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Penn Hills Toastmasters prepare for fall speech contest

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 8:31 p.m.

Do you have something to say? The Penn Hills Toastmasters want to hear it.

The Penn Hills Toastmasters Club is kicking off its first meeting at its new location with a Fall Speech Contest.

The club is part of the Toastmasters International organization, with more than 292,000 members who develop public speaking and leadership skills using a learn-by-doing approach.

“We have a lot of business students, and even a professional magician who's there to hone his public speaking skills,” said Penn Hills club President Jill Tuttle, who joined two years ago.

Tuttle said she has experienced a great deal of personal growth through the club.

“You grow through the experience of having to get up there and give those speeches,” she said. “It's hard being up in front of people, and I enjoy watching others succeed. I love watching club members achieve their goals.”

A typical Toastmasters meeting begins with a “word of the week,” discussed by a rotating member of the club. The group then moves into “table topics,” where a member prepares remarks on a given subject, then other members take turns giving an off-the-cuff speech about that topic.

“It's a very valuable business skill,” Tuttle said.

For the Fall Speech Contest, only the group's 17 members are eligible to compete, but the contest and the club's regular meetings are open to guests.

Members will try their hand at a both a humorous speech and a “table topic” speech.

First-place winners will move on to the upcoming Area 11 contest, where they'll compete against the Sallie Boggs Club (Forest Hills), the Butter Side Up Club (Aspinwall), and clubs from Butler and Monroeville. Those winners will move on to larger regional and national competitions and ultimately to the Toastmasters International contest.

Tuttle said she greatly enjoys her time with the club.

“I've been to a number of clubs, and I find this one the most supportive and encouraging,” she said. “My husband even joined the group. We laugh so much, and we have a really wonderful time.”

The club meets regularly on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m. at Pittsburgh Investments, located at 10989 Frankstown Road. For more information, email Tuttle at jill@tuttle.net.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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