The gavel hits the podium at exactly 7 p.m. to announce the start of the Toastmasters meeting. Alan Cameron, the presiding officer, calls the meeting to order. He welcomes the guests and introduces the toastmaster of the day.
Toastmasters is an international organization that works to build the self-confidence of individuals as they improve their public speaking skills.
The organization has a San Marcos chapter that recently moved to Salt Grass Steakhouse from Central Texas Medical Center. The San Marcos Chamber of Commerce is recognizing the club’s move by holding a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:15 a.m. today.
Toastmasters moved locations so they could be closer to Texas State in hopes more students would join the club. Salt Grass Steakhouse has provided the club with a spacious room, holding three long tables and a podium. Guests will be welcomed with handshakes, smiles and refreshments on Tuesday nights.
Some official titles and roles are permanent, but the club members take turns with different jobs during each meeting. They have jobs such as Toastmaster of the day, who introduces a theme for all of the speakers and presents for the evening, and the general evaluator, who assesses the success and failures of the night, then presents their findings at the end of the meeting.
The club members are constantly taking on new roles to challenge their abilities. The stress of public speaking is removed because they work together as a team,.
“Most people are nervous and have sweaty palms when speaking,” Cameron said. “We create an environment of comfort here.”
The audience applauds every speaker and gives him or her words of encouragement, paired with ways to improve their skills.
“Growth and leadership, as well as speaking, is the goal of Toastmasters,” said Don Wilde, vice president of public relations.
Toastmasters is geared toward helping others in more areas than public speaking.
“It allows us to judge ourselves and see how others judge us,” Wilde said.
The meeting is full of energy, with constant activity and noise. Once the meeting is over, the group finds a table in the dinning area for food, drinks and conversation.
“We’re in a neighbor venue. We have fun, and there is a social after-burner involving food, alcohol and coffee,” Cameron said.
The group is open to guests and new members, and includes training seminars and competitions.
“It’s about coming in here and trying to improve yourself,” Cameron said. “It’s just amazing to feel the good energy of this club. There’s an opportunity to help everyone who walks in that door.”
The club meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday night at Salt Grass Steakhouse on Sessom Drive. Visit sanmarcosfreetoasthost.org for more information.