By Julie Reents / Staff Writer
For many students at Raritan Valley Community College, having to make a presentation in front of a class or expressing an idea to a group of colleagues is a nerve wracking problem.
But Toastmasters International—a nonprofit organization that helps its members improve their public speaking, communication and leadership skills—may be the solution.
For this reason, RVCC’s Engineering Club introduced the Hunterdon Speak Easy Club of Toastmasters International at “Toastmasters @ RVCC” Monday Nov. 24.
The event was carried out the like a typical Speak Easy Club meeting. Members explained how Toastmasters works and then the audience was given the chance to speak for two minutes about any given topic, such as an interesting event in their life or their favorite food.
The members of the chapter then gave feedback and tips to the speakers. Although seemingly daunting, the activity is meant to put people at ease and be themselves while developing public speaking skills.
Michael Sipos, the Project Manager and SGA Rep of the Engineering Club and member of the Speak Easy Club, says public speaking is important for engineers. "Engineers tend to be introverted and have poor communication skills," Sipos said.
Sipos said employers for engineers look for communication skills, the ability to make a professional presentation and the ability to engage and contribute to a team. Engineers also have to be able to take technical engineering language and present that information to a non-engineer.
Sipos describes meetings as a non-pressure club, and a person’s communication skills will naturally improve through participation.
Sipos is considering setting up a Toastmasters chapter at RVCC next semester but has to meet certain criteria such as a minimum number of members. According to Russell Barefoot, Director of Student Life, Student Life requires a student club or organization have 10 members to start. However, he was told by a member of Toastmasters that the organization requires at least 20 members to start a chapter.
The Hunterdon Chapter Speak Easy Club meets the second and fourth Monday of each month from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m, at the Hunterdon Medical Center in the auditorium.