PORT HARDY—Murray Doak makes a living out of talking to other people. But when he was asked on three days notice to give the best man’s speech before a wedding party of more than 100 people this fall, he was glad he had two years of Toastmasters meetings under his belt.
Doak is a flight service specialist at Port Hardy Airport. In other words, he works in the tower, communicating with pilots to guide them into and out of the airport.
“Professional communications on state-of-the-art equipment is one thing,” said Doak. “But when you get any one of us in the tower out in front of a group of 20 or 30 or 40 people, we’re like anyone else.
“It’s that fear of public speaking that brings people into Toastmasters.”
Doak delivered a sparkling wedding speech, crediting it in part by the two years he spent attending meetings of the Port Hardy Toastmasters Club before it disbanded last fall.
Now, after its one-year hiatus, Port Hardy Toastmasters has been re-formed under the direction of an enthusiastic young director and is holding weekly meetings at North Island College. After a few short weeks the club is already making a difference in the community.
“Joining Toastmasters will change your life” said Brian Scott, president of the new club. Brian was a member of Campbell River Toastmasters before moving to the North Island in June. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2011, where his favorite professor told him that joining Toastmasters was one of the best ways to advance his career and improve his confidence.
“When I attended my first Toastmasters meeting, I could not believe how comfortable and confident everyone appeared” said Scott.
He found the communication skills he had learned in Toastmasters helped him get over his own shyness and he realized that the best way that he could continue practicing these skills was to re-establish a club on the North Island.
“The club was established in September and has already had 21 different people attend the meetings,” said Scott. “There is lots of laughter and interesting stories provided at every meeting.”
Doak said that the previous incarnation of the club rarely drew more than five or six people. So what is the difference this time?
“Brian,” Doak said with a laugh. “He’s brought some new energy to the group. I believe ‘gung-ho’ would be the term.
“It takes 20 members to charter one of these groups, and that’s not an easy thing to accomplish in a town the size of Port Hardy.”
Originally intrigued by the communication opportunities, Scott found the greatest lessons from Toastmasters in the leadership experiences.
“You learn how to keep your audience engaged while you are speaking, which is something I think all leaders need,” he said.
Toastmasters is a non-profit organization that provides a supportive and positive environment in which members have the opportunity to improve their communication and leadership skills. Meetings can be compared to ‘learn by doing’ workshops in which members work through a variety of Communication and Leadership projects.
There is no instructor; instead, Toastmasters receive constructive feedback from their fellow members. It is a great place to build confidence and meet other people in the community.
“Watching my fellow members advance through the program and build confidence in such a short amount of time, is the most satisfying part about being in the organization,” Scott said. He has watched members in the Port Hardy club develop listening and critical thinking skills, leadership potential, self confidence, team building, and much more after only five meetings. He said the wide demographic of people attending meetings, each with their unique speaking styles and personal stories, makes meetings really enjoyable.
Meetings are held at North Island College each Wednesday at 7 p.m. The evenings are kept entertaining, positive and friendly. Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to attend as a guest.
To learn more about the Toastmasters program please contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 250-288-3664.