Chiropractor tackles public speaking fears through Toastmasters

CADILLAC — Ron Jacobs excelled in science classes at Cadillac High School and went on to graduate from the Palmer College of Chiropractic. He has been a practicing chiropractor in Cadillac for 27 years. But one high school class terrified him — speech class.

"I was painfully shy in school," he said. "I would never purposely volunteer to answer questions or raise my hand even though I got 'A's. Public speaking was always a fear for me, even in college. I hated every minute of it, I was terrified. But the pain is lifting."

Jacobs tackled his fear of public speaking by accepting an invitation to a Toastmasters International open house in 2015.

Toastmasters International is an educational nonprofit organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Jacobs is now serving as the local president, a volunteer job that constantly challenges him to overcome his fears.

"I wanted to push myself and overcome my biggest fears," he said. "I've been the president of the club since July. I've done 20 speeches in the last two years. I would say I'm much better at speaking now and I don't have as much trepidation about it."

Jacobs has learned techniques that help him control the paralyzing butterflies.

"The humorous side of me has come out and people like my goofball side," he said. "I knew I liked to joke around, but I didn't know it was as much a part of me as I found out."

Now, he likes to watch others in the club become confident public speakers.

"It's fun to watch people totally change," he said. "I like to see them develop their leadership skills and become more confident. Members are always either speaking or developing leadership skills at every meeting. It's fun to watch people that were once hesitant volunteer without being asked."

The Cadillac Area Toastmasters is hosting an open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 22, at the Cadillac Wexford Public Library. To learn more, contact Ron Jacobs at (231) 920-0837.

Toastmasters meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday at Evergreen Resort.