Statistics show that one in four people experiences a fear of public speaking. However, speaking in front of others is something everyone must do at some point in their life. Whether it’s a wedding speech or a conversation with your co-workers, communication is an unavoidable part of life. Luckily, for Daktronics, we have a master among us—a Toastmaster that is.
Chad Johnson, a quality/test engineer in Redwood Falls (MN), was named 2018 Toastmaster of the Year. Johnson was nominated for this prestigious award and received it at a ceremony in September. He is also a founding charter member of the Redwood Falls division of Toastmasters International.
“I’ve very humbled, because I’m not the person that likes to draw attention to myself. Being a Toastmaster of the Year for a whole district is a bit overwhelming, because I don’t feel like I deserve it; but other people think it should be celebrated,” Johnson expressed.
Toastmasters is an international nonprofit organization that was founded in 1924. It helps develop time management, critical listening, feedback mentoring, and facilitation skills. Participants practice and learn skills by filling meeting roles, such as giving a prepared speech, an impromptu speech, or serving as a timer, evaluator, or grammarian. There are Daktronics Toastmaster clubs in both Brookings, South Dakota, and Redwood Falls.
Katie Schwing, HR professional services and president of the Brookings club, praises the organization, “My favorite quality that comes out of Toastmasters is confidence. You are in a safe space, where it is okay to make mistakes. Toastmasters is a resource that allows for improvement and gives you the strength and confidence to try anything you want to do.”
“We understand the power of being able to have the confidence in yourself. You can overcome fears in an atmosphere that makes you feel safe, but also be challenged to overcome fears and issues,” Johnson added. “Being able to see that firsthand is very rewarding. I always say that engineering is problem solving and to be able to problem solve, you have to be able to communicate both what the problem is and the solution you have found.”
As an engineer, Johnson uses what he’s learned daily. The ability to communicate ideas and problems to another person is a critical skill to have in any field, and is necessary in any profession. Johnson uses his speaking skills outside of the workplace as well. He is an active member of his local Lions chapter and other service organizations.
Johnson continues to improve his communication skills with Toastmasters, saying, “I’m still working on it. I don’t put my thoughts together well and this organization focuses on this improvement. I don’t do a lot of public speaking, but it’s not always about that. It’s about being a better communicator to my co-workers and community. Being able to get your point across and make sure you are heard well.”
Ryas Olson, a quality/test engineer in Brookings (SD) and VP of Public Relations for the Brookings Chapter and the 2016 Toastmaster of the Year, said, “There are a lot of other clubs in competition, so you are up against some top leaders. Chad always welcomes people with a big friendly smile, he’s our biggest cheerleader. He definitely deserves this Toastmaster award. He represents everything positive about Toastmasters.”
Having two Daktronics employees receive the Toastmasters of the Year Award is an honor. It shows the dedication to excellence these individuals have and their constant drive for improvement, both professionally and personally.
Bruce Tiffany, Minnesota ag producer, entrepreneur, a member of the Redwood Falls club, and one of the individuals who nominated Johnson for the award, said, “From the very beginning of the club, Chad was active. Chad has filled every meeting role there is and does it with confidence.” Tiffany continued, “He goes about his responsibilities without fanfare or drama and just gets the task done. Chad is also an advocate at Daktronics for Toastmasters and shares what the program can do for a person and the company.”
Toastmasters is a wonderful way to improve all communications skills, including practice speeches, impromptu speaking, conversational skills, and leadership. The Brookings club meets in room 23B1 every Thursday from 12-1 p.m. and the Redwood Falls club meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 4:45 – 5:45 p.m. All are welcome to watch the proceedings or to join the club.
This story is by Erin Smith
in Employee Communications.