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New club toasts speaking skills

March 6, 2003

By Elizabeth Alden

Baylor Orators, a branch of Toastmasters International, is a new club at Baylor that offers an encouraging environment for faculty and staff to develop speaking and leadership skills.

Carla Gibbs, an administrative associate and area governor of Toastmasters, said she tried for two years to bring the club to Baylor. Gibbs attributes the club's approval to Baylor 2012.

'The No. 1 imperative of the [Baylor] 2012 vision is communication skills,' he said.

A survey was distributed to faculty and staff members asking what the greatest need was at Baylor. Gibbs said the No. 1 answer was better presentation skills.

Richard Amos, assistant vice president and director of compensation and benefits at Baylor, said the club meets at noon every Friday in Clifton Robinson Tower.

'The club is designed to sharpen community and leadership skills,' he said. 'We focus on the correct use of grammar, use of voice and use of hands. It's a very practical program.'

Gibbs has been a member of Toastmasters in Waco for three years. She said she joined to get over her fear of speaking in front of large groups.

'I feared public speaking over death,' Gibbs said. 'I found the club to be a safe place with people who support you.'

Donna Price, an administrative associate in university development and secretary of Baylor Orators, said she is a member because she wants to improve her speaking skills and gain experience.

'I'm doing this for my own professional development as I move forward in my Baylor career,' Price said.

At each meeting, Gibbs said everyone is assigned a role. Usually two to three speeches are performed at each meeting.

The members who aren't speaking that day also play a role, such as joke master or grammarian. Gibbs said there is a job for everyone, and they rotate each week.

Amos said each meeting is like a game.

'You've got to be on your toes all the time,' he said.

Gibbs said members must present prepared speeches during the year. The program is designed to enhance all areas of presentation.

'Each speech focuses on a specific skill,' Gibbs said. 'Some of them concentrate on vocal variety, organization, inspiring the audience and speaking with sincerity. They all build off each other.'

Gibbs said her involvement in Toastmasters has made her more confident.

'I'm not even the same person anymore,' Gibbs said. 'It's a phenomenal organization that changed my life.'