John Sooran (on the left),  a member of Toastmasters for over 20 years and an expert public speaker, is standing alongside Jas Taggar, Vice President of Public Relations for the Scarborough Toastmasters Club.

Scarborough Toastmasters helps locals overcome fear of public speaking

Learning to master the art of giving a speech

If you’re an introverted person, you know how difficult it is to stand up and give a speech in public. Even if the crowd is a small one, it’s still nerve-racking.

Toastmasters International was created to overcome this situation.

The non-profit organization has been helping people worldwide improve public speaking skills since 1924.

“Anybody who has done public speaking knows how frightening it is and that’s why we are here,” Jas Taggar, vice president of public relations at Scarborough Toastmasters, said. “This is an excellent opportunity to get together in a supportive environment, work on public speaking skills and build confidence among supportive friends.”

Taggar started as a member of the program a few years ago and said from that moment, he never stopped attending.

“Anybody who’s been in the workplace for any period of time knows that public speaking and the ability to communicate is absolutely necessary. You have to speak a certain way to get noticed,” Taggar said.

Taggar said he had the technical skills, but lacked in communication and joining Toastmasters helped fill that gap in his work life.

The organzation also hosts public speaking competitions in which a few Toastmasters-to-be give their speech on a theme of their choosing in less than seven minutes and 40 seconds.

One of the competitors, Suzy Jeppesen, overcame her fear of public speaking by joining the program two years ago.

“I gained confidence, I feel much more centered in my body, more relaxed and more animated when I speak  — even in conversations,” Jeppesen said.

What Jeppesen loves about Toastmasters is the atmosphere of trust and positivity the other members transmit.

“I don’t think you can get a better audience than the Toastmasters audience. We are all very supportive of each other,” Jeppesen said. “They welcomed me with open arms and we encourage each other.”

The Toastmasters audience always tries to find the positive side of a speech and Jeppesen said she was quickly comfortable and grateful to be part of the group.

The Scarborough Toastmasters Club meets every Wednesday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Stephen Leacock Community Recreation Centre. The classes follow the same format every week and people can go and interact during the workshop as much or as little as they want.

“It’s the same format every week, there’s no start and there’s no end,” Taggar said. “Naturally you progress, you become more comfortable and you take up more roles.”