RESEARCH TRIANGLE…The one-of-a-kind Toastmasters chapter that meets twice a month at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development in Research Triangle Park celebrated its second anniversary June 12.

The Toastmasters group is the only one of 9,000 nationally open to the public in a small group setting such as the CED’s, says Carrie Aaron, just installed as the chapter’s new vice president for public relations.

Aaron tells LTW the group recently graduated the latest group of entrepreneurs to take its speech craft program.

The group’s newly elected president, Sid Chopra, says, “the program helped them hone the way they present themselves, their company and their products.

“Each participant had the opportunity to give 5 speeches, an elevator pitch and 3 evaluations.

The 5 session workshop worked through the basics of organization and how use our body, our voice and technology to enhance the way we communicate. Participants learned by doing, employing techniques that make it easier to write and prepare effective presentations. It finished with an exercise in how to persuade and inspire.”

The group has 25 members and 18 entrepreneurs took the annual speech craft program this year, she says. She says the group did not do much marketing of the program and only expected about six people to sign up, so getting 18 surprised them.

They were all local entrepreneurs. The group sent out a broadcast fax to venture capital funds after the CED’s recent Venture 2004 conference. It noted that while some startup presentations were great, others sent people fleeing the room because the presentation was poor.

Aaron says the Toastmasters group gives the program as a promotional offering to expose people to Toastmasters. “It costs a whopping $42 a year to join,” says Aaron.

She says five people from this year’s program have already joined.

The group meets the first and third Tuesday of each month from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the CED’s RTP headquarters. “One guy told us he visited all the other Toastmasters clubs in the area and they were like Sunday Schools. This was the only one business oriented,” Aaron says.

Aaron is also president of PEO Network Inc., and is a top consultant to the human resources outsourcing field. “I’ve been in the industry 21 years and it’s only 24 years old,” she says. Aaron gives keynote addresses at industry functions, sells video and audio tapes, and books on the topic.

She also calls on local entrepreneurs about how they can use outsourcing vendors. “A small company can have a Fortune 500 human resources department at its fingertips,” she says.

Newly elected officers are:

President: Sidd Chopra.
VP Education: Eli Ney.
VP Public Relations: Carrie Aaron.
VP Membership: Cheryl Warner.
Sergeant at Arms: Bala Balakumaran.
Treasurer: Andrew Sutton.
Secretary: Esen Akter.

PEO Network: