Toastmasters foster leadership

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Spangdahlem chapter of the Toastmasters International organization is open to anyone interested in joining.

The Saber Toastmasters is a public-speaking forum that promotes all facets of communication and leadership.

"This is a place where leaders are made," said Tech. Sgt. Justin Valiente, Saber Toastmaster vice president from Phoenix. "We take an active role in the deliberate development of the members of the organization. You can be a part of the organization at so many levels, be it member, visitor or leader, and each provides different levels of responsibility to challenge the person to grow."

The way it works is that scheduled speakers are given a topic and timeframe. Sometimes, they have time to prepare while other times their speeches are impromptu. There is no instructor; instead, members evaluate one another's presentations. This feedback process is designed to make the speakers better at their presentations.

The intent of the group is to encourage the development of presentation skills and leadership abilities in the Eifel community, said Tech. Sgt. Idris Royal, Saber Toastmaster president Memphis, Tenn. It does so by promoting self-improvement progress checks, which aid in instilling confidence to excel and succeed in all aspects of communication.

"You don't just sit around and talk," Royal said. "Everyone has a goal to improve some aspect of their communication. You can network, socialize with people who have the same goals as you, get out of your comfort zone and really develop professionally."

Upon joining, the member receives a communication manual that includes a progress map. Completing a task or project is recorded, and when finished with the initial volume, members can advance to a more difficult or challenging manual. Achieving some tasks makes the member eligible for a communicator awards.

"Measureable self improvement, professional growth and the ability to help others do the same," Valiente said. "I can't think of another group that does it better than ours."

Junior Airmen are not excluded from communication, Valiente said, but the longer a person stays in the military, the more important communication becomes. Senior Air Force leaders possess the ability to speak and grab the attention of diverse audiences, and the delivery of their message is key in ensuring widest dissemination.

The Saber Toastmasters is still relatively new, as Toastmasters International officially recognized the group in January this year. The executive council is currently developing the organization to establish a personalized identity with localized meeting procedures. The desired effect is a no-pressure atmosphere where visitors may feel comfortable to speak for the first time in front of the group. As of now, the members do not wear uniforms, rank is not identified and everyone uses first names.

The organization meets the first and third Wednesday of every month in the Spangdahlem Conference Room behind Kuhl Beans. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and normally lasts no longer than an hour. Attendance is free, but membership dues are $36 for six months with an initial $20 processing fee. The fee covers the cost of the progression manuals.