Give the gift of effective communication

Healthy Living

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By Carl Hendrickson, For the Call

This Christmas give someone a gift that will last a lifetime: the gift of effective communication.

Communications skills are essential throughout a lifetime. A baby attempts to imitate the sounds of the parents and older siblings. As we begin the long education road from preschool through college or trade school, we continually use our communication skills.

I appreciated the need for excellent communication skills first as an attorney and later as a candidate for public office and as a state representative. As a young attorney, I found Toastmasters and was able to improve my communication skills and overcome the fear of public speaking.

If you are searching for a forever gift for someone, I suggest looking into Toastmasters.

This is an international organization with clubs worldwide. There are several in the St. Louis area.

Toastmasters is a unique learning experience. One does not learn from books and lectures, but by doing.

You will learn how to think on your feet, how to prepare talks, how to give speeches, what your verbal strengths and weaknesses are, and how to improve. As a member of a Toastmaster club, you are assigned a mentor who will assist you on the road to becoming a better communicator.

A portion of a Toastmaster club meeting is set aside for extemporaneous speaking. A member is assigned as the leader and he or she asks questions of other members. They are not told the questions in advance. Each called upon member has to think on his or her feet and answer the question. This helps club members to think on their feet, a very important tool to have in a group meeting.

A new member, with the assistance of his or her assigned mentor, prepares and delivers speeches. Each speech is evaluated so the speaker knows his or her strengths and the areas of communication that needs to be improved upon.

Toastmasters is a learning experience that is fun. There are no formal tests, but you do learn what you must do to improve. And, all who join do improve if they put in the time and effort.

Give someone an important gift by introducing him or her to the Toastmaster website, www.Toastermasters.org, and suggest that they join a club. They will be eternally grateful.

Merry Christmas!