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May 2024
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A Toastmasters Family

How my membership inspired my daughter.

By Todd Bryant

Man and young girl posing with Table Topics ribbon
Todd Bryant and daughter Cambrie Bryant

One evening as I tucked in my 6-year-old daughter, Cambrie, she asked, “When can I come to a Toastmasters meeting, Daddy?” I’ve been a member of Citrus Toastmasters in Orlando, Florida, since 2017, so Cambrie and her 4-year-old brother, Colton, have grown up with some of Daddy’s Toastmasters ribbons in their rooms.

Years ago, a fellow club member brought his daughter to a meeting, but she was much older than mine is. Was Cambrie ready to attend a Toastmasters meeting? I decided she was. After all, she’s had the gift of speech and language skills from a very young age. And from dance, to tumbling, to cheerleading, Cambrie has yet to shy away from a stage in front of large groups.

In that way, she’s like me. I have always been comfortable onstage in front of an audience. From giving speeches in high school and college to speaking at my alma mater, the University of Central Florida, I’ve loved the rush of getting in front of a crowd and saying something meaningful. I’ve seen the impact that being able to speak effectively has had on my life, and on others’. Even though it would be years before she would be eligible to join, I wanted my daughter to get comfortable speaking in front of a group at an early age.

Building my financial practice now takes top priority in my professional life. However, public speaking has continued to be a passion of mine, and speaking to groups is a big part of what I do. Toastmasters helps with that. A year after I joined Citrus Toastmasters, I advanced to the District level of the International Speech Contest.

Cambrie and I talked a lot about Toastmasters leading up to the big day of attending a club meeting. We had dinner at the club where our Toastmasters meetings are held, and we practiced giving a speech in the empty room. There were quite a few times she said she was too nervous and didn’t want to go. I told her there was no pressure and we didn’t have to go if she didn’t want to.

Although Cambrie was still nervous about speaking, she wanted to push forward. She showed up, shook hands with other Toastmasters, and looked them in the eye as she introduced herself.

Practicing public speaking from an early age can put our children ahead of the curve personally and professionally.

When it came to Table Topics®, she knew this was the big moment she had prepared for. Cambrie was the final person picked and she bravely walked up to the front of the room. The question was about her favorite television show. Cambrie went on to delight the crowd with a story about Bake Squad, a baking-competition show. At the end of the meeting, she won the ribbon for best Table Topics speaker!

The best part was she even beat her old man, who also participated in Table Topics that day. I was so proud of my 6-year-old in a room full of businesspeople.

When I joined Toastmasters, I did so to further my professional career. However, I had no idea that Toastmasters would also further my role as a father and produce such a wonderful memory between me and my daughter.

Now more than ever, I feel the benefits of Toastmasters. Being able to speak eloquently in front of others is a skill that will never go away, and practicing public speaking from an early age can put our children ahead of the curve personally and professionally. The various club meeting roles, including timer, grammarian, and evaluator, have also taught me important multi-tasking and time-management skills, which have translated well to parenthood.

Cambrie looks forward to attending future Toastmasters meetings and joining when she’s older. But within the competitive Bryant household, her younger brother, Colton, is waiting in the wings. He has seen his sister’s Toastmasters ribbon proudly displayed on her bookshelf, and he will undoubtedly be ready when his time comes.


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