Shawn Cunningham, Owner & Director of Sales, Cunningham Group, RE/MAX Advantage
2014 was a great year for me, and my business. One of the big reasons why was Vegas Young Professionals Toastmasters.
A little background — I made the decision to join Toastmasters in 2013, and it took me six months to actually attend a meeting. I never had a real public speaking fear, though I’m not particularly good at it. My issues were more with interconnecting with strangers in a group environment. This is ironic, as I meet strangers one-on-one or one-on-two for a living, but in groups, it’s tougher for me. I also have struggled for years to finda solution to a big problem for young professionals in a town like Las Vegas: a way to meet other people like me that doesn’t involve hanging out at a bar.
It’s a 25-minute drive for me from Henderson, but it’s a no-brainer to come to every meeting downtown. Regardless of any fears, logistics or time, the people that attend our meetings make attending a no-brainer. We have such an eclectic and high-level group of people, it’s really the first,second and third reason to attend Toastmasters beyond growing as a public speaker.
Our Vegas Young Professionals chapter is in Downtown Las Vegas – at The Smith Center. What a cool place to be. There are dozens of Toastmasters chapters. Ours is somewhat unique in terms of its youth and a more free wheeling nature (relatively speaking). We have everyone from startup entrepreneurs to those climbing the corporate ladder to powerhouse speakers and all in between. Why should you come? Maybe it’s an abject fear of public speaking. We certainly have help for that. Maybe you want to connect with other people like you and want to do it in a high level setting? Maybe you need to practice a pitch in front of a group of peers and get real feedback from an attentive audience.
Speaking of feedback, it’s the bedrock of Toastmasters. Every speaker gets it. The whole meeting itself gets feedback at the end. We don’t believe in pats on the back for the sake of being nice, but a pat on the back and a push forward, to be better.
A quick window into what happens: our Toastmasters meetings always begin with an introduction for all guests and members (only members can be a speaker, outside the introductions and at the end of the meeting), followed by explanation of roles and Table Topics (a fun impromptu speaking session), usually three prepared speeches (the meat of the meeting), peer evaluations of the speakers, and an evaluation of the meeting itself. Sometimes after the meetings a group might go hang out downtown, though that’s completely informal.
If you want to make 2015 a year to get better and meet more fellow professionals, come join us at a meeting. The 2nd and 4th Monday of each month at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce at The Smith Center.
Visit vyp.toastmastersclubs.org for more information.