Corporate

#AdobeLife at Home: Speech Lessons from Toastmaster Michael Leadon

April 29, 2020

How are people spreading joy at home? Our #AdobeLife at Home series is all about highlighting how our community of passionate employees are doing just that. Through this series, we’ll be featuring Adobe employees who want to teach our readers new skills—from emotional wellbeing tips to creative online classes. Here’s how they’re spreading joy.

As the President of the Toastmasters club in our Adobe San Jose Headquarters, Michael Leadon knows a thing or two about giving amazing presentations. Toastmasters helps people improve their public speaking and leadership skills, and as someone who often presents to customers in his role as an Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Infrastructure Architect, these skills are invaluable.

When the pandemic hit, Michael knew very quickly that digital presentations would become the norm. He transitioned the Toastmasters club virtually, and to get their weekly meetings started digitally, he kicked off the first speech topic with tips on giving effective virtual presentations. Check out Michael’s video and read how he first got interested in Toastmasters.

How did you first get interested in public speaking/toastmasters?

I had always been afraid and nervous to speak in front of an audience.  I used to shake (and still do sometimes) when speaking. I noticed that every good leader has the ability to speak comfortably in front of an audience and didn’t think that that was just a coincidence. In my role as a consultant, I periodically  have to speak in front of customers, and realized that I wasn’t coming across confidently, which  was impacting my credibility. I remember walking past the Toastmasters club flyer for years, always saying I should join one day, but was a bit nervous not knowing what they really did. I found out that a friend on my floor was the past president, and he explained what they do. When I found out that I could just go and not say anything I decided to check it out.

What sparked that passion?

Once I went, I participated in the impromptu speech section of the meeting.  Everyone was saying that I was a good speaker. After I gave my first speech, people again commented that I was good. That made me want to keep doing it. I also volunteer teaching a course outside of work, and Toastmasters helps with that as well.

A big milestone was when we had our Open House in the Park conference room in February. We had over 100 people show up, with over a dozen people standing in the back. I was the Toastmaster for the event, and was comfortable speaking and felt like that was a milestone for my confidence.

The Toastmasters club is open to Adobe employees and non-employees. If you’re interested in joining, get in touch with me at mleadon@adobe.com.

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