Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Team Pete Toastmasters conquer horror of oratory

By Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.    Although Toastmasters may sound like an organization dedicated to dominating a particular breakfast staple, Team Pete’s Toastmasters are rather a friendly bunch with a passion for speaking and speaking well.

This week the Toastmasters gathered once again to hone their skills at the base chapel Oct. 21 for their weekly meeting.

Founded by Dr. Ralph Smedley in 1924, Toastmasters has grown from a handful of people in a Santa Ana, Calif., YMCA basement to more than 313,000 members in 126 countries helping those among its ranks improve and master the skill of public speaking.

Lt. Col. Kevin Whaley, Peterson Toastmasters president, echoed Smedley’s sentiment, “The unprepared speaker has the right to be afraid,” while recounting a briefing he’d bombed 13 years earlier.

Whaley said as a young Intel lieutenant, he’d briefed a general who was less than impressed with his speaking abilities and pulled no punches when sharing his critiques with Whaley.

An invaluable lesson Whaley took from this experience was people often make judgments based on two criterions: one’s appearance and one’s ability to speak properly.

“If you’re not speaking in front of people very often, you lose it,” Whaley said about the skill of speechmaking.

He added that Toastmasters is not only something that’s fun, but also a great opportunity to network and meet people from other units around base.

One of the newest members that day was 1st Lt. Vinh Le, Air Force Space Command A8 assistant executive officer.

Hoping simply for an introduction of Toastmasters, Le endured a trial by fire when his name was drawn to give a two-minute impromptu speech on a topic chosen by the chapter president.

Afterwards Le — no worse for the wear — stated Toastmasters is great because of the benefits it offers, particularly for those just beginning their military careers.

“You’re always going to be talking to someone, especially in a job like mine where you’re often giving briefings to senior officers,” said Le.

Considering 2014 marks the Toastmasters 90th year of “breaking the ice,” the Team Pete chapter will host a Toastmasters demo meeting Nov. 4 in room 1 of the base chapel. Whaley explained this meeting will be an orientation to Toastmasters for anyone who has thought about joining.

For more information about Toastmasters visit or stop into the base chapel for a local chapter meeting. Meetings are held every Tuesday from 11:35 a.m.-12:35 p.m.

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