StenoMasters was founded in 2021 and is an online community for all stenographic court reporters, captioners, and students to practice the art of public speaking. It will be chartered soon as an online club of Toastmasters International.
Toastmasters was founded in 1924 and has 16,000 clubs in 145 countries. For almost a century Toastmasters has been empowering people all over the world to improve their public speaking skills and to develop their leadership abilities. Visit toastmasters.org to learn more.
We are mostly silent in the courtroom, at the deposition conference table, or sitting behind a computer screen captioning an event. The StenoMasters club is a welcoming, supportive environment where we encourage each other to speak up and share our stories. Public speaking is most people's no. 1 fear. Through practice and preparation, we will carry greater confidence into the workplace and become even stronger advocates for stenograpy in front of attorneys, judges, and the consumers of our services.
Anyone is welcome to join StenoMasters. The group was originally conceived with members of the stenographic profession in mind, but it is not exclusive. Friends, family, and curious individuals are welcome to get involved. We would love to have a mix of freelancers -- reporters and captioners -- state officials, federal officials, students, school admins, agency owners, retired reporters, and members of state and national associations.
Our meetings will be conducted online and follow the traditional three-part structure of Toastmasters: (1) Table Topics which are impromptu one-minute responses; (2) prepared 5-7 minute speeches on any topic of the speaker's choosing; and (3) evaluations of the speeches which are 2-3 minutes in length.
At each meeting, members sign up to perform various roles including the Toastmaster who is the MC for the meeting, a Table Topics Master who chooses a theme and creates questions around that theme, speakers, evaluators, and helpers such as the Timer and Ah Counter. The meeting will probably last one hour.
The answer is anything. We certainly look forward to hearing speeches about steno, court reporting, captioning, school, speed-building, realtime, etc. But speakers may speak on any topic of their choosing.
As of October 2021 the goal is to meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. Future dates may change.
The total first-year fee is $146. The fee includes $36 per year for StenoMasters, $90 per year for Toastmasters (our umbrella organization), and a one-time $20 new member fee to Toastmasters.
Here are a few reasons you will benefit by getting involved with StenoMasters.
1. Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
For many, the fear of public speaking is the number one fear ahead of dying. Yet this fear can be effectively overcome through practice. It is an ongoing process, not a single moment.
2. Eliminate Filler Words
Each meeting will have a member serve as the Ah Counter whose sole job is to count every person's filler words like "um," "ah," "you know," and "like." Many people are aware that they use these filler words, but have never received any practical tools to reduce or eliminate them.
3. Learn to Speak Within an Allotted Time Frame
Every person's role at a StenoMasters meeting has precise timing parameters. To help speakers stay on task, a member called the Timer displays the colors green, yellow, and red in their Zoom webcam background to let the speaker know where they are in their presentation.
4. Hear a Variety of Speeches
We certainly look forward to hearing stories from the field – courtroom, depositions CART, broadcast captioning, or school. But members may also speak on any other topic.
5. Learn How to Write and Deliver an Effective Speech
The point of joining a public speaking club is learning how to write an effective speech with a strong beginning, clear main points that flow logically, and a strong conclusion. Speeches can be informational, educational, persuasive, or inspirational.
6. Share Your Stories and Inspire Others
When you share your own story of a struggle you overcame, a lesson you learned, a triumph, a failure, you subconsciously empower other people to share their own stories.
7. Learn to Give Constructive Feedback
Giving and receiving feedback in a positive and constructive manner is an integral part of the Toastmasters/StenoMasters experience. Members will evaluate each other's speeches. One week you may give a speech and be evaluated by someone, and the next week you may be evaluating their speech.
8. Develop and Maximize Your Leadership Abilities
StenoMasters is a chartered club under Toastmasters International, whose tagline is "Where Leaders Are Made." Great leaders are also great speakers, and great speakers often make great leaders. Members who are committed and attend meetings regularly may find that they had tremendous leadership potential that lay dormant until they accessed it through public speaking.
9. Become a Part of a Vocal Stenographic Community
Stenographers are usually the silent observers who listen and take down what others say. This is a group for us to speak, to occupy center stage, to truly be the "most important person in the room."