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Fairchild Toastmasters expands community presence

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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The Fairchild Toastmasters has expanded its presence beyond Fairchild Air Force Base and into the city of Airway Heights.

The club, which began in 2014, has re-launched as a community club open to military and nonmilitary residents of Airway Heights. The Toastmasters meet on the second and fourth Fridays of every month from noon -1 p.m. at the Airway Heights Library.

The club is a part of Toastmasters international, a supportive and positive learning group that officially began in 1924. According to the Toastmasters International website, the organization helps members "develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth."

Ed Newman, club growth director for District 9, said the Fairchild branch started with a "strong core group" that included 2-3 captains, half a dozen officers, a couple of chiefs and airmen. The club's membership struggled because of what Newman called "Air Force life," with members moving away from the base.

"When a club drops below 12 members, we'll work with that club's officers," Newman said. "We don't let a club struggle; we do what we can to help."

Newman said he encouraged the club to move its meetings off the base and open membership to Airway Heights residents.

"We think the community will keep it going," Newman said.

Newman said Toastmasters meetings begin with two speakers who will give prepared speeches.

One of the club members will receive a manual from the speaker at the beginning of the meeting. The individual acts as an evaluator, who observes the speakers and gives feedback on their speech based on the criteria in the evaluation manual. The other audience members will also give notes to the speakers.

After the speeches and evaluations are finished, the club gets into the "table topics" portion of the meeting.

One club member, designated as "topicsmaster" will select a subject, point to other dub members and ask their opinions oh it. This is to help club members organize and express their thoughts in an impromptu setting.

Newman said topics can range from current events to favorite colors.

"We try to stay out of politics and religion for obvious reasons," Newman added.

Club members will also be asked to select someone for the "Best Table Topics Speaker Award" for the meeting.

Other roles members take at meetings include a grammarian, who monitors every speaker for grammar usage and presents a report at the end of the meeting. The grammarian may also introduce new words to help increase dub members' vocabulary.

There is also an "ah-counter," who counts the filler words — "and, but, so, you know, ah and um" — and presents a report during the meeting's evaluation period.

"We evaluate what goes on in the meeting," Newman said. "How else do we learn?"

Club members also learn about the importance of maintaining eye contact while speaking, as well as hand motions, floor movement, vocal contact, body language and pausing.

"Everything we do, there is a reason behind it, just like the evaluations," Newman said.

Dues are $36 annually. New members pay an additional $20 fee.

Fairchild is not the only branch of the Toastmasters on the West Plains.

Newman works with the Eastern Washington University's Toastmasters. He said the club's membership declines during the summer when students go home for the break. He is working with EWU to allow university faculty and Cheney residents to join the dub's ranks.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.



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Original Publication Date: July 14, 2016



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