Last updated: February 19. 2013 5:26PM - 615 Views

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Perhaps the term introvert doesn't necessarily apply to you: You fare well when talking to others one on one and aren't completely backward when it comes to social matters. But, for many, one thing stops them dead in their tracks: public speaking.

Palms get sweaty, stomachs start to hurt, and bright red begins to creep up necks. Many have been there, and while some may have outgrown the outright fear, plenty still clam up in front of any sort of group.

Enter the Toastmasters, a local group that formed in 2004 and has since helped members allay public-speaking fears and turn what was once a fear into an art.

When she went back to school at Misericordia, Jennifer Domzalski of Nanticoke was called upon to do a lot of presentations, forcing her to start coming out of her shell.

I was always shy when it came to speaking in public, the Toastmasters member said. I started to get a little better with the school presentations, and I just decided that I didn't want to lose that and instead build upon it, so I joined the club.

Five years later and Domzalski has not only attended many a Toastmaster conference at which she's spoken in front of hundreds, but she's also done extracurricular things, such as reading to children in the community, and has found she just feels more confident on the whole.

Fear is the biggest thing anyone walking into a Toastmasters meeting has to overcome.

It'll take someone between five to six speeches until that really starts to go away, Bruce Spencer of Forty Fort, a club member since 2005, said.

It's all about being comfortable in one's skin and learning the basics of public speaking to achieve that.

Members receive a manual that includes 10 speeches. While members get to choose whatever topic they would like for each speech, they must incorporate whatever skill is set forth for that particular speech, which could mean body language, how to close or open a speech, or vocal variety.

Several roles must be filled during a Toastmasters meeting, from speakers and their evaluators to the Ah-Master (who catches those pesky um and ah pauses) and Grammarian. Each member is ensured some sort of speaking role during a meeting, whether for a five- to seven-minute speech or 30 seconds of explaining what the day's topic is, Spencer said.

Though it might sound very structured (which it is), don't take that to mean all work and no play.

There is definitely work involved, but many people think this is like a classroom setting, and it's not, Domzalski said. You don't get a book and sit down and read from it. It's fun.

What all members come out with from the experience is a different perspective on public speaking.

It's not even that you don't see the people in the audience; it's that they're not looking through you anymore, Spencer said. You realize they're looking for what you're going to say so you're not up there worried as much about what you look like but rather what you're speaking about.


What: Toastmasters meeting

Where: Sundance Vacations, 264 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre,

When: First and third Tuesday of month

More info: Bruce at 338-2194

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