EFFECTIVE public speaking is a valuable life skill, and no-one teaches it better than Toastmasters.
Eighteen Year 11 students from Ipswich schools are about to fine tune their talks as they compete in the Mayor's Youth Speech Contest.
Organising committee chairman Keith Cohen joined Toastmasters five years ago to boost his confidence when speaking in front of groups.
"It's a skill that can be used in any aspect of a career," he said.
Training for the students started on Monday.
They'll take part in four separate nights of instruction, culminating in a practice speech to their mentoring club.
Entrants come from Bundamba Secondary College, West Moreton Anglican College, St Mary's College, Ipswich boys and girls' grammar schools, Rosewood State High; St Edmund's, Springfield Anglican and St Peter Claver colleges, as well as Ipswich High.
Finals will be held on August 26 from 9am to noon at the UQ Ipswich auditorium, on the subject "Ipswich, My City My Future".
Seven Toastmasters clubs from an area bounded by Springfield Lakes and Rosewood are mentoring the students.
"If they wish to pursue the training, once they turn 18 they can join Toastmasters," Mr Cohen said.
A Toastmaster for 30 years, Bette Howard, belongs to three clubs - Ipswich, Limestone and Morning Talkers.
"I've found that I have greater confidence and I enjoy watching people grow in confidence," she said. "I think there's a real need for the training."
It was Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale's idea to involve high school students in the speech contest this year.
"Whilst we live in a fast-paced technological age, the art of public speaking is a core ingredient to a successful public life," he said.
"Under the guidance of these clubs, young people will learn to present a speech in a clear, logical manner."