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East Syracuse: Toastmasters honor Driscoll

The stress, anxiety, and clammy hands that can come with just the thought of addressing a large audience are enough to shy some people away from public speaking altogether. Thankfully, there is an established organization that recognizes these problematic symptoms and has been helping people purge them for more than 80 years.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that teaches skills in public speaking and leadership. National Director Tammy Miller believes the angle of Toastmasters is ever much wider.

"A lot of people think that we are a public speaking organization," she said. "I never promote us that way because we are communication building and leadership building. We do some presentations, but we also learn one on one, impromptu speaking, how to run a meeting, what it takes to be an effective leader, etc. There are a lot of different aspects to what our organization offers."

Miller emphasized that "anyone who talks" is a perfect candidate to become a member.

"You have no idea what is in you," she said. "And you have no idea what you might be asked to do, what you're preparing for. Something might happen in your life, job, home, whatever. Anyone [can] benefit from our programs."

Miller pointed out that while teaching interactive skills is the core of the organization, there is yet another intangible component that comes from going through the program -- building confidence.

"It's amazing what happens to people," Miller said. "[They] take a little step and say, "I can do this."

Lorraine Mott, fellow Toastmaster and Crouse Hinds employee, agreed.

"It's very scary in the beginning," Mott said. "I hyperventilated the first time I had to speak."

But with continual practice, Mott said it got easier and easier.

"I received a career advancement because of this [club]," she said. "I've been asked to emcee, give presentations and workshops that I never would have thought of doing before."

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