Friday, May 2, 2014

The value of public speaking for our youth

Recently my fellow Toastmaster in Tampa, Joe Jones was presented an outstanding leadership award. Below is the letter he wrote to his area Governor, John Morse DTM, and the response from the student.

When I was presented the Toastmaster award by you, I mentioned Aldo Colon, the 14 year old kid that started me on this youth program journey, who turned 18 recently. I told him how he was instrumental in starting the youth program which contributed to the Toastmaster honor. Yesterday I received this email (copied below) from Aldo. This is proof that these youth programs have an impact beyond what we know. I’m going to Aldo’s district competition, and I’m going to pay his first years dues in the Toastmaster club of his choice.

York, keep up the good work – you know how these programs work better than anyone.

Hi Joe,

I am extremely glad to hear from you! I am touched that the club was able to expand and influence more people than I would have ever imagined. I am thankful to God that he used me to pour blessings beyond comprehension to you! Out of all the Toastmasters I have become familiar with over the years, there is still not one that I have met as great as you. In all honesty, if it were not for your help I would not be in the position I am today. The Toastmasters training I have received has helped me grow as a student, leader, and person. I am astounded at the things God has done for you through the seeds I sowed. However, I would like to take the time to tell you the fruits of the seeds you sowed four years ago.

Coming into high school I had more courage than any of my peers when it came to public speaking. I was able to skillfully give presentations, and hold conversations with my superiors with confidence and dignity like no one in my class could. For some time this was all I was able to make use of my training. However, as I progressed in my studies, my English teacher Mrs. Ledman noticed my skill in public speaking at a poetry reading. Mrs. Ledman suggested I use my "talent" more often. At that moment, the skills you taught me brought back exponential results. As part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program examinations, I needed to converse with my teacher about literature we had studied in class. I was able to effortlessly pass with flying colors. Although there were many other speaking exams which I had passed, the fruits of the seeds you sowed were not confined to solely the academic realm. I joined the debate club at my school and won the "Best Speaker Award." I then was elected in to offices of clubs such as the office of Treasurer of the National History Honor Society and the office of President of National Spanish Honor society. My reputation as a speaker began to grow around school. It grew to the point where I was personally asked to guest speak at clubs around the school, and I was eventually able to establish mini-seminars helping students around my school gain confidence in public speaking modeled after the 8-week course I enrolled in as a fourteen year old. Public speaking molded my resume and allowed me to gain acceptance into top universities such as Brandeis University and the University of Florida. I was even able to beat out seven other competitors in a group interview for a job. However, the fruits continue to yield.

This week was the school wide Tropicana Speech competition. Mrs. Ledman had signed me up for the competition but I had put the competition in the back burner as I am in the midst of preparing for college and finishing high school strong. Eventually, the day of the competition came and I had no speech to give because I had completely forgot about the competition. I showed up to the competition to tell Mrs. Ledman that I would be dropping out because I had no speech and was totally unprepared. Mrs. Ledman told me to "wing it" as she had faith in my skills as a public speaker. So, I was forced to compete without a speech. I kept thinking of your impacting quote, "People will never remember what you said, but people will always remember how you made them feel" which has now become the motto and foundation of my public speaking career. I gave myself a topic I was extremely familiar with, and treated the competition as a four-minute table topic. I watched my competitors as each one spoke. Although they were prepared with power point presentations and note cards, they did not have the poise, grace, and elocution that only proper training from a polished expert such as yourself can bring. I took to the lectern with confidence and gave my four-minute impromptu speech. I won first place. Below is the link to my school web site acknowledging my victory.

That being said, it would be an honor to have you come watch me at the district level competition on May 10th. You have impacted my life beyond comprehension and I know without a shadow of a doubt that without your place in my life, I would not be where I am today. You too have impacted a number of other students and I know that your training will bear even more fruit in my life as I begin my collegiate career.

Thank you for all you have done in my life and continue to do in the life of others! You deserve that award! Thank you!

My warmest regards,


Joe teaches his Toastmaster Youth Leadership Program in Tampa. If you know students who might be interested, please contact him.
Joe H. Jones

Please see the YSTA-summer speech program bellow

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