Sunday, February 06, 2011

If a king can do it why can't I

THE United Nations chiefs who apparently have the mandate to declare "international year of ..." status have backed a treble for 2011: chemistry; forests; and people of African descent.
However, they could have landed a quadrella if they had read some movie reviews. The King's Speech, which tells how a down-to-earth Aussie helped George VI deal with a stammer, seems to have everybody talking.
It's international, promoted with the words of an insightful critic as "a film to make your spirits soar" and charging toward multiple-Oscar glory in '2011 – the Year of Beating Speaking Difficulties'.
If a king can suffer so terribly from such communication seizures and overcome them through empathetic support, anyone can.

THE story's base in actual history gives extra weight of inspiration for those who suffer speech problems of any classification and those who work either professionally or voluntarily to help them.
Redland Toastmasters' recent Classified notice invited readers to "face your fear"; it promoted a special eight-week program.
Toastmasters International describes itself as a not-for-profit training organisation that focuses on communication and leadership development. The movement was founded in the US in 1924, coincidentally during the reign of old George.
It aims to help men and women "learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinking; vital skills that promote self-actualisation, enhance leadership potential, foster human understanding, and contribute to the betterment of mankind".

SIXTEEN years ago, a Mackay teacher on a break from the classroom joined Toastmasters. She was good at addressing her pupils but was going into a business and wanted to improve her speechcraft and gain some "intellectual satisfaction" in a club-type interest away from the sport and drinking scenes.
Jill Nixon, now of Cleveland, says she has seen many heart-warming and amazing successes as members have blossomed from tongue-tied, foot-shuffling mumblers with shaking knees and sweating palms to confident speakers who inform and entertain with clarity.
"There's usually a trigger of some sort: a daughter getting married and the father needs to make a speech; maybe a job interview," she says.
She recalls a tradesman who, when put 'on the spot', struggled to even say his name and discuss his pet interest of soccer, but he left Toastmasters as a good public speaker: loud, clear and with the ability to think on his feet and say what he needed to.

THE group is based on peer support and constructive criticism. Members even count the 'ums and ahs' for each other to work on bad habits.
Jill has already seen The King's Speech twice and probably will return before the season ends.
Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising.

This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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