Jeri Mae Rowley is a professional speaker and college instructor who recently joined Toastmasters. As Division B Champion in the District 27 Humorous Speech Contest last year, she competed in the finals, which were held in Arlington, Va. We asked Jeri Mae to share how she is using Toastmasters to help her career as a professional speaker.
Question: Why did you join Toastmasters?
Answer: I joined Toastmasters to tap into a big community of people committed to improving their speaking skills. Currently, I’m transitioning from decades of work as a college instructor and a corporate trainer. I want to grow my keynote business. And keynoting takes a whole new skill set that I need to enhance.
Q: How has Toastmasters helped your speaking?
A: I’m rock solid when presenting for a day, or even for a semester. But crafting a seven-minute presentation—or a 45-minute keynote—is a real challenge for me. That’s why I ‘tapped into’ Toastmasters. And it is already paying off. Recently, I shared a piece of a new keynote at my club meeting. The evaluations that I received from fellow Toastmasters gave me specific ideas for improvement. I incorporated their feedback, and delivered a very successful keynote for a client later that month. Toastmasters are so generous and supportive. And, the evaluations are always offered in a spirit of helping other Toastmasters improve.
Q: How can Toastmasters who aren’t professional speakers build a speaking business?
A: You should attend monthly chapter meetings for the National Speakers Association’s D.C. Chapter. I am a member of both NSA and Toastmasters. Many professional speakers are. Toastmasters helps members enhance the ‘craft’ of public speaking. The National Speakers Association helps with the ‘business’ of professional speaking. Toastmasters are welcome to attend NSA-DC’s monthly meetings at a guest rate. And if you are serious about launching your speaking business, be sure to take advantage of NSA-DC’s 10-month Speakers Academy. The Speakers Academy includes a curriculum written by successful speaking professionals, mentors, monthly guest speakers and a speaker showcase to help new and emerging professional speakers build their business.
Jeri Mae Rowley is a member of Ballston Toastmasters, which meets at George Mason University in Founder’s Hall, Room 470, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Va., at 12:00 on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month. You can learn more about Jeri Mae at www.jerimaerowley.com and NSA-DC at www.nsadc.org