"The idea of making a presentation in public is the number one fear reported by people in the U. S.," says Paul L. Witt, PhD, assistant professor of communication studies at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas. When Jerry Seinfold heard about a survey that put fear of public speaking above fear of death, he said, "In other words, at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy."
"If it’s not fun, it’s not Toastmasters." says Rick Furbish, Director of Marketing in the Tampa Bay area. With nearly 250,000 members and over 12,000 clubs in 106 countries, Toastmasters is a very popular group that know how to make speaking fun.
Well-known Toastmaster alumni include Peter Coors of Coors Brewing Company, Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, and Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii.
Here are some of the people locally who have benefitted and experienced the fun of Toastmasters, all members of Renaissance Speakers of Clearwater Florida which meets Mondays at 6:00 p.m. at Jim Warren Art Gallery, across from the Post Office in downtown Clearwater.
Arney Miles, a local business owner, used to shiver and shake before a group. Now his speeches get lots of laughs!
Sharon Hillestad, grandmother of four, joined Toastmasters to improve her ability to communicate about her lifelong cause – literacy. She is the Lead Supervisor and Trainer for Volunteers at the Community Learning Center in Clearwater.
Debra Lynn Dadd has been called "the queen of green," by the New York Times. She is the author of Home Safe Home, and Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Non-Toxic Living. Though she had been a public speaker, she lacked the skill that comes from doing the assignments and guidance that are part of Toastmaster meetings.
Her husband, Larry Redalia, is also a member. He’s an inventor who joined Toastmasters to promote his car that runs on vegetable oil.
Jay Reckenwald owns his own business, Pinellas Home Solutions. Joining Toastmasters inspired him to take up acting as well, and he has already landed a few jobs.
Readers are invited to visit Renaissance Toastmasters in Clearwater (727 538-9701) and/or they can contact a club near their home or office by going to Toastmasters.org and clicking on "Meeting locations Find a location near you." Whatever you club you visit, you will be welcome.