MADISON, WI (June 1, 2013) --- Summer is nearly here, flowers are in full bloom and there is definitely a “buzz” on
Wednesday evenings on Madison’s west side at Toastmasters Madison Achievers. After only a couple of
months, the group has already quadrupled in size, having recently moved from a small basement room that
fit 15 people to a larger room suitable for groups of 50. Why the buzz?
Many people join Toastmasters to get over the fear of public speaking. However, the Madison Achievers
group is doing something unlike other Toastmasters groups. While following a traditional Toastmasters
format, Madison Achievers is a specialty club. Since public speaking has been recognized by Fortune
magazine as the #1 skill that one can improve for a big career impact (“Five Reasons Why The Fear Of
Public Speaking Is Great For You,” 10/19/12), the club’s programming and format focuses on improving
interviewing, leadership, and public speaking skills for career advancement. The club’s vice president of
public relations, Kristin Johnson, an award-winning resume writer, job search coach and volunteer, has
presented to the group on topics such as resume writing and professional social networking. A portion of
each meeting is dedicated to impromptu interview questions. Meetings have also included presentations on
the job search process.
Jack Finkel, current club president and a long-standing Toastmasters member, saw a clear opportunity for a
new Toastmasters club in the Madison area to fill an unmet need: to provide a safe, supportive
environment for people to practice their interviewing, leadership and public speaking skills -- and get
immediate constructive and positive feedback. Finkel attributes the success of the club to the commitment
and efforts of the leadership team.
The group attracts the unemployed, underemployed, recent graduates, professionals and executives.
Networking is promoted by the diverse backgrounds of the members, including sales, law, IT, business, and
life sciences. The accelerated group meets weekly and is not only for people starting a job search, but also
for those looking to earn a promotion, to become better networkers, and to gain leadership skills by serving
on the leadership team of the club or in a variety of other roles within the club.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), leadership skills are in demand, and
Madison Achievers provides the environment to develop those skills. While the unemployment rate in
Madison (5.2%) is well below the state (7.1%) and national (7.6%) levels*, the employment market
remains competitive today, and public speaking and leadership skills can provide a needed edge over the
competition. Employers want and need employees who can lead teams, as well as communicate and
articulate their ideas successfully. In the two short months since its founding, the club is already planning to
expand its format and programming further to meet the needs of its members.
Guests note that the positive energy that fills the room is contagious…and the members seem to have gone
from holding back to "full steam ahead."
Toastmasters Madison Achievers Group meets on Wednesday evenings at Good Shepherd Lutheran
Church, Peterson Room from 7:00 – 8:00 pm. Toastmasters Madison Achievers is open to new members.
For more information, visit their website: http://madisonachievers.toastmastersclubs.org/ or contact
Toastmasters Madison Achievers Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Bureau of Labor and Statistics (March 2013).