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Vogt's Notes: Start your Monday morning with Toastmasters

The first two days of the work week are my busiest and most stressful. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Every second and fourth Monday morning of the month, therefore, when I sprint out the door (routinely 10 minutes late) and head north to Breezy Point instead of south to Brainerd, I never fail to wonder, “What in the world am I doing!?”

A couple of hours later, I find myself somewhat more relaxed with a smile on my face as I finally head south. Then I say to myself, “I know exactly what I’m doing.”

These are the mornings I attend the Out of Towners Toastmasters meetings. Our fledgling club, of which I’m proud to say I’m one of the founding members, meets from 8:15-9:30 a.m. the second and fourth Mondays of the month at the Pelican Lakes Conservation Club in Breezy Point.

If you’re free at that time on those days, I highly encourage you to come and check out our club. Learn how to become more comfortable when speaking in public, pick up leadership and communication skills, and meet some super great people in the process.

We Out of Towners just turned 1, having formed in April 2012 under the leadership of veteran Toastmasters Marjorie Harris and Cindy Hidde. These women have proven to be patient, steady mentors and role models for the rest of us. We still fumble through some of the protocol, but we continue to learn and improve with each meeting.

There aren’t a whole lot of us, which is part of the reason why it’s become somewhat easy to give speeches to this group. We have gotten to know one another and are comfortable with each other.

That’s not to say we don’t get sweaty palms and a rush of nervousness when we give our speeches. Those are common feelings in public speaking. But I know it would be a lot worse in front of a larger group. And I know I’ve definitely improved my public speaking skills in the past year. I believe I can speak in front of a group with fewer “ummms” and “ahhhs,” and I believe what I’m learning helps each week when we record News of the North, a weekly news video on our website at

At Toastmasters meetings, we’ve learned to improvise and fill various meeting roles when our numbers are low. We’d love to change that and have more people to choose from to fill the voids.

So make it a point to attend a meeting and see if it’s for you. I promise you’ll meet a fun and interesting group of people I’ve come to know quite well just through speeches. My speech titles have included “Bonjour, Mes Amis,” “Senioritis,” “Elections 101,” “Foxy Ladies,” “First Impressions” and “A Bunyan-Sized Blooper.”

Have I piqued your interest? Our next meeting is at 8:15 a.m. Monday, May 13. We’d love to have you visit.