Letters: January 2008
Letters: January 2008

Amazing Toastmaster Transformation
When the LibORATORS Club began forming at the Tecumseh (Nebraska) State Correctional Institution, there was a lot of curiosity about Toastmasters. One of the curious was Reko Mitchell, who said he was really good at writing words, but not very comfortable speaking those words in front of people. I told him that Toastmasters could help him become a public speaker so he would be able to share his words with a listening audience. Reko joined and became the club’s first sergeant at arms.

Reko gave his first speech and while his words were eloquent and well thought out, his fear of public speaking was evident. He stood stone still while sweat poured from his brow. By his third speech, his finely crafted words were infused with humor and he was not only delivering a good speech, he was entertaining people! The transformation was the biggest I’ve seen in 17 years of being a Toastmaster.

Sadly, he was involved in an altercation that cost him his life. Who knows where Toastmasters could have taken this man with such a gift for words?
Ralph Brown, ATM-G  •  LibORATORS 986233-24  •  Tecumseh, Nebraska 

Quiet Leadership With a French Accent
I always enjoy the articles in the Toastmaster. When I saw “Sounding Good in English” on the cover of the August issue, I was looking forward to picking up some new tips and tricks to help me with my second language.

I found the article interesting but was disappointed that the author chose to make recommendations that would apply to any second language. Don’t get me wrong, these are valid and useful topics. It’s just that there’s very little in the article that is specific to English. There are some interesting tidbits about English word origins. I am reminded of David Rock’s point on interesting versus useful information, in his book Quiet Leadership.

Thank you for an excellent magazine. It could only be surpassed by being translated to French. Keep up the good work.
Stéphane Parent  •  Premiere Toastmasters 2738-45  •  Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada 

Less is More
I found the My Turn article “From Tragedy to Triumph” by Darcy Keith, in the November issue both inspiring and disturbing. I found inspiration in her ability to get her life back on track after suffering critical injuries in an automobile accident. I found disturbance in her decision to use her Toastmasters skills to expand the intrusion of government into our lives still further with more paternalistic seat belt laws.

I joined Toastmasters in part because I advocate less, not more, intrusion of government into our lives. Sadly, government usually invites “testimony” from those who support its growth rather than its reduction. I hope Ms. Keith will reconsider her position as it stands squarely at odds with a foundational concept of a free society, namely self-responsibility.
Luther Setzer, ATM-B  •  Islander Toastmasters Club 5547-47  •  Kennedy Space Center, Florida 

Conquering the Jitters
I enjoyed reading Judi Bailey’s “Beauty and the Beast” article in the December 2007 issue. She really brought out some key points I have read previously in other magazines. She’s correct in stating that even famous actors “suffered from apprehension prior to their performances.”

I still feel those apprehensive jitters even when I present, but I use that energy as a positive for my speech. A nice technique I learned from a former member is to breathe – inhale and exhale slowly – before going up to the lectern to present.
I suggest having a cool beverage handy to help keep the palate nice and moist. Good article!
Martha Moore, DTM  •  GVSU Club 4380-62  •  Allendale, Michigan 

Feeling Better? Write a Letter!
I recently received my Competent Communicator award by giving my 10th speech titled “Dear Editor.” The purpose was to inspire my fellow Toastmasters to write a letter to this magazine, by keeping it short and to the point. During the speech I asked each member to complete the following statement: “Toastmasters has given me...” They wrote their ideas down and I promised I would send them to you to publish. Here are the responses:

Toastmasters has given me...
“An opportunity I never got before to learn public speaking.”
“Hope that I can speak in small or large groups anxiety free.”
“Open-mindedness about people I may not otherwise have met, and lots of laughter.”
“An opportunity to not only practice my speaking skills but also to become an effective listener.”
“Confidence, courage and opportunity to share opinions.”
“The ability to achieve goals and meet new people.”
Simmi Fisher and members of Landmark Toastmasters Club  •  New Berlin, Wisconsin

Do you have something to say? Write it in 200 words or less, sign it with your name, address and club affiliation and send it to letters@toastmasters.org.