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Toastmasters challenges professionals
Speech club helps in getting the job
Toastmasters International was started with a small California club in the 1920s. There are now more than 12,500 clubs in more than 105 countries. - photo by Submitted
At a glance

The Community Voice Toastmasters Club in Forsyth County meets at 6:45 p.m. every Monday. Meetings are held either at the Sharon Forks library or Northside Hospital-Forsyth. For meeting location and more information, go online at
Two years ago, Mike Bowler made a New Year’s resolution to work on his public speaking skills.

Now, he is president of the Community Voice Toastmasters Club in Forsyth County.  

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but I kept putting it off,” he said. “I came to a couple of meetings and I enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting and challenging, so I decided to join and I’ve really gotten a lot out of it.”

Toastmasters International was started with a small California club in the 1920s. There are now more than 12,500 clubs in more than 105 countries, including Bowler’s club, which meets every Monday.

The clubs help members become more competent and comfortable speaking in front of an audience.

Meetings follow a set format, which begins with social time before diving into speeches, which range from four to seven minutes. There is also a
“table topics” time, where people answer a question in about a minute or two and other members vote on the best speaker.

“After a speaker gives a speech, another member of the club will evaluate the speaker,” said Bowler. “So not only does it help you give speeches, but it also helps you learn to listen and evaluate speakers. You learn as much by listening as you do by doing.”

Member Arnold Murray has lived in the county for about a decade. He joined the club last year to improve his presentation skills, and has been “delighted by the diversity of the club, which improves the quality of feedback we receive regarding our communication skills.”

“I have been able to use the skills learned from the club in my work as a facilitator at a Fortune 500 company,” said Murray, who will compete at the division level for the club’s international speech contest, having won both the club and area levels.

For member Phil Calvert, the club has provided a good support system.

“My fellow members are extremely helpful and supportive,” he said. “In an increasingly competitive job market, the quality of your presentation skills can make the difference in getting the job you want.”

The Forsyth club meets at the Sharon Forks library and the 1400 Building of Northside Hospital-Forsyth.

Though Bowling works in the insurance industry, he said there are “people from all different kinds of professions and even students.”

“We have a lot of different nationalities too. It’s a mixed bag,” he said. “It’s just given me a lot more confidence in my day-to-day conversations with people that I meet and people I work with. It’s also helped me to give better presentations at work and improved my communication skills and my listening skills.”