Peer to Peer

September 2009

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Page 87 of 91 88 Peer to Peer lESSOnS lEARnEd Maritta Terrell Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend PC tRaineR and helP desK sPecialist austin, tx number of attorneys: 38 number of offices: 1 M aritta Terrell, Trainer and Help Desk Specialist at Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend PC, like many of us, was doing a fine job, but she thought she could do better. She wanted new skills and a new comfort level in conveying information. Toastmasters helped Maritta organize and communicate her thoughts better through structured and unstructured exercises and a great deal of encouragement from her peers. Q: why did you join Toastmasters? a: One of the reasons I went to Toastmasters was for a professional goal. I was presenting to attorneys, and I felt I was not doing as good a job as I could. I was running on sentences. I was nervous, and you could hear it in my voice. Even when I knew what I was talking about, I didn't feel comfortable, especially when considering my position as a trainer in the firm. Toastmasters helped a great deal, especially on impromptu, get-up-and-say-something speaking. It's really helped with learning how to speak spontaneously. Q: How does the Toastmaster process help with spontaneous thinking and speaking? a: In the meetings, three prepared speeches are presented (you sign up beforehand so you know what you're going to say). Then they have "table topics." Each week a different person leads and asks a question on whatever topic he chooses. He's say something like, "Alright, Maritta, come up here and tell me what color I should have in my wedding?" And you have those 10-20 seconds while you walk to the head table to come up with a two-minute speech. One time, someone started with a story, and the next person had to continue on with that story and so on. It was really difficult because we had been given the ending of the story beforehand, and we had to figure out a way to get there. So we had to use our imaginations and prepare quickly. That really helps with spontaneous speaking. It really put us on the spot. Q: Isn't that a daunting experience? a: In Toastmasters, you're not put down. Your ego gets boosted. For example, one person in the class has been coming in six months. When he first arrived, he could barely stand before us to speak. Just last week, he gave a speech, and you could hardly hear the quaver in his voice anymore. He got a standing ovation. Q: Do you find that good communicators tend to be good leaders? a: As a good speaker, you're able to stand before one person (or a thousand people) and speak clearly on the topic; but to be a great communicator and leader, you must also be able to listen, not only with your ears. You have to listen by watching your audience members, by paying attention and focusing on what they're saying back to you so that you can respond properly to what they're really telling you. When you do that, when you understand where they're coming from through not only the words they use but also their ideas and body language, you're able to work with those people in a much more effective way. Toastmasters really helped me in all areas of my life, including how to communicate personally and professionally. It's incredible. ILTA About Toastmasters . . . Toastmasters workshops comprise approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants practice and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a speech, to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian. Toastmaster publications are used to guide speeches. Each speech is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right and what could be improved. Local listings for meetings can be found online. ILTA "Toastmasters really helped me in all areas of my life . . ."

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