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  We are meeting today! (After today, the next meeting is on Thursday, July 13, 2017.)
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Our Mission
To provide progressive activists and professionals with a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communications and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.
 
Meeting Dates
Meeting Location
The second Thursday and fourth Tuesday of every month. The doors open at 7:00 PM and the meeting lasts from 7:15 PM to 9 PM.
28 East 35th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues), in New York City.
 
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Why Join a Public Speaking Club?
Public speaking is a critical skill for peace, social justice, and environmental activists, and for many professionals. When we speak to groups, whether they are large or small, we should be able to gain and hold our listeners' attention, communicate our message, and leave a favorable impression.
 
But most of us are afraid of speaking to strangers. We're nervous, we might forget what we were planning to say, we might not express ourselves clearly. And unless we have specialized knowledge and training, we may not be aware of some key factors in speaking such as vocal variety, gestures, and eye contact.
 
A public speaking club helps us overcome your fears and builds our confidence by providing a safe environment in which we can get knowledge, practice, and supportive feedback about public speaking. And it's fun!
Why Toastmasters?
Greenspeakers is a Toastmasters club (club #3172 in district 46, to be precise). We chose to affiliate with Toastmasters because we were impressed with the Toastmasters methodology. Instead of the usual classroom learning environment, Toastmaster meetings are lively and interactive. We learn by doing and getting feedback from peers.
 
Toastmasters International, founded in the 1920s, has about ten thousand clubs like ours throughout the world. These clubs have trained tens of thousands of speakers, including many professionals who use their speaking skills at their job and paid speakers.
 
Toastmasters also provides us with an effective meeting structure (see the sample meeting agenda in the center column), excellent printed materials, and organizational support.
Why We Formed a Public Speaking Club
Greenspeakers was formed by progressive activists and advocates seeking to improve their public speaking skills. Many of us had good ideas, but we found it hard to get our message out to the public. We needed a safe space in which to improve our communications skills and test our messages.
 
By forming the Greenspeakers club and affiliating with Toastmasters, we got what we anticipated and more. In addition to creating a safe space in which to rehearse our messages and get feedback, we learned specialized public speaking skills that we would never have discovered on our own.
Why the Name "Greenspeakers"?
Greenspeakers was founded by progressive activists from the Green Party. Membership in Greenspeakers is open to all.
What Happens At a Greenspeakers Meeting?
Our meetings generally start with an inspirational welcome message from a club member who introduces the Toastmaster for the evening. The Toastmaster is the Master of Ceremonies and leads us through the rest of the agenda.
 
Here is a typical agenda:
  • Introductions: Each person briefly introduces herself or himself.
  • Agenda review: An experienced member explains what happens in the different parts of the meeting for the benefit of newcomers.
  • Word of the day: A member presents us with an unusual word, defines it, uses it in several sentences, and challenges us to use it during the course of the meeting.
  • Table Topics: An experienced member reads from a list of prepared questions and calls on members of the audience to give one-to-two minute responses. The questions aren't difficult; they are intended to give us a chance to practice speaking without preparation.
  • Prepared Speeches: Two or three members deliver speeches that they have prepared in advance. These speeches can be about any subject, but they generally fall into one of ten categories defined by Toastmasters International. Most speeches are between five and seven minutes long.
  • Evaluations: Experienced members, chosen in advance, evaluate each of the prepared speeches. These evaluations are supportive; they describe what the speaker did well and how the speaker could improve. Evaluations are two to three minutes long.
  • Self-evaluations: Each prepared speaker gets a minute to tell us how she or he felt while preparing and delivering the speech.
  • Meeting reports:
    • The Time-keeper has been timing every speaker, and lists how long each of us spoke.
    • The Um-counter tells us how many times each of us used filler words such as "um," "uh," "you know," and "like."
    • The General Meeting Evaluator reviews and gives us feedback about all aspects of the meeting.
  • Business meeting: The club President conducts a short business meeting. Club officers make reports and club policies are sometimes discussed.
  • Announcements: Everyone is invited to briefly announce events of interest. These events may or may not be related to the Greenspeakers club.
  • Voting and Prizes: We vote for the best impromptu speech during Table Topics, the best prepared speech, and the best evaluation. Each of the top vote-getters receives a prize.
  • Final Go-Around: We go around the room and each person briefly gives us feedback about the meeting.
Do You Have to Prepare For Your First Meeting?
No. You will get several opportunities to address the meeting, but we won't ask you to speak for more than a minute or two at a time.
 
During our introductions, you can tell us your name and a little about yourself. Each introduction is about 15 to 30 seconds long.
 
During the Table Topics section of the meeting (see the center column for a description of Table Topics), we'll encourage you to try answering an impromptu question with a one-to-two minute response. This is optional. If you prefer to just listen to others, you can do so.
 
You are welcome to make a brief announcement during the Announcements section, and you can tell us what you liked and what you didn't during the Final Go-Around.
 
For most of the first meeting, you'll observe and listen. We want you to be comfortable with the format of our meetings before you to take on meeting roles or deliver prepared speeches.
How Long Will It Take Before You See Improvement?
You can't take a pill that will make you a better speaker. The benefits that you receive from Greenspeakers will be proportional to the effort you make.
 
If you attend three or four meetings and participate actively by answering Table Topic questions and giving a prepared speech, you will become aware of some areas in which you are already a satisfactory speaker and other areas in which you need to improve. Knowing your strengths will give you confidence; recognizing your weak points is the first step on the road to eliminating them.
 
The Toastmasters printed materials will also make you aware of some of the factors that audiences react to (unconsciously). For example, when you speak in public you should make eye contact with your audience. That means you can't read your speech off of a printed page and connect with your audience. Once you understand the importance of eye contact, you can start to reduce your use of notes. The best speakers don't use printed notes at all.
What Does It Cost?
We pass the hat at each meeting to pay for the space we have rented and other expenses. The suggested contribution is $5 per meeting.
 
If you choose to, you can become a member of Toastmasters International for an initiation fee of $20 plus semi-annual dues of $40. By joining Toastmasters International, you will get a set of printed manuals that explains the Toastmasters method and contain many helpful suggestions for improving your public speaking. You will also get a subscription to a monthly magazine from Toastmasters. Greenspeakers does not receive any portion of dues paid to Toastmasters International, which is why we pass the hat.
 
Past and Current Officers
  • Founder: Rachel Friend
  • Club Mentor: Julia Willebrand
  • Former Presidents: Paul Baron, Richard Pastena, Ayca Aksu, Jesse Scinto, Craig Mills, Heidi Bek, David Levner, Lorrie Clevenger, Margarett Jolly, Joanne Pawlowski, Rachel Friend
  • President: Nithya Venkateswaran
  • Vice President of Education: Jeanne Devine
  • Vice President of Membership: Alice Melnic
  • Secretary: Virginia Cahill
  • Treasurer: Justin Heller
  • Vice President of Public Relations: Craig Jaffe
  • Sergeant at Arms: Vacant