The title says it all. I mean seriously, verbal communication is not an easy thing. It is super challenging to find words in your brain and make them come out of your mouth, in a sentence that has a subject, predicate, direct object, maybe some prepositions, and ends with a period. Never mind keeping your adjectives and adverbs straight. And! Let’s not forget the fact that we all have our own weird idiosyncrasies and neurotic mannerisms that get in the way of us being at our best when navigating interactions with other humans.

So, what to do about it? There’s certainly no single right answer to that question. But since this my article, I get to talk about whatever I want. Therefore, the right answer is: Toastmasters.

That’s right, los Maestros de la Tostada.

Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit organization, founded in 1924, that is focused on education and promoting skills in communication, public speaking, and leadership abilities. It operates through local clubs, including four right here in Billings. I have personally been a member at one of those clubs for six years, and in addition to meeting my fiancée through it (R.I.P. that bachelor life), my time in Toastmasters has taught me a plethora of skills that have been invaluable not only in professional settings but in my personal development as well.

What does this have to do with CASA? Well, remember, this is my article and I don’t have to explain myself to you. If I want to use this space to write a research paper on First Down Freddie’s legendary reception on 4th and 26 in the fourth quarter of the 2003 NFC divisional playoff against Green Bay, you can’t stop me.

Really, though, I believe this has so much to do with CASA. In my role as an ambassador for the organization, the practice I’ve had at Toastmasters meetings has aided me immensely in being able to articulate the work and importance of CASA of Yellowstone County to the community, including in front of large crowds or with television cameras zooming up my nostril. In my time as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate, Toastmasters helped me to beat the courtroom jitters, to communicate with thoughtfulness and diplomacy with other professionals (psych!), and to overall be a more effective voice for the children I served.

The four Toastmasters clubs in our area are:

Trailhead Toastmasters
Meets Mondays at 5:30pm
Rocky Mountain College, Morledge-Kimball Building, Room 119

Sunrisers Toastmasters
Meets Tuesdays at 6:30am
Lincoln Center, Room 111

Tower Toastmasters
Meets Tuesdays at 12:05pm
First Interstate Center (check in at information desk)

Club Med Toastmasters
Meets Fridays at 12:05pm
Billings Clinic, Fortin Health Conference Center, Room E

For anyone who sees an opportunity in their life to become a better communicator, public speaker, leader – or even a better Advocate – I encourage you to consider attending a Toastmasters meeting as a guest and see what you think. (I promise it’s not a cult.)

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for future topics I’ll be covering including:

via Giphy


Ben McKee is the Development Director for CASA of Yellowstone County.