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Talking professional development: Toastmasters teaches competent communication

Lt. Col. Kevin Whaley, intelligence officer at Air Force Space Command Headquarters, fills the role of Toastmaster and leads the meeting of Peterson Toastmasters Club, in this Nov. 8, 2016 file photo. The club has helped members of Team Pete hone communication skills for more than 30 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Lt. Col. Kevin Whaley, intelligence officer at Air Force Space Command Headquarters, fills the role of Toastmaster and leads the meeting of Peterson Toastmasters Club, in this Nov. 8, 2016 file photo. The club has helped members of Team Pete hone communication skills for more than 30 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When the time comes to speak in front of any size group of people, preparation and experience are the groundwork for pulling it off successfully. Rosie Suerdieck. Peterson Toastmasters for public relations vice-president, said the organization provides the necessary resources.

The Peterson Toastmasters Club is holding a membership drive during its meeting on May 16th, 2017, from 11:30-12:30 in the large conference room at the Peterson Air Force Base Chapel, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. In addition to the usual meeting agenda, there are special components planned to show potential members the benefits of club membership.

"Toastmasters has helped me to be more confident in all areas of my life,” said Suerdieck, who also operates a photography business. “Yes, we are known for speeches, but our club does so much more than that. You also learn leadership and how to speak intelligently not only in professional settings, but also in everyday settings.”

The Peterson club began Nov. 1, 1983 and at its core includes seasoned public speakers, including a professional speaker and author, as well as less seasoned orators said Mike Pierson, club president.

“Most Toastmasters clubs lose one third of their members each year,” Pierson said. “Because of our military population, we lose about half, so we're constantly looking for new members.”

The entry-level educational track in Toastmasters for people who want to build or improve communication skills is called the Competent Communicator track. The track consists of 10 projects designed to develop skills a step at a time.

Suerdieck said the projects and segments of the meetings are practical. For example, she noted that Table Topics, impromptu talks with a one to two minute length, happen every day in places such as grocery store lines.

“You never know who you will speak to on a daily basis, maybe even a future boss or business partner,” Suerdieck said. “Toastmasters has taught me how to make the best of every opportunity."

Other parts of the Competent Communicator track help develop proficiency in things like icebreakers, speech organization, non-verbal communication, vocal variety and using visual aids to name a few. Along with the scheduled talks, components of each meeting also are designed to improve skills.

Membership is open to anyone with Peterson AFB access, whether military, civilian, contractor, family member, or retiree.

Peterson Toastmasters Club meets Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. at the Peterson AFB Chapel. For more information visit: https://petersontoastmasters.toastmastersclubs.org


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