By Kathy Collins

If you would like the opportunity to gain confidence and learn to speak articulately and eloquently, then you should consider joining Toastmasters. Locally, the Breckenridge Toastmasters, a place “where leaders are made,” meets on the second and fourth Friday of each month. They meet at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, located at 330 Pauls Dr. in Brandon from 6:30-7:45 p.m.

According to Cate Baierlein with the Breckenridge Toastmasters, “We have an open door policy. There is no prerequisite to joining our club, and we welcome everyone to visit the club to determine whether it is a good fit.” If you decide to join, there is a short application process and once a member of the local club, you become a member of Toastmasters International.

Baierlein said, “Many people, including prominent public figures and movie stars, credit Toastmasters as the foundation to their success. The reasons people join are highly individualized. Our members achieve their personal and professional development goals because of the support we provide each other.”

Members of the club are encouraged to visit with other clubs. Many who visit are working to progress through the Toastmasters curriculum and speech manuals, and they earn recognition for their accomplishments. These include but are not limited to Competent Communicator, Advanced Communicator Bronze and Distinguished Toastmaster.

At the recent meeting of the Breckenridge Toastmasters club, their guest speaker was Mark Gai. He utilized the opportunity to speak before the club in order to perfect the delivery of a contest speech, “Speak Up.” Gai was preparing to have the speech delivered and judged at a conference.

Also at the meeting were several officials from Toastmasters District 48 which serves all of the West Coast of Florida Toastmasters Clubs and Chapters. Lynn Perry, the Club Growth Director for District 48 said, “Being a member of Toastmasters is like taking a master’s class in communications.”

Barrington Williams of Riverview is the president of the Breckenridge Toastmasters Club. Williams said, “I have been a member for 10 years, but I really got into it about three years ago. I wanted to fake it until I make it as a competent, outgoing and poetic speaker.”

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