Club marks 25th with speaker


The Delaware Toastmasters will celebrate its 25th anniversary on June 30 with — what else? — a keynote speaker.

Professional speaker Richard Vail, a founding member of the Delaware chapter, will talk at 7 p.m. in Columbus State Community College’s Moeller Hall, Room 112, at 5100 Cornerstone Drive.

Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the free event, as are past members. While Tuesday’s silver anniversary is neither a regular meeting nor a recruiting event, those attending will be able to learn more about the nonprofit educational organization.

Member Todd Beitelschees said that when the local club first formed, it met downtown and in the morning for local businessmen to develop communication and leadership skills. However, it switched to its customary first and third Tuesday evenings of every month at least 15 years ago.

“There’s three basic components to a meeting,” Beitelschees said. “First is prepared speeches, where you give a five- to seven-minute speech. There’s 10 speeches in that first manual and things that you work on. The idea is by the time you get to that 10th speech, you’ve covered working on your gestures, vocal variety, organization, persuasive skills, word choice.”

In the second component, each speech is evaluated by a more experienced Toastmaster, in their own three- to four-minute speech. The third component is what’s called “Table Topics,” where someone asks a question, and everyone gives a one- to two-minute spontaneous response.

“Then, it’s like any skill, you practice,” Beitelschees said. “The best way to practice speaking is you keep speaking in front of people. Learning how to speak in public gives you confidence, and that can be applied to business. The spontaneous speaking allows you to organize your thoughts.”

In the past decade, Toastmasters has also offered a leadership track, where members have opportunities to show leadership skills within the club and organization, with accompanying feedback.

In daily life, Toastmaster members have given eulogies, or speeches at retirement, weddings, or for other organizations.

“Since most people are scared to death of speaking, if you have the skill to get up in front of people and speak, people acknowledge that and are more than happy to give you the microphone,” Beitelschees said. “It’s a skill that is really valuable.”

Meetings typically run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Speaking is optional, but most of the people who want to speak get the opportunity.

In addition to the Delaware event, 2015 marks the 90th anniversary for Toastmasters International. For more information, visit http://delaware.toastmastersclubs.org.