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Do you fear the task of speaking to a group of people? Sweaty palms, upset stomach, and nervousness  are symptoms of the fear associated with having to speak before a public gathering. They are also what club Rotarian Garrett Cole once experienced before he joined the Rotary Club of Kingston.
Billed as a classification talk, Coles speech was more about how he overcame those fears and internal traumas. The secret he said was joining Toastmasters another service organization, before joining Rotary, only one which specialized in helping people to overcome their fear of giving speeches.

Toastmasters (International) he said, is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in 1924 by Ralph Smedley and headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, the organization's membership is approximately 280,000 in more than 14,700 clubs in 144 countries.

Cole described Toastmasters as the best way for anyone—whether a working professional, student, stay-at-home parent or retiree—to improve his or her communication and leadership skills. Members overcome the fear of public speaking and learn skills that aid them in becoming more successful. Using eleven different “Pathways”, Toastmasters creates better listeners and stronger team members and leaders who can comfortably give and receive constructive evaluations.

During his presentation, Garrett described himself as once being a shy introvert who was afraid of standing up in front of a crowd.  He finally decided to do something about it in his late 30s and joined Toastmasters International.  There he discovered that his shyness was no anomaly and that a full 77% of people fear public speaking. 

It was a struggle as he dealt with the dreaded "table talk" which challenged participants to make a two minute presentation without any preparation on a surprise topic.  His first attempt lasted 30 seconds; his second 40 seconds...and persevering he finally made it thorough a full two minutes.

It was a struggle but as we witnessed at his presentation today, he has become a relaxed, confident and talented public speaker. 

In May of 2019, Rotary too also recognized the benefits of Toastmasters International in creating leadership skills as at they formed a strategic alliance, the only one of its kind they have created with another service organization. Together they have created a free series of eight education courses available to Rotarians and Rotaractors through Rotary International's Learning Centre.

In Garrett’s opinion, the series is not quite the same as joining Toastmasters International, largely because it is conducted solely on line and there is a certain loss of feedback and mentorship.  It is still, however, an excellent exposure to the Toastmaster experience which may tempt you to become a full member. 

As a finale, Garrett stated that there are six Toastmasters International Clubs in Kingston and he would happily introduce us to any of them should we be interested. Cole is also the President of the  Cataraquai Valley Toastmasters Club.
Watch and Listen to Garrett Cole's Presentation
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