comfortable speaking in front of a group, Toastmasters helps develop organizational skills and builds confidence for life outside the meeting walls.

Kline, who had never been involved with the group until last year, said that Toastmasters helped her with the creation of her new business, a lifestyle blog.

“I’ve used the weekly meetings to keep me on track with creating content and as a way to help refine my voice. I’ve seen countless benefits from my membership and participation. It’s the best nine dollars a month investment I’ve ever made,” she said.

Other members echoed similar benefits during a Table Topics roundtable earlier this month, with comments such as:

“I have learned to hold my ground, listen, and respond calmly during difficult situations and not get run over by others.”

“I have become more organized and on time at home.”

“I am able to get my point across better and am much more comfortable speaking up in groups where usually I would only offer my input after meetings in a one-on-one setting.”

“I am now more proactive and involved in my business meetings.”

“Learning to give and receive constructive feedback in meetings has help me in my leadership positions in life.”

Bard notes that while all clubs are different, the general structure provides a safe container in which to build leadership and communication skills.

“It’s also a great way to make connections and build community,” she said, and noted that there are currently open positions to become charter and standard members.

The Gunbarrel Community Toastmasters Club is holding open house meetings on Aug. 1 and 8, at the Boulder Rural Fire Dept at 6230 Lookout Drive from 6:15-8:00 p.m. The group can also be contacted at https://gunbarrel.toastmastersclubs.org.


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