Guest speaker focuses on leadership
By Avalon Doyle, Contributor
The Douglas Toastmasters, a chapter of Toastmasters International, hosted an open house last Tuesday featuring Darren Frew, director of planning and communication with the BC Bioenergy Network. Frew is a long-standing member of Toastmasters International as well as being a member of several other professional public speaking organizations. His talk focused on how to give constructive feedback as a member in the Douglas Toastmasters.
For Frew, the skills learned with Toastmasters translate beyond just public speaking.
“A few years ago, Toastmasters changed their slogan to ‘Where leaders are made,’ which doesn’t say anything about public speaking. That’s because the confidence you gain, and learning how to properly deliver feedback to each other, are the same skills that make effective leaders,” said Frew.
The international organization was founded in 1924 as a way to help people get over their fear of public speaking and has since grown to be a powerful tool for building leadership skills and networking. Douglas College’s own chapter was formed in November of 2011. Since that time, the organization has hosted some impressive speakers, including bestselling author Monica Regan and Angela Louie, a world silver medalist in public speaking.
For those who have never been to a Toastmasters meeting, it isn’t as scary as it might sound. Especially for those who are new to the club, no participation is required—guests or prospective members can opt to just observe. The members take turns speaking in front of the group, either as presenters or as speech critics. This type of students-teaching-student system is designed to create a fun, friendly atmosphere where positive reinforcement is the aim.
If you feel you may already be a skilled public speaker, Toastmasters is still a great place to learn. Frew stated in his presentation that by being an evaluator and being evaluated, the speaker learns specific technique for improving speeches.
“Another thing is learning active listening,” said Frew. “You have to listen carefully to the speeches in order to critique them immediately after they’ve been presented.”
Club member Michelle Leong said, “It’s also about the quality of people members can network with. Your membership includes access to conferences where you’ll meet PhDs, CEOs, and other business leaders.”
Membership with Toastmasters also provides eligibility in various speech contests from local district circuits to world championships.
The Douglas Toastmasters meet every Tuesday at 5 p.m. in room 207 of the Douglas Students’ Union building.