Michelle Trapp of Redwood Falls is looking to see if there is interest in setting up a local chapter of the Toastermasters International club.
For many people public speaking is not just something they would rather avoid, it is a cause for great anxiety.
In fact, statistics show a large majority of the public are more anxious about getting up in front of people and speaking than they are of dying.
A club founded in 1924 established itself as a venue through which people could learn to speak in various situations and gain leadership skills, and a local member is hoping to start a club in the Redwood area.
The club, known as Toastmasters, is set up to help people gain the confidence they need to speak in public, and Michelle Trapp of Redwood Falls is speaking out about the club.
“I love public speaking,” said Trapp, who has been a member of the Toastmasters Club in New Ulm.
The problem she encountered is those meetings held on Wednesday nights conflicted with her church involvement.
So, Trapp decided she wanted to see if there was any interest in forming such a club in the community.
“The closest clubs are in New Ulm, Marshall and Hutchinson,” said Trapp. “When I stopped going to meetings, I found I really missed it.”
Geographically that means a significant area is void of a club, said Rick Holtmeier, a long-time member of Toastmasters who is helping to break the ice in the Redwood area.
To help people who might be interested in finding out more about the club, an informational meeting has been scheduled for this Thursday starting at 7 p.m. at Living Word church, which is located just east of Red-wood Falls.
“Toastmasters is for everyone,” Holtmeier said, adding anyone is able to gain skills through participation.
Toastmasters meetings are dedicated to helping people learn the art of public speaking, said Holtmeier, adding there are three main elements to those meetings.
The first is having members present prepared public speeches from a manual. Those speeches, said Holtmeier, work on various skills, such as vocal variety, hand gestures, the use of visual aids and much more.
A second element is what Holtmeier called table topics, which includes having a question posed at the meeting, with one of the members then asked to get up and offer an impromptu response based on that question.
That off-the-cuff aspect makes people nervous, but Holtmeier said we all do it on a regular basis. We are asked questions by people on a regular basis and we need to respond without any preparation. This just helps one gain confidence as they do that.
The third element is evaluation. Holtmeier said for each speech presented an evaluation praising the things done right and suggesting improvements is offered in a friendly setting. Knowing one is among friends can help overcome those anxious feelings one gets when even thinking about speaking in front of a crowd.
All three components are going to be demonstrated at the meeting this Thursday, which gives those with an interest the chance to see just how Toastmasters works.
Everyone 18 and older is invited to attend the meeting. Trapp said a club can be chartered when 20 people join Toastmasters. For more information, contact Trapp at (507) 430-1768 or visit www.toastmasters.org.