Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Many find public speaking voice at Oldsmar Toastmasters club

OLDSMAR — David Rivera was laid off from his Web design job in 2006. He knew he was extremely proficient in his job skills, but there was an element he thought he was falling short.

"I thought one of the reasons was because I wasn't able to communicate my ideas very well," said Rivera, 45, of Oldsmar. "I needed some help in that area."

Later at a networking group, someone suggested Toastmasters International as a resource. Rivera attended and became a member of the Oldsmar Top of the Morning Toastmaster International club.

Meeting 7:30 a.m. every Wednesday, Rivera worked his way through the levels and became the president of the club.

"I realized what a good group this was and I was exercising good speaking abilities every week," said Rivera, who ended is one-year stint as president last week. "It wasn't a book, a CD or something you were doing on your own. You have projects and goals and every week you receive valuable feedback. They absolutely have helped me."

Toastmasters International was started in 1924 and helps build solid pubic speaking skills. Whether it's the ability to speak in front of large groups or in social settings, the organization claims to help to build confidence in any communications situation.

"I had a need in my life because I had a fear of public speaking," said Arnie Milnes, 59, of Tarpon Springs, the owner of A Arnie's Dependable Appliance Service. "I knew I was going to have to have help to face my fears, so I joined Toastmasters."

Milnes is now the president of the Oldsmar club, which started in 2002. Though the club's membership has fluctuated, there were about 20 people at the June 30 meeting. Several speeches were given at the meeting.

With great detail and controlled emotion, Karen Kelliher told the group that life is full of embarrassing moments and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it but laugh.

Kelliher, of Odessa, weaved a hilarious tale about going to a night club with a friend. Feeling like she was the best looking woman in the club because all eyes were on her, she was later told by a professional hockey player that she had toilet paper dangling from the back of her skirt.

James Simms of Tampa talked about the day the music died. It was in 1984 when his nephew was murdered. He incorporated the tragic deaths last week of two Tampa police officers. He passed around a picture of his nephew.

There are several Toastmasters chapters throughout the Tampa Bay area and they are open to everyone. Each person is given a goal to meet and they are evaluated on those goals.

"We try to find out what their goals are so we can try and meet them," Rivera said. "We try to have people come and test it out. They see how important communicating with the public is and you are so much more enriched by it."

Chris Kanclerowicz of Tampa is one of those who visited before joining the club five months ago. A Web developer who is hearing impaired and uses hearing aides, Kanclerowicz said he struggled having basic conversations with people.

"I'm a computer geek and I didn't have a lot of public speaking skills," said Kanclerowicz, 25. "I network a lot better now. Even on the phone, I'm carrying on a much better conversation than I would before."

Contact Demorris A. Lee or (727) 445-4174.

. Fast facts


There are several Toastmasters International chapters in Tampa Bay. Anyone can attend a meeting at no charge. To join, there is a $20 membership fee and national dues are $27 annually. To check out clubs throughout Tampa Bay, visit

The local club

The Oldsmar Top of the Morning Toastmasters club meets every Wednesday 7:30 a.m. at Aston Gardens 12951 W. Linebaugh Ave., Tampa. Local dues are $24. For more information, visit www. or contact David Rivera at (727) 278-9888 or e-mail him

Many find public speaking voice at Oldsmar Toastmasters club 07/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What to watch this weekend: 'GLOW,' second season of 'Preacher'


    Ready to rumble: GLOW

    Four words: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Yes, the fluorescent, body-slamming soap opera GLOW starring a cast of exaggerated characters is back, this time as a fictionalized Netflix series. Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) stars as Ruth, a down-on-her-luck actor …

    Alison Brie, left, and Betty Gilpin in GLOW on Netflix.
  2. Exploratory Lab Boot Camp provides real-life technology training to students


    CLEARWATER — At this graduation ceremony featuring some of the brightest local minds in tech, it was the youngsters who stood out.

    Laszlo Leedy, 17, a senior at Shorecrest Prep, presents part of his team's project for SPC's Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. Students presented their ideas at the end of the SPC Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. The program provides real-time business training to students. This year's graduation celebrated 15 students that finished the program. 
[JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  3. Editorial: Trump, not military, should set troop levels in Afghanistan


    There is no task more solemn for any American president than the decision to send troops off to war. In delegating authority over troops levels in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, President Donald Trump has shirked his obligation to own and defend his Afghan policy, while further divorcing America's military strategy there …

  4. North Korea says it's 'biggest victim' in U.S. student's death (w/video)


    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Friday called itself the "biggest victim" in the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and died days after being released in a coma.

    Mourners line the street after the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, died this week, days after returning to the United States. [Associated Press]
  5. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft


    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]