By DENISE HERSCHEL
With more than 357,000 members in over 16,600 clubs in 143 countries, Toastmasters International has been offering individuals a way to practice and hone their communication and leadership skills for almost 100 years.
The organization grew out of a single club founded by Ralph Smedley in 1924 at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California. Since its inception, the non-profit educational organization has continued to grow domestically and internationally offering a supportive group environment where people with diverse skills and backgrounds can come together to practice their skills and exchange feedback.
Shore Speakers, a chartered club of Toastmasters International, moved to the Neptune area around 2005 and had been successfully gathering at the Neptune Public Library with dedicated, active members attending their meetings. They were 26 members strong before the pandemic and the group now has 11 active members as of this past February. But according to John Steinhilber, president of Shore Speakers Toastmasters, “we are now rebuilding the Shore Speakers Club with a goal to reach 20 members by June.”
“Our club is always looking for new members.Many live locally in the Neptune area,” he added.
Steinhilber, who has been a charter member of the Shore Speakers since they chartered in April 2000, said that people typically join Toastmasters for a variety of reasons.
“It is where they can improve and develop communication skills, professional and career skills, leadership skills, social skills, confidence and self-esteem. We are an organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Members of the Shore Speakers help each other to improve their skills through a great system that is provided by Toastmasters International. Our club provides an atmosphere that is friendly, comfortable, positive and supportive which helps members improve their skills,” he said.
The club’s regular meeting location is at the Neptune Public Library but the group has been temporarily meeting at the Neptune City Community Center until the library reopens again for evening meetings.
“We are now having hybrid (in-person or online) meetings. We are meeting in-person at the Community Center. I joined the group initially to gain confidence in speaking in front of a group of people. I found out that Toastmasters also helped improve my leadership skills, multi-tasking skills and working under time restraint pressure,” he said.
Steinhilber said he wished he had found Toastmasters when he was in college or starting his career.
It is free to visit the club at a Shore Speakers meeting to find out more about Toastmasters. The fee to join is billed annually and is prorated at the time the member joins. Toastmaster dues are $7.50 per month and a one-time fee of $20. Meetings are held every second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m at the Neptune City Community Center, 117 3rd Ave., Neptune City. The only restriction is that members must be 18-years-old to join the club. The group is hosting an open house Tues., April 26 at 6 p.m. at the Neptune City Community Center. Light refreshments will be available.
For more information about the Shore Speakers Toastmasters Club, Neptune chapter, contact John Steinhilber at 732-492-1302 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org