Tree City Toastmasters helps students overcome fears of public speaking

Megan Wilkinson

Students struggling with speaking in public can overcome their fears by joining the Tree City Toastmaster’s meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the Kent Presbyterian Church.

Nicholas Coia, sergeant at arms for Tree City Toastmasters, said the meeting will begin a half hour early for pizza and soda. He said students will have the chance to participate in on-the-spot speaking and evaluate each other.

“The main purpose is to take the fear out of public speaking,” said Kathy Hammond, vice president of public relations for the organization.

Hammond said any high school graduate can join the Tree City Toastmasters, and all different age groups attend the meetings.

Coia said it costs about $35 to join, and students can join at Monday’s meeting. The fee pays for the Tree City Toastmaster manual and paperwork.

Coia said the group is low on college students this year. He said it has had college students in the past, but those students either graduated or moved away.

At his job, Coia said he has found that employers feel students lack face-to-face communication skills.

“Kids are so used to just Facebooking and tweeting today that they may lack crucial face-to-face communication skills,” Coia said. “Tree City Toastmasters teaches students to talk on the spot, which helps with interviewing.”

Coia said he originally struggled with speech, but Tree City Toastmasters helped him improve his speaking abilities.

“Overcoming nerves takes practice,” Coia said. “You can do this with a friend or a mirror. The more you practice, the more comfort you have with your speech. It gets rid of nervousness. One thing I learned that helps is tape recording and watching myself. You learn a lot about yourself that way.”

Hammond said one of the biggest fears internationally is public speaking. She said by joining Tree City Toastmasters, people are able to practice speaking in a safe, comfortable environment where members give constructive criticism to all who wish to improve their speech.

“It’s really a great thing,” Hammond said. “(Tree City Toastmasters) helps people who are scared to death of public speaking.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].