Waxahachie Toastmasters will make you a better public speaker

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Do you feel anxiety at the thought of speaking before a group of people? Or, do you unknowingly punctuate your sentences with filler words? Or, are you a seasoned pro at public speaking but want to push your skills even further? Helping both novice and expert public presenters in sharpening their skills, the Waxahachie Toastmasters chapter can help you to confidently speak in front of groups — and even large audiences.

A chapter of Toastmasters International, Waxahachie Toastmasters Chapter 583467 meets each Tuesday, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Waxahachie, 450 US-287 BYP, Waxahachie, TX 75165. Newcomers are welcome to observe a meeting without paying dues, and anyone who wishes to join pays $20 for a newcomer fee and then $60 for six months of dues.

Group photo of Waxahachie Toastmasters
The Waxahachie Toastmasters meets weekly to advance members’ public presentation skills.

Chapter Spokesperson Leon Moore says Toastmasters members come from a variety of backgrounds and join the group in order to work on different public presentation scenarios, from giving a wedding toast to speaking before a crowd, through a variety of self-paced educational programs that offer mentoring, peer feedback and experiential learning.

“People come for different reasons. Some people come to spend maybe only six months, for a specific reason,” Leon says. “Some may be getting ready to do a major presentation before their company and they want to make sure that they’re polished and have someone evaluate their speech. And then you have the typical homemaker who volunteers at a local club. We have a C.P.A. We have a lady who works for an insurance company. We have people who are retired, who do volunteer work. Some people come because they want to improve their communication with others, and it builds their confidence in a non-threatening environment.”

Leon says a meeting of the Waxahachie Toastmasters chapter usually involves a member giving a 3- to 5-minute speech, which is then evaluated by other members. Those who evaluate are also evaluated on their evaluation skills, creating an environment of learning for everyone at all stages of skill development.

Of the several dozen dues payers, only seven to 12 members attend each meeting, with some showing up every week while others come every now and then, creating a comfortable setting for those in attendance to dive deep into what they want to concentrate on. One member joined only for six months in order to overcome a fear of public speaking before officiating at a wedding; “we never saw him again,” Leon says. “And we have those who come on a regular basis because the more you come, the more you speak, and the more confident you become as a communicator.”

For Toastmaster members with specific objectives, the organization has a variety of educational programs, called Pathways, that give participants a chance to focus on developing certain skills, such as mentoring, storytelling or leadership development. Altogether, there are more than 300 skill sets to build competency within, and members receive badges or certificates to recognize their accomplishments. For those who wish to display their skills publicly, Toastmasters International also hosts state and national competitions. As a whole, the Toastmasters programs are aimed at improving both interpersonal and professional communication and leadership skills.

Founded in 1924, Toastmasters International is a 270,000-member nonprofit educational organization with more than 14,000 clubs in 148 countries. The Waxahachie Toastmasters chapter marked its 20th anniversary in 2023.

Leon says he’s been with the group for about a decade and has seen improvement in the communication skills of everyone who’s joined, which he attributes to the structured yet casual approach to learning in each meeting.

“As you look at others present, you find yourself saying, oh, I can do that, and people are surprised at how well they do,” Leon says.


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