Toastmasters is a club for those who want to gain leadership, public speaking skills

POIPU — Walking toward the podium, Kela Caspillo stood in front of nearly 20 people, some she had never met before.

Delivering a persuasive speech on organically-grown food and how fair treatment among animals should become the norm, Caspillo spoke with confidence — something she never thought she could do before joining Toastmasters.

“It takes me out of my comfort zone, but that’s why I like it,” Caspillo said.

The speech was Caspillo’s ninth since she joined Toastmasters. She is apart of the Kapaa club, but came to Poipu, the newly formed club on the Westside, to practice speaking in front of new people at Kauai Christian Fellowship.

“No matter what you do in life, I think everybody can gain something from Toastmasters,” Caspillo said.

When Caspillo gave her first speech, she had a lot to improve on. Gradual improvements haven’t come easy, but according to Mark Walsh, VP of education, that’s part of the learning process.

“You can speak in front of an audience here but it’s an audience that will support you and wants to see you succeed,” Walsh said. “We see huge amounts of improvement. Our members are so diverse and come from so many different backgrounds. It’s really amazing.”

Toastmasters, while it does help the individual gain confidence, is very much a team effort.

After Caspillo delivered her speech, she received resounding applause from the audience and afterwards, many members congratulated her on her speech and the improvements she’s made since day one.

“I’m a Realtor, so I wanted to practice being confident to talk to people and be a peer communicator,” Caspillo said. “I wanted to be able to think and speak on my feet.”

Getting diverse members to join Toastmasters has been an ongoing process for Donna Olivas-Kaohi, area director. When she joined Toastmasters, there weren’t many places for her to gain the confidence she needed to speak in front of others.

“When I first started, we just had one club on Kauai. And that club was here for over 30 years before we actually started another club in Kapaa,” Olivas-Kaohi said. “When people hear about Toastmasters, they think it’s just about public speaking, but it’s about leadership as well.”

The Poipu Toastmasters club meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Kauai Christian Fellowship. The Kapaa club meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Kapaa Neighborhood Center Craft Room and the Lihue club meets on the second and fourth Tuesday at the Round County Building on Rice Street in the Liquor Control Room from noon to 1 p.m.

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