PORTLAND - A 25-year-old Portland man is the “toast” of the Toastmasters.
Ryan Avery captured the title of public speaking world champion in a competition in Orlando, Florida.
“I’m from the 'like' generation where I say 'like' every five words,” he explained.
His dad suggested he join Toastmasters as a away to improve his public speaking skills for his job.
“He said he’d pay for my first six months so that’s what got me started.”
Avery is the Marketing Director for Special Olympics Oregon.
“I wanted to improve the way I was getting our message out,” he said.
He started attending weekly meetings where he assembled a team of 10 Toastmasters mentors.
His wife also became his coach, listening to him practice up to eight hours a day.
”We have a good team dynamic. I can say things like 'your face looks really weird when you are saying that' and he can take it,” remarked Chelsea Avery.
They spent countless hours practicing at the Special Olympics warehouse next to Ryan’s Macadam Avenue office.
“She would throw pens at me and try to distract me,” remembered Ryan.
His winning speech was called “Trust is a Must.” It highlighted lessons he learned about trust from his Mom and how they impacted his thoughts on his wedding day.
“By the time I gave that speech at the championship, it had been revised 27 times,” Ryan remembered.
It took six months of district and regional competitions to earn a spot in the finals. “When I won my dad hugged me and said 'that’s the best 50 bucks I’ve ever spent,'” said Ryan imitating his dad’s southern drawl.
Chelsea Avery will now be spending her own $50 to become a member of Toastmasters,
“That was part of our deal. If Ryan won, I had to join but I know I’ll benefit and I get to learn from the best,” she said as she smiled at her husband.