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Toastmasters builds leaders, instills confidence

Tech. Sgt. Ritchie Brown, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron member and Toastmasters president, unveils an accolade Nov. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Tech. Sgt. Ritchie Brown, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron member and Toastmasters president, unveils an accolade Nov. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Toastmasters clubs receive accolades for various achievements, such as gaining new members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

The 341st Missile Wing Toastmasters pose for a picture Nov. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

The 341st Missile Wing Toastmasters pose for a picture Nov. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Toastmasters is designed to help individuals develop communication and leadership skills and is encouraged for everyone to attend. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- For some people, public speaking is as easy as breathing. But for others, working up the nerve to speak in front of people is scary.

At the 341st Missile Wing Toastmasters, individuals are encouraged to enhance their public speaking skills and step out of their comfort zone.

Toastmasters [International] is a speaking group focused on giving leaders the confidence to speak in any type of environment, said Tech. Sgt. Ritchie Brown, who is with the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron and is the local club president.

Toastmasters was designed to help individuals develop communication and leadership skills and has more than 16,000 clubs across more than 140 countries.

Brown reflects on his own growth since joining Toastmasters.

"I was a little nervous when I first joined," he said. "However, I found the group to have confident people who could guide me in the right direction to be the speaker I wanted to be. Now I am confident enough to take on the task of speaking to large groups of people."

Each meeting follows a regimented schedule. The club president begins the meeting with opening remarks and introduces the Toastmaster of the day who is the host of the meeting.

At least two members of the club deliver a prepared speech and practice speech objectives, such as using gestures or a particular tone of voice. The speakers are then critiqued by the assigned evaluator of the meeting.

Peer feedback is how members learn to grow and improve.

"This is a great environment if you want to get better because there is no failure here," said Brown. "A person may make mistakes in public speaking, but that's alright because here, we help you improve your skills."

In the world, if a person speaks to 100 people for the first time and makes a mistake, that person usually feels embarrassed. This is a safe place to practice so people learn how, if they do make a mistake, to recover professionally and quickly, he added.

Following the prepared speeches are table topics, where one Toastmaster comes up with several questions and other members are asked to answer on the spot.

Although this can be challenging, the Toastmasters team provides an uplifting atmosphere to improve and offer constructive feedback.

"We're here to help everyone get to that same elite level," said Brown. "From the most nervous person who has never spoken in front of people to a well-spoken person, everyone is invited. The only way to get better is to practice."

Toastmasters meets from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the CIRCLE located in building 1145 and is open for anyone to participate. For more information regarding Toastmasters, visit https://www.toastmasters.org.

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