Top of Troy Toastmasters Club foster leadership, communication skills

By: Sarah Wright | Troy Times | Published June 19, 2024

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TROY — At a recent Top of Troy Toastmasters Club meeting, one of the scheduled speakers was Sherri Rushman, who talked about her book, “Catching Hope: Hope Givers, Hope Receivers, and Hope Stealers.”

The book covers Rushman’s struggles with mental health issues and explores the concept of hope and how it can be utilized in overcoming challenges.

“Sometimes people can be going through something you don’t know about. My dream to publish ‘Catching Hope’ started in 2011, and my son helped me self publish the book,” Rushman said. “This book has been asked to be written since 2003, and I’m very happy a lot of people asked me to publish this book. … My book is full of hope, and I’m glad that I was able to finish it.”

The Top of Troy Toastmasters Club provides members and guests opportunities to improve their public speaking and communication skills and build confidence in different professional settings.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit organization that provides educational programming aimed at addressing communication and leadership skills. Since 1924, Toastmasters has grown to have over 14,000 clubs around the world, with membership exceeding 280,000.

The Top of Troy Toastmasters Club was founded in 2006, and their meetings consist of members giving prepared and impromptu speeches, usually related to a planned meeting topic, and later receiving feedback on the strengths and areas of improvement of their speeches from a club member who is assigned to be an evaluator.

“We eventually moved to the library, and it’s been easier for people to come to meetings,” Top of Troy Toastmasters Club Joyce Wiazowski said. “Adults have to be 18 or older to join, and we usually get people in business fields, though we have a lot of retirees interested in this club.”

Attendees generally use the skills they learn from the club in their professional lives, usually related to work presentations, and some members are referred to the club by their bosses.

One of the members, Quinn Counseller, from Neuroplastic Rehab, found out about the club from one of her bosses and was impressed with the description of the group.

“They’ve given me great advice, and I’ve felt more confident,” Counseller said. “I’ve invited my husband and told a couple friends from Lansing about the club. They’re looking around for a club in their area, and there are so many in Michigan.”

The club meetings are held noon-1 p.m. Wednesdays at the Troy Public Library.

The main theme for the May 29 meeting was related to computers and technology, which allowed for the Toastmaster, or emcee, of the meeting, Dave Goodenough, to use the theme for speech opportunities. Goodenough’s interest in technology started at an early age and later led to him owning and working as the IT management team leader for InsideOut Networking in Troy, which specializes in remote, walk-in and on-site IT support for residential and business clients.

“I didn’t experience computers too much until I was 5 or 6 and my family received a computer from my uncle,” Goodenough said. “I played around with it and tinkered with it and even broke it once.”

The discussion around computers and technology continued with Table Topics, where volunteers were asked questions related to the meeting theme and gave answers within a short period of time. After that, those who spoke during the meeting received evaluations based on their speech patterns, word use and physical presence while they spoke.

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