Yappin’ Yotes offers learning opportunities for to USD and Vermillion
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Yappin’ Yotes offers learning opportunities for to USD and Vermillion

Toastmasters is an international organization focused on developing their members’ public speaking and leadership skills. Although Toastmasters International is nearly 100 years old, the Vermillion-Area Yappin’ Yotes Toastmasters began in 2015.

Ulrike Dosdall has been the president of Yappin’ Yotes since September of this year. Dosdall said she started her membership with Yappin’ Yotes in 2016, but was also a part of the Toastmasters International chapter in Pierre, S.D. while she was living there.

“I decided to join because I am a very introverted person,” Dosdall said. “It has offered a great opportunity for me to get out of my shell and develop those communication skills that have helped me immensely in almost all my personal life. I’ve gotten a job, basically, because of Toastmasters.”

Jen Hovland, the sergeant at arms for Yappin’ Yotes, is a founding member of the club, but started participating in Toastmasters International in 2007 as a member of the Toastmasters International chapter in Yankton, S.D. Hovland said she became a member after receiving advice from a Toastmaster about a short presentation she’d given.

“After going to a chamber event, someone there that I learned from was a Toastmaster. He gave me a little bit of constructive feedback for my two-minute plug about my business, that I’d used the word ‘so’ 17 times in a two-minute presentation about my business. Therefore, he suggested I become part of Toastmasters and listen the members. That’s why I first got started, was to improve my marketing,” Hovland said.

Yappin’ Yotes meetings consist of giving speeches, evaluating speeches, and sharing stories. Dosdall said the group uses a program called Pathways to develop and learn different skills and how to effectively communicate using these skills during club meetings.

“Every meeting, we strive to have opportunities for everybody to speak, whether that be prepared speeches or off-the-cuff impromptu speeches in our club,” Dosdall said.

Hovland said that with the pandemic, it has been more difficult to recruit people, but that there are a lot of benefits to joining, including getting experience speaking in front of groups, networking and getting feedback.

Dosdall said there is currently only one member who is a student at USD, but Yappin’ Yotes is always looking for more people to join.  

“We all love to get together, be professional, but also have a good time with it. We want to learn about each other, help each other with our jobs and personal lives. We invite the community, faculty here at USD, staff, students, anybody who wants to join us over 18, we welcome them to join our club,” Dosdall said.