Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

Fighting Fears with Toastmasters International

Author: Ideas with Impact

Posted on Jun 6, 2016

Category: Programs , Students

Do you suffer from glossophobia, the fear of public speaking? If you do, you're not alone. It's ranked among the top fears of people all over the world, along with the fear of spiders, snakes and even death. Though fear of public speaking is common, it’s something people aiming for leadership roles have to overcome. Thanks to a Toastmasters Duncan McCormick (centre) receives the Speechcraft certificate from then Mayor of Fredericton Brad Woodside (L) and Toastmasters International President Jim Kokocki (R).International program introduced into the MBA professional development class this year, students in UNB Fredericton’s MBA program not only got over their fear of public speaking, most of them learned to like it.

How to Speak like a Professional

Students participated in eight sessions throughout the past academic year that helped them learn to speak like professionals. Those who completed all the requirements received Certificates of Completion for the Toastmasters International Speechcraft program. The sessions taught students how to plan and deliver professional speeches by focusing on such things as organizing speeches, getting to the point, using body language, and even introducing speakers.

The Speechcraft sessions were led by local business people who are members of the Fredericton Mid Day Toastmasters Club, including Carol Ann Hanley (Ann Carol Enterprises), Jeremy DeMerchant (Permission to Sell), Kelly Richard (Kelly A. Richard Booking) and Glenn Cleland (University of New Brunswick).  Each session provided ample opportunities for students to polish their speaking skills because, in addition to delivering a speech, they had to introduce each other, and give impromptu speeches. They also benefited from getting feedback from each other and from their coaches with Toastmasters.

Speechcraft Works!

Several students were apprehensive about the program in the beginning, but by the end of the year most of them were happy they completed it.  

“In the first session I was out of my element. I had a hard time thinking on the spot and doubted whether or not I would see any improvement,” said Duncan McCormick. “As someone who is currently employed in sales, I know how important these skills are. The Speechcraft program really helped me improve.”

At the end of the term, the students showcased their speaking abilities by inviting faculty and staff to hear a sampling of their speeches. The class selected classmates to demonstrate the speech that was the best organized, had the best use of humour, best vocal variety and best display of body language.

The president of Toastmasters International, Jim Kokocki, attended and presented the Certificates of completion. Then mayor of Fredericton Brad Woodside, who is a top award-winning member of Toastmasters International, spoke to the group about how public speaking skills have helped him throughout his career.

“The knowledge and confidence I gained from these sessions will come in handy,” said Stephanie Edgal. “I am an entrepreneur and often have to give elevator pitches, defend proposals and search for sponsors. I believe I will be able to do all these better now that my pubic speaking skills have improved.”

Not all students were apprehensive of having to speak in public so often this year. Mary Kate Pond likes having to speak in public, but still thought the Speechcraft sessions were valuable because they helped her refine her speaking skills and she is now able to include the certificate on her resume.  “That is something that will stand out to employers,” she said.

The Speechcraft program was part of the professional development class through a partnership with the Fredericton Mid Day Toastmasters Club. The club meets during lunch on the first and third Tuesday of every month at Planet Hatch and its membership includes local business people and UNB students.

For more information contact Liz Lemon-Mitchell

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