How did Ed Tate become a world champion of public speaking?

Delighted to share my journey on the "Your Intended Message" podcast with George Torok. I took a trip down memory lane to my Toastmasters days - a year-long competition that not only made me a world champion of public speaking but totally redirected my life. A lot of gratitude for that member who believed in me – more than I did! #PublicSpeaking #Toastmasters

Revealed a bit of my personal life on the "Your Intended Message" podcast. It wasn't always smooth sailing. I used to stutter and had my fair share of career setbacks. But joining Toastmasters changed that for me. It helped me overcome my fears and rebuild my confidence. Remember, it's never too late to reinvent yourself. #PersonalJourney #OvercomingFear

Discussed the power of video in improving public speaking skills on the "Your Intended Message" podcast. There's a huge difference between practicing in front of a mirror and in front of a camera. The latter gives you true feedback. Trust me, seeing yourself on video can be a game-changer. #PublicSpeakingTips #SelfAwareness

Had a candid conversation about the importance of storytelling in business presentations on George Torok's "Your Intended Message" podcast. Just like your favorite song, a good story can be heard again and again. It's not about coming up with new tales each time, but about delivering them in a way that resonates. #Storytelling #BusinessCommunications

On the "Your Intended Message" podcast, I shared an advice I often give to young recruits – focus on the content and the audience. If you're able to improve your audience's condition, you're a good speaker. Let go of that self-consciousness, it's all about them, not you. #PublicSpeakingAdvice #AudienceFocused


Ed Tate discusses Toastmasters and how his experience changed his life.


So there's an organization called Toastmasters International. If you're curious, go to Toastmasters. Org. It's been around in excess of 80 years. And in my opinion, this is my definition of Toastmasters. It's the the best place on earth for you to improve your confidence. And they help you improve your confidence in two different areas. Number one, leadership development. So it's a place for you to safely practice your leadership skills.

(00:02:33) - And number two, public speaking. They've had this contest. It's called the World Championship of Public Speaking. It's a year long competition. There are six different rounds and anywhere from 25 to 35,000 contestants worldwide. And the year 2000, I won the entire competition. And I will say this it completely changed the trajectory of my life. Enter the competition at the Ascension. 

The assistance of one of my members in my local Toastmasters club in Denver, Colorado. And clearly he saw something in me that honestly I didn't see in myself. And he actually harassed me for a year and a half to enter the competition. And finally I had a conversation with him and I said, All right, here's the deal. I'm going to enter this darn contest and the moment I lose, we'll never have this competition. We'll never have this conversation again. And I did not lose. And again, it's completely changed the trajectory of my life. I have I've had a 20 plus year career as a professional speaker. Absolutely love it.

(00:03:37) - Again, I met my wife while I was on tour in South Africa and again, I just absolutely enjoyed it. But anyway, that's what Toastmasters is about, is one of the best places in the world for you to improve your confidence. 

I'm curious, Ed, you said it changed your life entirely. So so you're saying you did not join Toastmasters because you wanted to be a professional speaker? Why did you join Toastmasters? 

Okay, so I'm a former executive in the computer industry and I'm a, you know, I'm a sales guy, if you will. So what had happened was I had just recently joined a software company, and there's a friend of mine, her name is Nancy Sperry. And and my boss would, you know, he would tell me, go out there and, you know, socialize network, if you will. And we heard about this organization called Toastmasters, and there was Chair Creek Toastmasters in Denver, Colorado. They had over 150 members. And so apparently, you know, they had it was going to be a big meeting.

(00:04:34) - So my boss said, get out there, you know, meet these people. So I went there originally to network and I just really, really enjoyed it. And by the way, the conversation I had with Nancy, she say, I'm going to this group called Toastmasters tomorrow. Do you want to come with me? Because we work for the same company? I said, Well, sure. And she says, I said, What time do me. She's just 7:00. This is all right. I'll pick you up tomorrow night. 

