Aloha Toastmasters celebrate 60 years of talking-story tradition

The officers of the Aloha Toastmasters carry on a 60-year tradition in Hawai'i.

The officers of the Aloha Toastmasters carry on a 60-year tradition in Hawai'i.

For 60 years, the Aloha Toastmasters club has been bringing wit, sass, and aptitude to being the center of attention.

To clear things up, no, they don't make toasters.

As an international organization, the Toastmasters have acted as an outlet for people in a variety of professions, arts, and cultures in order to perfect the craft of speech-making.

"A lot of things in life have to deal with selling an idea or convincing people about an idea of sorts," says Chris Villanueva, president of Toastmasters club 601. "Imagine if you were able to convey your idea in a clear, concise, and convincing manner. Communicating is very important in everyday life."

With over 235,000 members across 92 countries, Toastmasters have produced skilled speakers who are competent and comfortable in front of an audience and effective at leadership.

Hawai'i Gov. Linda Lingle was herself a member of a Toastmasters club on Maui.

Villanueva, who works as an account executive for Copiers Hawai'i, attributes his experience with Toastmasters to improving his salesmanship.

"Situations like job interviews, sales presentations, or even speaking with loved ones most often times involves impromptu speaking."

"I've become more aware of my verbal miscues—my use of 'um' to fill space in my presentations," Villanueva says. "Situations like job interviews, sales presentations, or even speaking with loved ones most often times involves impromptu speaking."

Aside from the Aloha Toastmasters, there are over 60 separate organizations on O'ahu.

Toastmasters clubs meet throughout the island in libraries, office buildings, homes, and schools—each offering their own individual flavor.

Whether you prefer a larger group setting, a formal atmosphere, or hanging out at someone's house, there's a Toastmasters club for virtually all preferences, explains Aloha Toastmasters member Michelle Kogure.

A typical Toastmasters meeting will involve an icebreaker, individual speeches, and table topics—think freestyle talking. For regular members, a marble is dropped into a glass cup to keep them aware and on their toes should an "ah," "um," or "so yeah" subconsciously slip in to fill a dead space.

Villanueva hopes to continue a long-standing tradition of communicating ideas in a way that is welcoming to newcomers and continually educational for members.

"This club has so much history and I would like to keep it going," he says. "As club president, I want to provide a safe meeting place for members to practice their speaking abilities and develop their leadership potential."

The Aloha Toastmasters meet every second and fourth Thursday at 7 p.m. at University Square, 2615 S. King Street, Suite 211. E-mail [email protected] to check it out.

For more information and to find a Toastmasters club nearest you, visit www.district49.org and the Toastmasters International website.

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