Keith Ruenheck, Principle Software Engineer

Recently, Columbia Tech formed and introduced a company sponsored Toastmasters Club, now known as the Otis Street Orators (OSO).

The Toastmasters Club gives people a systematic and proven way to develop their public speaking and leadership skills. The 20+ members who meet biweekly are an enthusiastic group who know that honing these abilities can help in many professional situations, including customer visits, design reviews and discussions with their team members and upper management.

Myron Waite, Executive VP of Columbia Tech Engineering, and a member of the club, is a great supporter and encourages members of the Columbia Tech Engineering team to participate in this valuable group. After the first meeting, Myron stated, “WOW! This process stimulated thought about how to improve communications, but most importantly how to listen to others and help them hone their skills through positive and constructive criticism!”

Upon joining, members are provided with two manuals, one focusing on communications, and the other on leadership.  There are ten projects in each manual that members complete at their own pace. Example projects include:

  • Communications:
    • Vocal Variety
    • Using Gestures
    • Being Persuasive
  • Leadership:
    • Listening Skills
    • Time Management
    • Being a Mentor

At every meeting, there are a variety of roles to fill, allowing people to work on projects from their manuals.  These roles include:

  • Toastmaster – Presides over the meeting
  • Three speakers – Give prepared speeches
  • Three evaluators – Give feedback to speakers
  • Table-topics Master – Calls on people for impromptu speeches
  • Grammarian – Encourages interesting word usage and counts filler words (like, so, and um)

Members share details about their personal lives in many of the speeches, so the club not only provides a way to improve public speaking and leadership skills, but also provides a great way for members to learn about each other and encourages a team mentality. The club is dynamic and growing fast, and guests are always encouraged to attend. Columbia Tech and Coghlin Companies are proud to offer and support these types of groups to improve communication, leadership skills and team morale.