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Toastmasters: Putting thoughts into words


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Lisa Olsson, Peterson Toastmasters member, and Mike Pierson, Air Force Space Command community outreach chief, holds up their trophies after winning the Toastmasters competition at the Cheyenne Mountain Library March 8, 2018. Their next competition will be April 28 at the Toastmasters District 26, Southern Division contest at the USAA Recreation Center against winners from clubs across Southern Colorado. (Courtesy photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Toastmasters learn to be better leaders through a proven program of leadership development and public speaking training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. No matter your age, background or experience, Toastmasters can make you a better leader and communicator.
Mike Pierson, Air Force Space Command community outreach chief, advanced to compete at local-area speech competitions in the prepared–speech category in Colorado Springs.

“A Toastmasters meeting has a few common elements,” said Pierson. “There are two prepared speeches and three extemporaneous speeches of 1-2 minutes each. Each of the prepared speakers hears immediate, supportive feedback from one of the other members based on the objectives the speaker was given for their speech.”

Some basic speech objectives include using visual aids and body movements while more advanced speeches require researching a topic or advocating a position.

The Peterson club began Nov. 1, 1983, and at its core includes seasoned public speakers, including a professional speaker and author, as well as less seasoned orators. Pierson got involved in Toastmasters after retiring from the Air Force in 2009. His goal was to improve his presentation skills beyond what he’d learned in the military and to meet new people.

“I think I've done both,” said Pierson. “I've been club president twice, the last time from July 2016-June 2017, so I'm now the immediate past president which is a mentoring role for the current president, Rosie Suerdieck.”

Pierson achieved the highest award level as a Distinguished Toastmaster after completing 35 speeches and holding various leadership positions in the organization in 2017. He hopes to advance to the World Championship of Public Speaking contest in Chicago, Illinois, in August, 2018.

“Winning at the World Championships would be like winning the Super Bowl as these are literally the best amateur speakers from clubs across the globe,” Pierson said. “Winning at that level usually means quitting your job, writing a book, and becoming a professional speaker, which would be a blast, but would be a completely new career for me. Winning isn't really my goal, I'm learning from the experience and trying to make a connection with whatever audience will listen to me.”

Pierson encourages anyone who wants to improve their speaking skills to give Toastmasters a try.

“We’re friendly, helpful and supportive,” said Pierson. “You'll achieve recognized goals which can help you be a better Airman or employee.”

Peterson Toastmasters meets every Tuesday, 11:35 a.m. - 12:35 p.m. at the Peterson Chapel. Everyone with base access is welcome to visit.
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