Rialto Toastmasters Face Off
By Dianne Anderson
Break out in a cold sweat? Want to slap someone for no good reason?
You’re not alone.
Different people respond to the thought of public speaking in different ways, with fear of public speaking right up there with fear of a tax audit.
“That is absolutely correct, that is how some people feel,” said Sheila Umbaji Futch, a member of Vernon Bragg Jr. Rialto Toastmasters Club.
When Futch first started with the club, even the thought of public speaking made her literally sick to her stomach, until she was chosen by her mentor, Assemblymember Amina Carter, to be her representative at functions in the community.
That experience got her out of her shell, but she admits at times she still gets the jitters. Continuing to facilitate and attend Toastmaster meetings keeps her on her toes.
On Feb 23, the community is invited out for fun and refreshments, and glean the gift of gab from the pros at the local Toastmaster International Speech and Speech Evaluation Contest. Registration and refreshments served at the Bob Murphy Community School located at 149 N. Arrowhead Ave. in Rialto starts at 8:00 a.m.
One key they teach beginning speakers is to talk about things they know and love. They also follow the club founder’s mantra, the late Vernon Braggs, Jr., on how to keep the butterflies under control.
“He’d say everybody has butterflies. You just have to learn to keep them in formation when you get up to speak, and speak about something close to your heart,” Futch said. “We just have to organize our thoughts.”
Mr. Bragg Jr. had a 23-year career with the Air Force as Master Sergeant, First Sergeant, and also cleared to serve in an intelligence unit. He was a businessman, and also a member of the Rialto Kiwanis Club, Inland Behavioral Services, the Black Culture Foundation, as well as many others.
Futch said that his memory is even more special because they were both stationed at the same air base 20 years apart, and they both spoke Turkish.
“We had that in common, and I spoke on “Where in the world is Turkey.? It was so easy for me to do it,” she said. “I just needed a couple of note cards.”
Over the years, the club has hosted radio personalities that would come out to practice their speeches on club members. She said there is also a variety of educational manuals to help speakers get a handle on topics, debates, and how to participate on panels.
It’s all about developing technique, and getting friendly advice on how to deal with those pesky, distracting verbal crutches to fill empty space, like, “You know, you know,” or “like, like,” and “ahhhhh’s,” she said.
“It’s really a learning experience. What I like about toastmaster’s is that it builds confidence. You get immediate feedback,” she said.
Toastmasters meets Tuesday from 7- 8:15 a.m. at the Rialto Fire Station #202 located at 1700 N. Riverside Ave., Rialto. In more recent years, the New Beginnings Vernon Bragg Jr. Toastmaster’s Club, meets twice a month on the second and fourth Thursday at 6:30 p.m at the Johnson Center, 214 N Palm Ave, Rialto.
Both clubs are always open and welcome to anyone that would like to learn to sharpen their presentation skills. For those that would like to sit silent, they can watch, listen and learn.
“It is a friendly environment, there is no pressure to join,” she said. “They can come as guests and observe, and don’t have to get up to speak. A lot of us started out that way.”