Eighteen years after joining the Toastmasters International organization, Tammy Miller was designated as an accredited speaker, becoming the first woman in Pennsylvania to do so.
Miller currently works part time at Penn State as the director of communications for the project Lunar Lion, which will be sending an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in running for the Google Lunar X-Prize to win $20 million for Penn State scholarships.
Angela Burrell, the public relations specialist at Toastmasters International, said those who had been designated as accredited speakers were an elite and prestigious group, making up 66 of the total 280,000 members.
“The first time I gave a presentation in a classroom, I was shaking so badly that I had to take one hand and put it down. I was a nervous wreck,” Miller said. “If someone told me that day that I would be an international speaker and travel all over the world, I would tell them they were crazy.”
Miller said to become an accredited speaker, she needed to submit an audition tape and make a speech at an international convention where they decided whether or not she would become a candidate.
Burrell said the speakers then needed to make 25 professional speeches over a period of three years and are required to give two additional presentations during the final round at a convention held in Orlando, Fla. in August.
“They saw someone who had grown over the years and someone who had exhibited the ability and skills they felt a public speaker must have,” Burrell said of Miller.
Burrell said winning the accredited speaker title adds confidence and ability level as well as credibility to the speaker.
Dilip Abayasekara, who won the accredited speaker title in 1996, said he and Miller are the only accredited speakers from Pennsylvania.
“It takes a lot of discipline and work to get to the point where you are good enough to earn it,” he said. “It’s that journey that makes us as good we can be. We never stop, we’re always journeying and always asking how to get better.”
Miller said she has also written three books, one of which is about effective communication skills.
“The organization has clearly changed my life,” Miller said.