Toastmasters, more than just public speaking

  • Published
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s note: The mention of the nonprofit organization, Toastmasters International, does not constitute endorsement of affiliation by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base or the U.S. Air Force.

Sometime in an Airman’s career, they will have the opportunity to get up in front of an audience and give a briefing or a lecture. For some Airmen this could be a phobia, a fear of public speaking. It is a common phobia, but one that could be overcome through practice.

A place for Airmen to practice public speaking is at Toastmasters International.

“Toastmasters International has weekly meetings that are fun and non-threatening as we practice our public speaking skills in a relaxed and organized environment,” said Greg Pleasant, Firemouth Toastmasters president.

Firemouth Toastmasters is the local club at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Every Thursday, Airmen, their family members and retirees can attend the free one-hour meetings held at the Professional Development Center at 11:30 a.m.

“During the meetings, functional roles are assigned, such as a timer, grammarian, “ah” counter and table topics master. These roles help us improve our public speaking skills," said Pleasant. "In addition, we teach leadership development.”

This club not only focuses on public speaking, it offers leadership development as well. The leadership development path focuses on learning how to manage time, understanding your leadership style and how to lead a team.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Williams, an Airmen Leadership School instructor, joined the Firemouth Toastmasters in April 2013, to overcome his fear of public speaking, but the club also prepared him for his future leadership role.

“I thought the meeting was just about people talking, and had no idea that there was purpose and deliberate development associated with it,” said Williams. “Firemouth Toastmasters has been a transformative experience, I’m a much better leader and person because of it.”

Since 2010, Firemouth Toastmasters has been shaping Airmen to be become future leaders at DM. One such Airman was U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kodi Bailey, 333rd Training Squadron Superintendent at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. Bailey joined back when he was a Tech. Sgt. stationed at DM.

“I am extremely proud to be a member of Toastmasters and blessed to find Greg Pleasant early in my career to mentor, guide and encourage me to be my best self,” said Bailey. “Public speaking is a leadership requirement, so why not work to hone this critical skill alongside a team of members with the same goal; to improve public speaking in a supportive and fun environment.”