Public speaking is the number one fear in the world, with some people actually fearing it more than they fear dying. This fear is especially common among college students.
At Penn State Worthington Scranton, a group of students recognized the benefits of overcoming this fear and learning how to master the art of public speaking, and started a campus chapter of Toastmasters International. The Toastmasters Club is more than just a public speaking club; it is a world leader in communication and leadership development.
The group currently has 25 members - but the founding students want to see it get even bigger.
That's why they are hosting a membership drive/fundraiser for the PSWS chapter of Toastmasters International on Thursday, Nov. 12, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Keyser Valley Community Center in Scranton.
John Kresge, a senior business major at PSWS, founded the campus chapter of Toastmasters International earlier this year after realizing he wanted additional opportunities to improve his public speaking skills outside of the classroom. He thought other students might feel the same way.
Dr. Biagio "William" Sciacca, an instructor of economics at PSWS, who had been involved with Toastmasters in the past, turned out to be just the right connection--and he and Mr. Kresge began spreading the word on campus about the club as they recruited students.
"When life present us with powerful opportunities, it is unwise not to take them," Mr. Kresge said. "Communicating is an essential part of life; when we communicate we can learn, live and experience life at a whole new level. Toastmasters does just that -- it has given me a whole new way of living by being able to communicate and lead others like I never thought possible."
The Toastmasters International Club is designed to help individuals conquer their fear of public speaking, while also helping them to prepare professionally for the future. The program offers a positive and professional setting for students while delivering speeches at a pace that they are comfortable with and set for themselves.
It also provides an arena where students can improve their skills through practice, peer feedback and objective evaluation--gaining the experience and confidence needed to turn their goals into reality.
The six key benefits of joining Toastmasters are: becoming a better speaker; becoming a better listener; developing leadership skills; improving job interview skills; increasing your ability to think on your feet; and being an outstanding resume builder.
The non-profit educational organization also teaches individuals the skills they need to become strong leaders and communicators.
By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive and positive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program. Participants also gain the communications skills needed to excel at job interviews and build better resumes.
The PSWS Toastmasters Club has a core executive committee of seven people: Mr. Kresge, president; Shawnna Meyers, vice president of education; Janine Dobson, vice president of membership; Adam Barsigian, vice president of public relations; Elizabeth Heller, secretary; Marissa Conway, treasurer; and Evan Muchisky, sergeant-at-arms.
Several of them have already reaped the benefits of being in the club.
"To me, Toastmasters is an opportunity to gain confidence and enhance my speaking ability without being set in a classroom with teachers giving me a grade," said Ms. Meyers. "It's fun because my peers give me positive feedback about my speech so I know how to improve for the next one."
Ms. Dobson said, "Toastmasters has helped me grow in so many areas of both my personal and professional life. I have expanded my comfort zone and made friends that help me progress and grow. I have honed public speaking and leadership skills that will prove to be important in years to come. Toastmasters is a unique, well-respected and diverse club that I am so grateful to be a part of."
Toastmasters International consists of more than 332,000 members in 15,400 clubs that are located in 135 different countries. Toastmasters' mission is to provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.
For more information about the PSWS Toastmasters Club event, go to their event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/167324273615070/