Each year, thousands of people in countries around the world compete in the public-speaking competitions put on by Toastmasters International. The non-profit organization aims to educate members and provide them with training in how to become effective public speakers, with additional focus on leadership skills. Madison County also has its own chapter of Toastmasters, and this Monday evening, that group will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The Toastmasters will gather at King Buffet in Richmond on Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

"The event is open to the public; however, space is limited to the size of the banquet room (the first 40 attendees)," Krista Kimmel, a member of Madison County Toastmasters Club, said.

Kimmel said she's been involved with the local Toastmasters since December 2018. She has found numerous benefits in participation in the organization.

"I teach communication at EKU, but I don't often get the chance to build my own formal presentational skills," she said. "I have also gained leadership skills and the opportunity to network with professionals in the Richmond area."

The Toastmasters welcome new members at any point during the year.

"Anyone interested in joining is invited to attend one or more of our meetings as a guest," Kimmel explained. "Should a person decide to join, he or she would complete a membership application, pay membership dues, and enroll in our online education system, Pathways."

Madison County Toastmasters Club was founded in 1979. Currently, the Madison County Toastmasters Club has 11 members, plus a handful of guests that attend each meeting, Kimmel said. Meeting times are the first and third Mondays of every month, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Typically meetings take place at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Community Room.

According to toastmasters.org, the organization has more than 358,000 members internationally. Some of the speaking categories one might compete in for a Toastmasters competition include: Humorous, Evaluation, Tall Tales, Table Topics, and International speech contests.

Kimmel noted that at the 40th anniversary celebration, Ron House, an original founding member, will give a bit of an oral history of the club.

"We'll also present the Communicator of the Year award, given to a non-member who has made a positive impact on the community, to Jane Stephenson," she said. "Jane is the founder of the New Opportunity School for Women in Berea."

Kimmel said they'll present a few club awards, as well.

For anyone considering adding Toastmasters to their schedule as a way to practice leadership and public speaking skills, this event is a good opportunity to give it a trial run.

"They will get a glimpse of what a Toastmasters meeting is like," Kimmel said.

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