Public speaking generates a sensation of agony as large as the fear of losing your life. Habitually, when confronted with an audience, we desperately want to find a way out and hide under a rock.
The reason is simple: you're afraid of the questions asked when you're in a group, insecurities invade your mind when you have to speak in front of a group of four people or more, or your shyness freezes your tongue solid because although you know exactly how to answer, you don't know how to pronounce it past your teeth.
These types of situations lead a group of men in 1924 to create the Toastmaster Club. It is a non profit organization founded in California, whose principal thrust was to find a solution for each one of the abovementioned conflicts. These conflicts blocks personal advancement and impede the personal expression in the public arena.
The development of the Toastmaster Club's ideal of helping others to speak effectively grew at such a rapid pace that today, in only the metropolitan area of New York and New Jersey alone, exists over 200 conversational clubs affiliated with Toastmaster International.
"This is a laboratory", said Julian Hernandez, founder of the most recent addition in Union City, New Jersey. "My objective is for people that speak English in this zone and that want a friendly medium to practice their conversational skills, to have a space to practice. They can grow beyond their limitations within a comfortable ambiance."
Toastmaster is an educational organization that functions at the global level. It's programs have also been successfully implemented in jails and rehabilitation centers for people with mental impediments. The programs emphasize oral communication and leadership.
The system introduces people to the immensely important skill of self discipline. It permits the practitioner of the oral communication arts to study text books, audio and video sent by the club. Later, the disciple of the art of communication can put into practice his or her studies within a group.
"Basically, it is designed to enhance a person's oral communication. Many people fear public speaking. Many who speak English as a second language (and also as a first language) are intimidated when speaking in front of an audience", said Hernandez.
"Things like conducting a seminar, workshops, lead a business meeting, or making a sale... even simply talking on the phone with another person that expresses himself quite well in English, intimidate people. This is the reason why we have formed clubs such as this one."
Club members learn in a group setting the skills that are normal in everyday life. A typical club has 20 to 30 members that meet once a week for an hour. This allows each associate to participate.
The theme of these meetings are usually set around small business sessions. This allows for the participants to acquire the basic understanding of lingual procedures. Each of the participants act out a role in which they are evaluated. The members are asked to improvise for two to three minutes, intergrating what they have learned from their previous studies into the scenario. Each are then evaluated on this and on their progress. The evaluations are oral and minutes later a member of an advanced level delivers the results.
Another paramount part of these meetings is based on the participation of all members responding to questions within two minutes. This generates the understanding of various themes and topics that enlarges the participants' cultural level.
For more information, you can call 1-800-9WE-SPEAK or go to the Toastmaster Club's website. It is crucial for us in the Hispanic/Latino community to make the valuable decision to better our verbal communication.
There is a saying: "The one that silences offers" and almost always what is offered goes against the one that silences. Even in Proverbs 18:20 -21 of the Good Book advises: "A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."
This is main thrust of The Latino Edge: to give information that empowers and edifies the Hispanic community at large to make right decisions and to give hope and life to our future generations. Two of the necessary tools available to all Hispanics who have the gumption to stand up and stand out is the power of the English language and its proper and powerful use.
Business demagoges advise novices and veterans to "dress to impress". We believe that "speaking to impress" is just as critical. It balances the inner you with the outer you. When that happens, Latino, the universe is the limit.
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