WSU Vancouver’s Salmon Speakers compete for Toastmasters International

On Oct. 24 Washington State University Vancouver hosted a district-wide Toastmasters competition. A wide variety of people attended the event, ranging from actual members, to the general public, and even several governors from different districts. There was a reception beforehand where everyone was able to help themselves to refreshments.

The two competitions that took place during the event were the humorous and table-topic speeches. A humorous speech is where the contestants utilize their public speaking skills in order to portray a comedic story to the audience; eight people participated in that competition. The seven contestants for the table-topic speeches were given their topics on the spot, and spoke about their assigned topic for approximately two minutes. The second place winner of the table-topics competition was Elena Mahrt, a member of WSU Vancouver’s Toastmasters club. She will then move on to the district competition if first place winner, Dennis Hills, cannot or chooses not to attend. These competitions usually begin with the individual clubs, and then branch out to a district competition.

Ralph Smedley established Toastmasters International in 1924 with its first branch at the YMCA in Santa Ana, Calif. Since then the club has grown steadily, and now has over 14,650 individual branches in 126 countries. One such branch is WSU Vancouver’s Salmon Speakers.

Megan Slaker, president of Salmon Speakers, described the Toastmasters as a club about, “improving communication skills and leadership skills for everyone that joins,” said. According to Slaker, Allison Coffin, a neuroscience professor at WSU Vancouver, laid the groundwork for Salmon Speakers, wanting a Toastmasters club for a younger audience. Coffin has been a Toastmasters member for years, and wanted to give WSU Vancouver students more opportunities to practice public speaking. From there, 20 charter members were then sought, since that is the membership requirement to be considered an official club by Toastmasters International.

Slaker went on to discuss the importance of the club, saying “whatever you do, you’re going to talk to people,” emphasizing that no matter what occupation you chose to pursue, it helps to know how to communicate with other people. Slaker also mentioned that being an official member of Toastmasters looks very good on a resume.

Salmon Speakers meets every Monday around 7 p.m. (except holidays) at the Salmon Creek Burgerville. There is a $7 monthly membership, $6 for membership dues to Toastmasters International and $1 for Salmon Speakers so they can purchase supplies such as badges and pens. Salmon Speaker members pay in six-month increments of $42 every six months rather than pay from month-to-month. Slaker is prideful of the club, “We are always having fun during our meetings, always laughing.”

Students interested in the Salmon Speakers can visit their website at www.salmoncreektoastmasters.org, and those wanting to learn more about Toastmasters International can view their website at toastmasters.org.

Photo features WSU Vancouver Salmon Speakers

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