Toastmasters in Prisons by Karen O’Donnell
I was presented with an invitation to take part in Speechcraft at the Dochas Centre, in Dublin.
This speechcraft program allows experienced Toastmasters to present the fundamentals of public speaking. Following on from the initial session where the various aspects of a Toastmasters meeting were explained to the inmates, they then presented their ice breaker speeches!! These women had mixed speaking abilities, some had poor verbal skills; some were more used to resorting to physical expression rather than verbally talking out their problems; and most had very low self esteem.
During their speechcraft sessions, these women spoke in front of their peers, the prison wardens and us Toastmasters. Speechcraft in the women’s prison gave them the opportunity to sharpen their speaking abilities and boost their confidence. They soon realised that their words impacted on others. They were given the space to articulate their feelings and were allowed to get their point across. They learned the art of listening and thoroughly enjoyed receiving praise and recommendations from the other women. They learned to connect, communicate and co-operate with each other.
They particularly liked the table topics sessions, where they could air their opinion in an environment which listened!!
These women spoke from the heart. And I found the experience so rewarding and educational. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with these amazing women at the Dochas centre.