Celeste Marx, associate director of alumni relations at UMSL, competes in the evaluation contest at the Triton Toastmasters

Celeste Marx, associate director of alumni relations at UMSL, competes in the evaluation contest at the Triton Toastmasters meeting on Feb. 20. (Photo by August Jennewein)

If you pass Gina Ganahl on the highway during her daily commute, her lips will probably be moving and no one else will be in the car.

That’s because she’s practicing her next speech for Triton Toastmasters.

“I turn off St. Louis Public Radio and practice different sections of my latest speech,” said Ganahl, the associate dean for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. “Then, I sit down and type it on my computer, but I practice, practice, practice in my car to myself.”

Ganahl’s mobile monologues have served her well. This week, she won the Triton Toastmasters’ first contest in international speech. Ganahl will represent the club at the St. Louis Area 18 contest in April.

The Triton Toastmasters started meeting in May and received their official charter from Toastmasters International earlier this month. Toastmasters began in 1924 to help people improve their confidence in public speaking and leadership skills. There are now more than 14,350 clubs worldwide.

The club also tested its members’ strength as evaluators during the Feb. 20 meeting in 101 Woods Hall. Evaluation contestants watch a speech given by a presenter and are then judged on their ability to evaluate the speech. Celeste Marx, associate director of alumni relations, won the contest and will represent the club at the area competition.

It was Marx’s first contest, but she is pleased that she’s achieving her goals in public speaking.

“I joined because I wanted better speaking skills,” she said. “I really wanted my mouth to catch up to my mind.”

Triton Toastmasters is open to students, faculty and staff and meets weekly in the Alumni Center, 101 Woods Hall.

“Toastmasters is an excellent vehicle for students, staff and faculty who want to boost their speaking abilities and leadership skills,” said Ron Gossen, the club’s founding president. “Today’s winning speakers and evaluators will fare well in the larger area and district competition – they’re contenders. This competition shows the excellent progress that our members – not just the individual winners – have made in a short time.”

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