On Toastmasters and Stuttering
Posted October 21, 2011on:
A friend who I haven’t heard from in a while checked in with me last night via our LinkedIn connection. He ran across my article I have written for the 2011 ISAD conference. If you haven’t read it, please do. Its called, “I Stutter! How In The World Can I Join Toastmasters?”
Tom had been a member of my current Toastmasters club for a little less than a year. He was a ball of fire – a man possessed in fact. He gave a speech at every opportunity there was for him to speak, and earned his Competent Communicator (CC) in about 6 months time.
He has now joined a club in the Baltimore area, and shares that he is on track – his track – to have his Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB) and Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB) by June of next year. I have no doubt. He’s one of those guys that sets a goal and goes after it quickly.
He commented on my paper and said he enjoyed reading it. I emailed him back and let him know I was gunning for my DTM – Distinguished Toastmaster – the highest award one can earn in Toastmasters. I’d like to earn that by next June, but it’s a lot of work and will take time and a big commitment.
Upon hearing that I was seeking DTM, his comment was, “HOLY CRAP – that is a stunning accomplishment. Congratulations.”
I wrote back and said something like, “yeah, not too bad for a woman who stutters, huh?”
And then he paid me a great compliment. Trust me – this man does not throw praise around casually. I read this several times and decided I should share this. I don’t think he’ll mind!
Well, here’s a personal impression. When I was in Capital Toastmasters people often praised you and your accomplishments, and almost always the sentiment was something like, “What a wonderful accomplishment for someone who stutters.” To be honest, that always bothered me. It felt as if they were saying that it’s especially impressive for you to succeed in TM because you are less capable than other people. In my mind, I never thought of you as a talented speaker for someone who stutters. I just thought of you as a talented speaker. Period. Not to diminish the obstacles that you have overcome, but my point is that you are a successful speaker by any standard, not just by the standard of a stutterer.
Thanks Tom! I think my colleague nailed the exact essence of Toastmasters. That it’s about our communication, our delivery and our message. Priceless piece of feedback.
Wouldn’t you agree?