So it's 7:00 in the morning. I said 7:00 in the morning. And this group is called Toastmasters. And I'm thinking to myself, these people are drinking in the morning. I want to see this, you know. So I was so disappointed that first meeting there was no alcohol. There was like no toast, nothing. They did. They just had coffee and tea and water, you know? But that's how I got involved.

(00:05:20) - I had met my tribe, if you will. You know, I immediately hit it off. I enjoyed it a great deal. And again, that was not my purpose, my intention at all. My my. You know, I just like the socialization. It did help me with my confidence because I had I lost a political battle working for in a Fortune 500 company, and I had been removed from the company. So I was still my ego was still hurting from that particular circumstances. 

And Toastmasters was the perfect place for me to rebound. And along the way, I take it you you became better as a presenter, as a public speaker, is that fair to say? Oh, absolutely. Well, let me give you some backstory. So I'm a stutterer. There's no cure for stuttering. Now, you probably know this and your and your listeners and your viewers would know this as well. Children can be the cruelest people on earth. So when you're a kid and you stutter, you become you become a victim.

(00:06:22) - You get bullied a lot. And so my dad was in the military. We would move every 18 months to a new city. So I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I remember I was I was eight years old. And we're about to move we're about to move back to Chicago, this time to a different neighborhood. And I was I was determined that this these kids would not find out about my stuttering problem. 

So I did a couple of things. Number one, every day before school and after school, I would read magazines out loud. I then I had this brilliant idea in my neighborhood. Kids played basketball outdoors all the time. So I said, Hey, I'm going to be a play by play announcer. So I walked up to the kids. I said, Who's your favorite, you know, player? I memorized all the names. And I did play by play on the playground. My only purpose was to make sure that people would not make fun of me in terms of stuttering.

(00:07:15) - So we moved to the new neighborhood. Guess what? None of the kids know that Ed's a stutterer and I don't have a severe case, but I double clutch. I do stammer occasionally. If I get nervous, it's very, very obvious. So from there, I went to a high school, South Shore High School in Chicago. They had a television studio, so I became a news anchor. 

For the next four years, I go to the University of Illinois and I actually get a job as a disc jockey, not the student run radio station, but the actual local radio station. I become the number one disc jockey for the next five years. And by the way, that's how I earned my way through college. And then I became an executive in the computer industry. I became a spokesperson. So all these things in my background set the foundation for me ultimately competing in the world championship of public speaking. So again, as I look back, you know, you know, you can't connect the dots looking forward, as Steve Jobs says, you can only connect the dots looking backwards.

(00:08:12) - So as I connect my dots, looking backwards, that's the thing that actually set me up to become successful as a world champion. So I find that curious and and perhaps even inspiring because it's because of your, your flaws and and shortcomings that actually enabled you to excel because you you address those flaws. Absolutely. And again, I was driven. So I wasn't driven by, like you said, joining Toastmasters to become a professional speaker. No. If you look at my childhood, I was driven not to be made fun of, not to be bullied, because that that was my that was my motivation. 

And looking back on it, my weakness became it became a strength. What lessons did you gain from Toastmasters that you now. Help business presenters present a stronger presentation. What are the the strongest lessons that you gained that you convey to your clients to deliver a strong business presentation? Number one, fear is not real. And what do I mean by that? So a lot of people, you know, I'm sure I'm pretty sure you've heard this statistic.

The number one fear is public speaking. That's not true at all. The number one fear is public embarrassment. It's public humiliation. 

That's what what people really, really fear. So they fear being embarrassed. The other thing is, I talk about, hey, I'm a stutterer. I won the world championship of public speaking. You don't have that flaw. What's your excuse? Okay, so let's get over this fear right away. And this is a skill that can be learned like any other skill. You just need to put in time and effort and energy. 

So like with any skill, initially you suck at it. If you try something new. Just don't stay at suck. That's the key here. The other thing when I'm coaching my clients is I require them to to use video to record themselves. For example, one of the things about Cherry Creek Toastmasters is they were the only club in the city of Denver at the time that recorded every single one of our presentations. I think that gave me a competitive advantage, looking again, connecting the dots, looking backwards.