MOST people come to Queanbeyan Toastmasters to overcome that basic human fear of public speaking and help them make better presentations at work or school. However when club president Dan Holliday joined Toastmasters 14 years ago, he saw it as an extension of his first love, acting.
"Unlike most people, I was in the acting business and I just wanted to keep in front of an audience. I'm a bit unusual in that regard. I love an audience," he laughed.
On Monday Mr Holliday and the local Toastmasters Club will celebrate 30 years in Queanbeyan at its regular 7pm meeting at the Karabar Community Centre.
Mr Holliday said the club has nurtured and developed leadership and communication skills for countless locals over its lifetime.
"Most people who join Toastmasters join because of work. They reach a situation where they've got to make presentations, speak to people, maybe get involved in sales- anything that involves public speaking or speaking to groups.
"And one of the top fears people have is public speaking. It ranks above death. People say they'd rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy," he said.
But this international, not-for-profit group takes people through a range of strategies and situations, helping them to build their communication and leadership skills in a friendly environment.
"What you have is a very well-established program of self-paced learning where everyone gets evaluated, and it's gentle evaluation. We don't want to scare people off ... because we've all been there," Mr Holiday said.
The local branch is made up of people from a range of ages and professional and cultural backgrounds, from founding member Barry Wright right through to some senior school students. It's that diversity and level of interest that has kept the club going for 30 years, Mr Holliday said.
"One of the things that I think has kept this club going is the diversity of the group. We've always got good, healthy sized meetings ... and we're getting more members all the time. Queanbeyan Toastmasters is a very robust, healthy club."
*To find out more about Toastmasters or to come along to Queanbeyan meetings, visit www.toastmasters.org.au.