Turning Your Greatest Struggle Into Your Greatest Strength Tom Iland
The act of speaking comes easy to most, you learn how to do it from watching your parents and the people around you. You master it quickly and get used to hearing your own voice. However, when you add the suspense of peering eyes from an audience and the stress of keeping their attention with insightful words and phrases you have something far from what you’ve come accustomed to. Public speaking can be a very frightening experience for so many people. Studies have shown that “glossophobia”, as it is formally known, is one of the largest phobias people have above clowns, heights and holes! Recently, Tom Iland (pronounced “island”), a Santa Clarita resident with autism; was awarded the title of being a Toastmasters International Accredited Speaker. “I wanted to get this designation, so I could show myself, my peers and really the world, that even though I have a social communicative disorder like autism I can still learn and master the art of public speaking.
Winning this award was no easy feat. To attain this designation, Tom had to undergo a very extensive process. Firstly, he had to show that he possessed above and beyond skills with respect to socializing and communication and such skills were utilized in his line of work. Secondly, Tom completed 25 speaking engagements of which 15 were paid. He submitted several letters of recommendation from past clients, community leaders, and his peers. Lastly, Tom put together a 25 to 45-minute video of him speaking and then had to do a live speech that was judged and graded. I went and spoke at an international convention in front of about 1000 people.
Tom has been on a journey of self-improvement and has found mastering public speaking is one of his greatest accomplishments. “With a lot of practice and experience over the years I have become more articulate, this organization [Toastmasters] has really helped me come out of my shell, discover my message and solidify my craft.” For years Tom has been working to educate the community and further as a keynote speaker covering topics on the various aspects of autism through outlets such as TEDx, several universities to include Loyola-Marymount University, California State University Northridge and University of Redlands. “I’ve done breakout sessions and have been educating the public especially the police for years about autism.” This past December, Tom was asked to speak at the United Nations for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities,” I spoke on a panel of international dignitaries discussing the benefits of inclusion of persons with disabilities in today’s society”.
Author, motivational speaker and consultant, Tom spends his time always improving and helping others improve their social and communication skills through public speaking. Tom is very active in the Santa Clarita community, volunteering often with such organizations as Junior Chamber International (JCI) Santa Clarita. “I am committed to making a difference and making the world a better place by serving humanity starting in my hometown of Santa Clarita.” Tom feels he has found his calling and travels all over the nation teaching others to “Know yourself, Love yourself and Be yourself”.
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