Not Every Great Communicator Starts Out That Way

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Not every great communicator starts out that way. As Secretary of The Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt bored his audience to tears. (Photo Library of Congress)

As an executive speech coach and creator of Fripp Virtual Training my clients include corporate leaders, celebrity speakers, well-known sports and media personalities, and even political candidates. Mastery of public speaking is a essential for public office.  If you feel the call to leadership, but you’re intimidated by public speaking, remember that with help and practice anyone can learn how to speak in public with confidence. My friend, Sims Wyeth, author of The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking, notes,Churchill fainted at his first speech in Parliament. As Secretary of The Navy, FDR bored people to tears. Bill Clinton was booed at the 1988 Democratic Convention for his long-windedness. Yet all three are now known as brilliant communicators.” As we reflect on our Nation’s recent midterm elections, I share this from Toastmasters on the role of public speaking in politics, public office, and leadership itself.

Toastmasters Experience Benefits those Seeking Public Office

For the past 90 years, the global speaking and leadership organization has helped politicians hone their skills.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif., Nov. 6, 2014 — From Abraham Lincoln to the Roosevelts to John F. Kennedy, some of the United States’ most celebrated presidents were also masters of the oratory. Toastmasters didn’t exist when Lincoln delivered the “Gettysburg Address” or when Theodore Roosevelt gave inspirational speeches to Americans at the turn of the 20th century, but for the past 90 years, many lawmakers have benefited by honing and practicing their leadership and communication skills in Toastmasters.

Senator Pat Roberts
“If you want to be a good communicator… consider joining Toastmasters.” – Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas

Whether it’s a city council member or a United States governor, the ability to connect with potential voters is key for any politician seeking election. To develop, practice and enhance their communication skills, politicians will attend a Toastmasters club meeting where its members can not only help them with their speech, but also give them an opportunity to deliver their message to a diverse audience who will provide valuable feedback.

“My Toastmasters experience was invaluable in preparing me for my campaign for mayor,” says Tom Tait, recently re-elected mayor of Anaheim, California. “Before I joined Toastmasters, I had a very real fear of public speaking. Through the support of my club I overcame that fear to the point where now I actually enjoy public speaking. I highly recommend Toastmasters to anyone interested in running for public office.”

Seasoned politicians, such as recently re-elected Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, recognize the benefit of regular public speaking practice. “Toastmasters keeps you on your toes,” he says. “If you want to be a good communicator I think it would be very helpful to consider joining Toastmasters.”

Toastmasters International Past President Gary Schmidt has served as a top aide of two United States senators and witnessed the impact Toastmasters can have on people seeking and serving political office. “Toastmasters helps people in every profession, but especially in politics,” he says. “Leadership is an essential component in public service and as many people have said, you can be a communicator and not a leader – but to be a leader you have to be a communicator.”

Toastmasters International LogoWhether oratory serves as a catalyst for political success or other professional accomplishments, it is a skill anyone can learn. Toastmasters offers its time-tested tips on video to help speakers to best connect with their audience.

About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, visit Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp is hired by individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.