Staten Island woman expands her ‘Limits’ at Toastmasters club

Jane Costagliola recently joined the "No Limits" chapter of Staten Island's Toastmasters.
Jane Costagliola recently joined the "No Limits" chapter of Staten Island’s Toastmasters. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

Jane Costagliola, 57, of Staten Island, is both a “No Limits” club member and a floor manager for the studio. Her speech Saturday focused on the importance of visualizing what you want in life as a tool for self-improvement, arguing kids should be taught to daydream. Throughout the taping, when she wasn’t speaking, she was giving stage directions to other members (and this reporter, who had to be told to sit down). The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

How long have you been in Toastmasters? How long have you been in “No Limits”?

I joined Toastmasters in April, and I came to my first meeting in May. I actually just joined this club today, but I’ve been on the show four times [as a guest]. I maintain the other club also. A few of us have what they call a dual membership — I’m involved in two. The other one is Richmond County.

What are the benefits of being in two clubs?

The benefit is being able to do more speeches. By doing more speeches you’re able to have a quicker progress. I have completed my "Competent Communicator" and I’m now working on my advanced manuals, so I’m really at the beginning.

How do you decide what your speeches are going to be about?

I follow the Toastmasters manual. I look at the manual, and today’s speech was inspiration — how do you inspire somebody? Then I look at what’s going on in my life — how can I utilize what I’m studying in my life? I do a lot of personal development. I have been working on visualization so I felt that would be a good way to inspire people.

What has your development been like since you started? How have you seen yourself improve?

I’m much more comfortable being at the podium, or being at the desk. I become aware of my “ums” and “nows.” I still do use them, but it strikes a chord, so I remember not to do it next time. It makes you aware of the words that you’re using when you speak.

That leads into my next question — do you integrate what you learn from Toastmasters into your daily life?

Table Topics is a great off the cuff experience — you have to give a one to one-and-a-half-minute evaluation off the cuff. So that prepares you for when you’re speaking in public. When we evaluate people, we evaluate certain things for each speech, [so] you become aware of these things in your daily life: How you present yourself, the words that you use, the topics you may speak about. You become much more well-rounded.

What are the challenges of doing this on television?

The challenge of doing it on television is you really are limited on your time. The speech I gave today should have been eight to ten minutes, but because I was doing it on TV I was limited to seven. Also how I look — I’m more aware. I’m going to put lipstick on, make sure my hair looks good. I wouldn’t normally do those things.

Does it make you more nervous?

Maybe the first or second time — now, I think I’m more accustomed to it.

How do you like being a floor manager?

Today was my first day! I love telling people where they have to be and what they have to do. And they listen to me — it’s not like with my children. People listen to me, they thank me! Here, most of us [have jobs] if you want to be involved, and I do — I love to learn what the back end of things are. So I enjoy that.

Does it make you feel more plugged into the community?

Oh, definitely. And especially when it’s on TV, and somebody might say, “Oh, I saw it!”

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