Public Speaking & Elocution

Parent Q&A

  • Local toastmasters?

    (1 reply)

    Hi - I'm interested in trying Toastmasters, and I might convince my 17 1/2 year old to try it with me.  But how do we find a club that meets weeknight evenings near Oakland/Berkeley that would be open to a late teen and a middle aged mom (probably not a retired age group)?  I looked on the toastmasters website and the sheer number of clubs around here is overwhelming.  I'm also not clear how it works - do you sign up and just go for awhile until you feel you've gotten what you want out of it?  It doesn't seem that there's a set course or duration?  We both love public speaking but would like to improve.

    RE: Local toastmasters? ()

    >do you sign up and just go for awhile until you feel you've gotten what you want out of it?  You just show up at a meeting and, assuming you like it, pay dues and start going through the speeches. >It doesn't seem that there's a set course or duration?There is a set of 10 broadly defined speeches which you go through. The club I joined just started Toastmasters' new program called Pathways which offers different sets of speeches, depending on whether you want to focus on Persuasion or Storytelling or whatever. People tend to go through the set in about a year. The point is to practice speaking, though, and there are people who keep going for decades honing their skills.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Voice Projection/Elocution lessons

Aug 2009

Hi , I am looking for someone to help me speak loudly and project my voice better and have some vocal variety. This is not singing related just to improve presentation and speaking. May be something unconventional like acting lessons would be the answer. Guidance please.

Even though you are talking about well...talking...or speaking, it might be helpful to talk to a singing voice teacher. When we sing, we are learning to use our voice to the breathe properly, use the larynx/voicebox in the proper most effective way, to project teh sound by relaxing the throat, enunciate properly, open the mouth enough, sound vowels properly. All these things are what we use to speak and to sing. that said, I know that Berkeley rep ahs a lot of classes for actors. You could also try the Jazz School on Addison in Bkly. I can recommend my voice teacher, Ellen Robinson, ellen [at] She'd at least be good to talk to about what you're looking for. Good luck anon

I highly recommend Cara Hale Alter at Speechskills ( I was fortunate to be able to take a class from her---Projecting Credibility and Confidence--paid for by my work. She was teaching at UC Extension...don't know if she still does. She's a great teacher and excellent coach. She helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses in a very non-threatening, non-judgmental, helpful manner. I don't have any experience with the other trainers in her company but Cara's wonderful. Sally

Which toastmasters?

April 2007

Can people who have participated or are participating in local Toastmaster's groups tell a bit about their experiences? It seems easiest to pick based on what fits in the schedule, but are there other considerations? If anyone can give specifics, that would be appreciated. anon

Lakeview Toastmasters is a terrific group -- they've been in existence for over 40 years -- a warm, supportive, fun place to build your speaking skills and confidence. They meet every Thursday 7-8am at Summit Hospital in conference room just off the cafeteria. I've been a member for several years (currently on a break due to my heavy workload - planning to return this summer). Wendy

Accent Modification

June 2003

Is there a place in the East Bay where one can take diction lessons? My husband wants to lose, or at least tone down, an accent. MEG

Joan Cehn is a licensed/credentialed speech pathologist in Oakland with over 15 years of experience, including accent modification/reduction. Her Masters in Speech Pathology is from Northwestern University. She can be reached at 510-301-1345, or joanc1036 (at) Good Luck! J. Roberts

Public Speaking

March 1999

I highly recommend Butterfield Speaks in San Francisco. Richard Butterfield has been providing this service for many professionals, after having worked in acting for years. He also works outside of San Francisco, e.g., in the East Bay, Los Angeles, and as far away as Australia. I'm not sure of the phone number, but it should be in the phone book. Wendy

Although I have never tried it myself, Toastmasters (in Berkeley, I think) has been recommended to me by both a career counselor and a writer who used it to prepare for a book tour. There's an 800 number in the White Pages that will help you find the closest group. L. Silver

I highly recommend joining a Toastmasters group in your area. Toastmasters is an international organization dedicated to improving public speaking skills. Like many club-oriented organizations, you do need to find a group with which you click, so don't be discouraged if you need to try a few different clubs out to find the one that's right for you. Before mommyhood, I worked for an environmental consulting firm doing human health risk assessment. I frequently needed to present findings to members of the public, and often found these presentations daunting. Toastmasters helped me a great deal--I'm a believer. Look them up in your phone book Christina