Get involved: Toastmasters and Tabitha Pope

Tabitha Pope from disability services.  Photo from snu.edu

Tabitha Pope from disability services. Photo from snu.edu

Grace Williams, Business and Social Media Manager

We have a celebrity amongst us. Tabitha Pope, Disability Services Director, was in the top 90 in a worldwide speech competition hosted by Toastmasters. She even told her story of success on KSBI Channel 4. Pope won several smaller competitions starting from the club level up to the top competition.
“It was so much fun to meet everyone, be on T.V. and get an expenses paid trip to Cincinnati. Plus, I’ve gotten the chance to speak about my experience in a variety of different venues,” said Pope
Toastmasters is an organization that teaches leadership and speaking skills to anyone interested over the age of 18. It started in the basement of a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in California in 1924 when the YMCA director noticed that many of the men they served were not eloquent speakers. This organization expanded internationally and is made up of over 292,000 members in 14,000 clubs.
A typical club is made up of around 20 members that meet once a week for around an hour. Members pay dues around $38 per 6 weeks to purchase a manual; each manual has specific projects and activities to teach and improve skills. There are two tracks of skills that people can choose to focus on at one time: leadership or speaking. The leadership track focuses more on conducting meetings, organizing conferences, and the like. The speaking track focuses on impromptu and prepared speeches and elements of proper speaking techniques. All the members of the club help each other by providing constructive feedback and suggestions.
Pope joined toastmasters after taking the disability services director job at SNU.
“I realized that as a director I was going to have to start talking in front of large groups of students, parents and faculty members. I didn’t like speaking, I was afraid. Emmalyn German came to talk to me about disability services and mentioned that she was a part of toastmasters and got me involved.”
Pope now believes that everyone should get involved.
“The number one fear besides dying is public speaking but most of have to speak in public in our career. Toastmasters helps you be an effective and confident speaker, which calms your fears. It’s a great thing to put on your resume, especially since it is internationally known. Plus, whenever you complete a manual, Toastmasters will send a letter to your boss about the progress you’ve made. It shows that you are a go-getter and care about improving yourself beyond what is required. It is also a great way to improve your witness because it teaches you how to organize your thoughts in a logical and easy to understand manner as well as giving you the confidence to be bold.”
One of the local clubs: Conoma Toastmasters #454, which is Pope’s club, meets close to campus at Bill Merritt Funeral Service. It is within walking distance as it is north of sawyer, past Flat Tire at 6201 NW 39th Expressway. It meets each Thursday night from 6-7:30 p.m. Pope welcomes you to join her anytime. Email her at tpope@mail.snu.edu for information. You can find other club locations at http://reports.toastmasters.org/findaclub/.
“I would love for SNU students to get involved in Toastmasters. I would like to start a club onour campus like they have at OU, OSU, OCU, OK Christian and other colleges, but it would be really hard to sustain on our small campus given how busy students are. I think it would be cool if SNU students got involved in raising money for some of the Toastmasters clubs that meet in prisons. I want people to become better speakers.”
In order to join Toastmasters, interested people are encouraged to visit a club‘s weekly meeting once or twice, compare it with other nearby Toastmasters club options and decide which club is the best fit. Then, one will request an application for membership from the Vice President and pay the member dues of $20 and the bi-yearly dues to order the manual. From then on, one attends all the meetings they choose and manages their own progress through the manual.
“People are dying to get into our club, but really, it’s easy.” said Pope
Pope also found that the group is a great way to network and meet friends.
“Normally, I don’t like organized social groups, but this changed my perspective and gave me a good way to socialize with others while achieving personal growth. Joining Toastmasters is a win-win situation.”

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For more information, check out toastmasters.org or Conoma Toastmaster’s #454 club at their Facebook page.