Toastmasters ‘conversate’ worldwide

By Linda Luk

It may be a funny name, but it’s a serious club.

The Toastmasters is an international organization devoted to developing communication skills.

Students of all majors who plan on a career where interpersonal communications skills are required, whether speaking in public or making a presentation at a meeting, may find Daniel Gray’s Toastmasters a useful commodity.

“The Toastmasters is a speaking club,” said Daniel Gray, a sophomore electrical engineering technology major who founded the club here at NIU. “We deal with public speaking, leadership and we deal with organizational positions.”

As Toastmasters, students will come together collectively, give speeches and evaluate each others’ work, Gray said. The organization also helps with job interviewing, resume writing and communicating among different cultures.

“It’s a diverse organization,” Gray said. “It’s internationally known as the No. 1 speech club of all Fortune 500 companies.”

One benefit of being in Toastmasters is that it will help build your resume. There are many companies worldwide that recognize the Toastmasters as the No. 1 speech organization, Gray said. Many corporations, including Fortune 500 companies, have Toastmasters within their companies, such as Motorola, IBM, Microsoft and Spirit.

Toastmasters can be found worldwide and is established in companies but also in various institutions, including governmental facilities and universities.

“I joined because it builds the resume,” said Nick Williams, a senior organizational management major. “Once employers scan my resume, they’ll know in a second that I am a Toastmaster. Toastmasters are worldwide, and they’ll know I’ve learned effective communication skills.”

Gray, who was a Toastmaster in East Moline, Ill., founded NIU’s chapter this year, which was officially recognized by the Student Association in October.

“I feel that speaking is a tool used by everyone. The ability to speak effectively can amaze as well as help one to comprehend what one is saying,” Gray said. “The reason for racism, hatred and unjusticeness is that it is not that they don’t know what to say, but they don’t know how to say it.”

Ralph Smedley, who conceived and developed the idea of helping others speak effectively, founded the Toastmasters in 1924. People who join and complete its program will receive a distinguished Toastmasters certificate, which is equivalent to a minor in communication.

The Toastmasters meet once a week at 8 p.m. on Thursdays at McMurry Hall. Meetings are open to everyone.

“If a person is willing and able to laugh, conversate and smile, they can become a perfect Toastmaster,” Gray added.