George V. Reilly

Freely Speaking Toastmasters' 20th Anniversary

Freely Speaking Toastmasters

I’m the Secretary/Webmaster of Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters, a club whose membership is primarily LGBT, but is open to all. We were chartered in September 1988. I joined in 2004, after I left Microsoft and hence Microsoft Toast­mas­ters.

We’re so proud of being 20 years old that we’ve celebrated twice! We had a brunch for the current membership back in September, and tonight we had a party for current, former, and would-be members.

Not a huge turnout, but a lot of fun. Many of us spoke about what had drawn us to FSTM and what set it apart from other clubs for us.

I’ve been a member (and officer) of three Toast­mas­ters clubs, FSTM, Microsoft Toast­mas­ters, and Atlas Im­pres­sion­s—a club that I helped found last year, before I left Atlas. The two work clubs are fine in their own right, but each of them allots only an hour for the meeting, which is barely enough. FSTM meets 7:00–8:30pm on Monday evenings at Group Health on Capitol Hill, and the extra half hour allows for a more relaxed pace. In particular, not only does each prepared speech get a formal evaluation, it also gets five minutes of open evaluation from the audience. The open evaluation is unusual in Toast­mas­ters clubs. I feel that it engages the audience and it invariably gives rise to several sug­ges­tions and criticisms that the evaluator overlooked. FSTM is much more social than the two work clubs, and the membership is rather more diverse than high-tech workers.

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