04/19/04 — Goldsboro Toastmasters celebrate 50th Anniversary

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Goldsboro Toastmasters celebrate 50th Anniversary

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on April 19, 2004 1:58 PM

Evon Young walked into her first Goldsboro Toastmasters Club meeting a year and a half ago and saw a bunch of unfamiliar faces all around.

She did not know much about the club and was even a little shy when it came to speaking in public.

"I'm OK until they call my name," she said.

Now she has learned how to conquer her fear and knows more about how to make a speech. She even enjoys the challenge of addressing a crowd.

Goldsboro Toastmasters Club

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Juliette Thompson, president of the Goldsboro Toastmasters Club, addresses members during the club's 50th anniversary celebration on April 12.

She is one of many people who have benefited from the club, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

It is a nonprofit, adult volunteer organization dedicated to helping people speak, listen and think more clearly. Toastmasters International originally began in October 1924 when Dr. Ralph C. Smedley assembled a group of men and met in the basement of the YMCA in Santa Anna, Calif. They formed the club with a purpose of offering training and practice in public speaking.

Other men across the United States decided to start their own clubs and a federation was established in 1930 to coordinate the club's activities and to provide a standard program. It became Toastmasters International when a group in Canada decided to form a club.

The world headquarters moved to Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., in 1990, and now more than 3 million men and women have participated, many through corporate clubs.

The Goldsboro club was chartered on April 6, 1954, during a meeting in the dining room of the Goldsboro Hotel. The original club had 24 members, which is the same number it has now.

Members are from all over eastern North Carolina. They are bankers, tax collectors, social workers and other professionals, said Juliette Thompson, club president, who works at the Wayne County tax office.

The club meets twice a month in Wayne Community College's board room. The meetings begin with members presenting two-minute impromptu speeches about any subject. This helps build their confidence to speak in front of people and emphasis is placed on voice and body language.

"The idea is to help us be better communicators," said Mrs. Thompson.

Those speeches are followed by three prepared speeches using either the initial manual called "Communication and Leadership Program" or one of a variety of advanced manuals. The initial manual covers the building blocks of good speeches including organization, voice, language, gestures and persuasion.

The speaker develops a speech around his experiences and interests using the manual as a guideline. Each speaker is assigned to an evaluator who points out the speech's strengths and suggests ways to improve, she said.

After members complete all 10 speech assignments in the initial manual, they can apply for their Competent Toastmaster award and then choose from any combination of 16 advanced manuals. The highest award is the Distinguished Toastmaster.

She said the goal is for members to learn how to speak effectively, conduct a meeting, manage a business, lead, delegate and motivate.

"It helps you be a leader," she said.

Tangela Craft, who works at Wayne Memorial Hospital, has been a Goldsboro club member for two years. She gives presentations as part of her job, and said she is continuing to learn many skills that help her.

Membership dues are $48 per year, and the club is open to everyone. The next two meetings will be on April 26 and May 10 at 6:45 p.m.

Al Thompson, past president and Juliette's husband, has been in Toastmasters for 20 years and said the Goldsboro club has members that are professional and willing to help new members feel comfortable. Officer positions are for one year, giving everybody a chance to build up their skills during the meetings and become an officer at some point, he added.

"Toastmasters training is helping me to achieve professional growth," said member Anthony Edwards, "and to be a more active participant in my civic and community activities."