He’s the talk of the town

WEST END, July 24: Toastmasters has given West End’s Jock Elliott confidence, a career, friends worldwide and a wife.

Now he is aiming to top it all off by being crowned public speaking champion of the world.

Mr Elliott will next month travel to Calgary, Canada to compete in the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.

It is the seventh time he has competed at the championship, having placed third in the world in 1994.

Mr Elliott, who has a background in sales, has been a member of Toastmasters for more than 33 years.

He said he joined because he was good at telling jokes but felt uncomfortable speaking in public.

“I thought ‘this is silly, if you can tell a joke you ought to be able to speak,”’ he said.

Joining Toastmasters led to him meeting his wife and forging a career in public speaking, training and emceeing, through his company Speak Easy Presentation Skills Training.

“My only regret is I didn’t join more than 33 years ago,” he said.

The championship will see Mr Elliott take on speakers from around the world, with more than 8200 clubs taking part.

Each contestant must write their own seven-minute speech on a universal topic, with the winners going on to compete in three more levels.

The finals take place in front of about 1500 people.

Mr Elliott said fear of public speaking was rational but joining Toastmasters was the best advice he could give.

“It’s a normal fear we don’t want to make a fool of ourselves,” he said.

“But at Toastmasters, we’re all in the same boat … everyone can be better than average very quickly in a friendly, trusting and fully supportive environment.”

District 69 public relations officer Marilyn Freeman said they were “immensely proud” of Mr Elliott and knew he would give it his absolute best.

“The international speech contest audience, like any Toastmaster club, is always incredibly supportive of all competitors but having your own support team is always comforting and Jock won’t be without his Aussie supporters,” she said.

“About 26 Toastmasters from all over District 69 will be attending the conference and cheering Jock on as he steps up to the challenge … go Aussie go.”

The championship was first held in 1933, with about 25,000 contestants from around the world entering through their local club each year.

* Find a Toastmasters club at www.toastmasters.org.au.

Published Quest news July 2008. Article by Monique Ross