Presentation of the Triton Toastmasters charter at UMSL

UMSL Chancellor Tom George (left) and Ron Gossen, founding president of Triton Toastmasters, show off the club’s charter that was presented by Sandy Kardis, of District 8 Toastmasters, and John Barry, Triton Toastmasters club mentor. (Photo by August Jennewein)

With the presentation of the club charter Wednesday to University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Tom George, the Triton Toastmasters became an official Toastmasters International club. Sandy Kardis, vice president of District 8 Toastmasters in Eastern Missouri and Southwestern Illinois, also honored the original 20 charter members of the campus-based club, which first met in May. The club has since then grown to 28.

“This is a very auspicious occasion for UMSL,” says Ron Gossen, founding president of Triton Toastmasters. “We worked hard to get to this point, and it’s a pleasure to be involved. It’s gratifying that so many people with a variety of ties to the university want to enhance their communication and leadership skills through Toastmasters.”

Toastmasters International began in 1924 with the mission of helping people grow their confidence in public speaking and leadership skills. The worldwide network now comprises more than 292,000 memberships in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries.

UMSL Triton Toastmasters officers

The UMSL Triton Toastmasters officers and District 8 Toastmasters representatives showing off the club’s new banner are, from left, Sandy Kardis, of District 8; Ron Gossen, president; Gina Ganahl, vice president of membership; Tony Accurso, treasurer; Linda Carter, vice president of education; Brian Youngberg, sergeant-at-arms; John Barry, club mentor, and Andrea Purnell, vice president of public relations. (Photo by August Jennewein) (Click image to enlarge)

The current group of Triton Toastmasters is composed of UMSL faculty, staff, alumni and two student members. At 28 members, there is still room for the club to add a few more.

Toastmasters meet weekly in the Alumni Center, 101 Woods Hall on North Campus. Meetings feature a weekly speech contest with members presenting prepared speeches (generally 5-7 minutes) emphasizing predetermined speaking skills such as body language or voice inflections, or speech purposes (to persuade, storytelling, technical presentations, humorous speeches, etc.). Each speech is then evaluated with the evaluators themselves being judged in a contest.

For many, the highlight of the meeting, and one of the most effective skills-development tools, is a competitive round of short extemporaneous speeches (under two minutes) on surprise topics. For example, members on Wednesday had to improvise on-the-spot answers to Dear Abby-style quandaries from the likes of Little Red Riding Hood, “Hillary from New York,” and “Dorothy from Kansas.”

“I think all of our members will agree that the weekly meeting is about the most fun hour of our work week,” concludes Gossen. “When we enter the meeting, we leave our job titles at the door and work together to help one another grow and develop. The degree of improvement that members gain in speaking and critical analysis is astounding. Literally, in a matter of months, one can go from frightened to self-confident, marginally communicative to articulate. That’s the magic of the Toastmasters method, and it works.”

For more general information, visit the Toastmasters International website. To learn more about the UMSL club, contact Triton Toastmasters Vice President Gina Ganahl at 314-516-5925.

The UMSL Experience

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Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

Eye on UMSL: A day in the life
Eye on UMSL: A day in the life

Students from UMSL’s College of Optometry and College of Nursing participated in a simulation designed to expose them to the complexities of poverty.

Eye on UMSL: A day in the life

Students from UMSL’s College of Optometry and College of Nursing participated in a simulation designed to expose them to the complexities of poverty.

Eye on UMSL: A day in the life

Students from UMSL’s College of Optometry and College of Nursing participated in a simulation designed to expose them to the complexities of poverty.