By Pat Carmeli

(Cazenovia, NY – Aug. 2012) Owahgena Toastmasters met Aug. 14 at the Lincklaen House for a special meeting to decide the way forward going into the next 30 years of its existence. OT is a member organization of Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization dating back to 1924 dedicated to improving the communication skills of its membership, most specifically of the oratory kind.

At a typical meeting, members converse on a variety of topics including current affairs and personal stories. At the last meeting, the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing was raised with differing opinions being expressed in a safe and respectful atmosphere.

But at this meeting, members also came prepared to offer short presentations on how TI has influenced their lives and how they think they could garner more members. One thing was certain after hearing from the membership: All felt that they had gained confidence in both their spoken and written communications and expressed beliefs that many in the community stand to gain by joining. And they pondered the dilemma that those most in need of gaining proficiency in speaking in front of an audience often are the ones too scared off by the thought of it.

What Toastmasters offers is a safe and comfortable atmosphere that encourages, but doesn’t demand, members to present, though it is never long before new members are anxious to participate in the Table Topics session – a short one to two minutes where members speak off the cuff about a topic raised by the Table Topic Master.

It’s fun, and one never knows what to expect. Practice in impromptu speaking helps students test better because it forces them to quickly compose a response including an introduction, body and conclusion, much the way a proper essay is constructed. While students cannot become full members, Owahgena Toastmasters welcomes high school students and allows them to participate fully at the meetings.

Other benefits include gaining an edge on job interviews, managing employees, giving office presentations, speaking socially, writing articles, becoming knowledgeable simply by listening and losing all those ‘ums’ and other unattractive fillers that dot most Americans’ speech patterns and distract the audience from the speaker’s main points.

If you have questions about the organization or its benefits, visit or call me at 315.546.4514.

By martha

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