By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A local woman is hoping Morinville and area residents will be as excited about Toastmasters as she is. Liz von Kanel, Area 16 Governor with Toastmasters International, will be holding an open house Sept. 27 at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre to make people aware of all the benefits available to those who embrace the organization. Von Kanel is hoping to form a club in town.
“Toastmasters is an organization that helps people develop their leadership skills and their speaking skills,” Von Kanel said, noting currently there is a greater concentration on the leadership aspect of Toastmasters but speaking is still very much a part of the program. “I know when I joined Toastmasters four years ago, I was so afraid of talking in front of people my eyes would just go all over the room and I wouldn’t look at anybody.”
Four years later and Von Kanel has come a long way by participating in the program, having not only honed her leadership and speaking skills but also her writing skills as she crafts her various speeches. “I would not be able to speak to you today had I not been in Toastmasters,” she said. “I know that for a fact. So that has really developed the outside of me.”
But Von Kanel is quick to point out it isn’t all about learning to be confortable speaking in front of a crowd; part of the value of Toastmasters is learning how to properly conduct a meeting. “Sometimes you go to a meeting and the meetings are just not organized,” she said. “Nobody’s on time. Nobody’s ready. Toastmasters teaches you how to organize meetings in a timely fashion because we time certain things of the meeting.”
The meeting and leadership skills are lessons individuals can take back to their jobs or volunteer commitments. “It’s valuable to the organization the individual works for because you’ve got more productive teams; you’ve got people who are more organized – people who can lead a team,” Von Kanel said. “There is value to the leadership aspect of Toastmasters.”
The organization also affords its members an opportunity to be an officer in the club, filling one of the club’s seven officer positions from president on down.
Although members believe the value one gets from association in the organization is great, the cost is anything but. Von Kanel said annual dues are in the neighbourhood of $130 per year.
The Morinville Toastmasters open house will take place Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Von Kanel said she needs 20 people to start a Morinville club and in order to gather those people it is necessary to let people see what the organization is all about. “I want to introduce Toastmasters to the public,” she said. “What I’m having on the 27th is a demonstration meet.”
That meet will include a few of Von Kanel’s Toastmaster friends coming to town to demonstrate a mini meeting with Von Kanel giving a speech and another Toastmaster evaluating that speech, a necessary part of the program that helps speakers improve their patter. “We’re also going to have a table topic, which is impromptu speaking,” she said. “I think that’s an important part of the Toastmaster program because not everybody can just speak off the cuff like that if somebody has a question.”
Von Kanel said she anticipates the mini meeting will take about an hour and is hoping lots of people come out to see what it is all about. “It is a wonderful organization, and once people see the benefit they can get out of it,” She said. “If you stay with it [Toastmasters] the benefit is there. Slowly you get to see how you develop. It helps the people that are around you because they see this person is more confident.”
For more information contact Liz von Kanel at 780-939-4819 or 780-884-1154.