If you would rather stab needles in your eyes than talk in front of a crowd, Toastmasters International is for you. Since its launch in 2000, the public speaking group has held 750 meetings.
The oldest member of the Bangkok Capitol Toastmaster club, Tim Cornwall, Sasin Graduate School’s Management English Program, explains why the club is still so popular.
“We wanted to start a club that was more international and more demanding,” Cornwall said. “It’s a great way to get to meet interesting people in Bangkok away from the bar scene.”
“People are going to Toastmaster because It’s fun, and they learn. If it’s only fun, then the club will die. And if it’s too serious, the club will die. So, we have a very good mix right now.”
The club says it has doubled in size during the past three years to 71 active members.
“I always told everyone that even if you come by yourself. If you wait to find somebody who’s interested in the same thing, you could end up never coming. If you come, you will find other people, who are interested in the same thing as you do,” he said.
Newcomers will be given “the manual”, which comprises of different speech projects. Each project focuses on a different area of speaking, e.g. Project 2—Organise Your Speech, Project 5—Body Language, Project 10—Inspire Your Audience. Each type of speech is checked off in the manual when it is successfully accomplished.
Newbies must also deliver a speech about themselves.
Fiesta Xie, a new member of the club, said she didn’t have much opportunity to speak English when she moved to Bangkok, so joining was a great chance to use her English. Her first speech was entitled “A little piece of my adventure.”
“For the last decade, the most frequent question I was asked by my friends was ‘Fiesta, where are you now? In the past 9 years I have been moved across China, Thailand, United States, Singapore and then back to Thailand,” Fiesta said in her speech.
“I had to choose between the passionate career all over the world or a stable family life in Bangkok. Knowing that it’s gonna be quite the real judgement in the culture, I still picked the later.”
Harvard Lillethun, the president of the club, said his biggest challenge is to make sure everyone gets the chance to speak.
“They know that they can have the audience who will encourage them and they can be in front of people who will give you support.” said Harvard.
Because of the popularity of Capitol Toastmasters, an extra meeting is now held every second Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm along with the Tuesday meeting.
Bangkok Capitol Toastmaster club has 20 nationalities trying to improve their public speaking skills.
2/F, Grand Sheraton Hotel
BTS Asoke (Exit 5)