Airman sharpens leadership skills through speeches

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
To his friends, he may seem a bit more charismatic lately. To his leadership, he appears to be a stronger communicator. For the Airmen he supervises, he became a better listener.

For Staff Sgt. Ryan Lynn, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron construction management NCO in charge, life is a continuous opportunity to become a better version of himself. One of ways the he strives to be a better person is by meeting up with other like-minded people through a Toastmasters International club.

Individuals who attend Toastmasters, gather on a weekly basis to improve their communication skills.

"It's such a great learning experience and a fun atmosphere," said Lynn. "The professionalism and enthusiasm here is not found in many places. I feel I've been pretty lucky to be working with such a great group of people since I first joined in February."

While the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, Lynn said a Toastmasters meeting can be very nerve-racking experience for a newcomer, since the sessions revolve around public speaking and often put members on the spotlight. A small room of friendly listeners can appear to be daunting and cavernous to an inexperienced speaker.

Listeners provide Lynn with feedback after each speech he delivers. As a junior member, he paired up with an experienced mentor who has helped him to overcome challenges and prepare for future presentations.

"He naturally has a commanding style of speaking," said Deanna Schwarz, Lynn's mentor." The first speech he gave, he was very authoritarian, which can be a challenge for some people in uniform. Ryan worked hard to tone down his voice to a conversational level, and I think he has come a long way."

Public speaking is nothing new to Lynn. He practiced delivering speeches while in college, Airman Leadership School and work.

Training has made Lynn more proficient with prepared speeches; however, he is now primarily focusing on non-rehearsed speeches.

"The impromptu speech is one of the areas I have been lacking in," he said. "I'm trying to strengthen my ability to improvise because it can cross over to daily conversational skills."

The feedback helped Lynn identify his strongest and weakest attributes, which help him to create new speaking goals to improve on.

"To my Airmen, it's my role to know what I'm talking about," said Lynn. "If I was constantly stuttering and using filler words like, 'uh' and 'um,' it could lower my credibility with those individuals. They deserve to be led by a good communicator, so that's why I'm always looking to improve."

Lynn's motives are not limited to his current position. He considers his improving communication skills a future investment.

"The skills I develop here can help me to remain competitive for promotions," he said. "As you climb up the latter to superintendant positions, you tend to do a lot more public speaking, so it's going to help there as well."

With a few speeches under his belt, Lynn is eager to share some of the benefits he has gained from public speaking with the men and women of team McConnell. He is working with more Airmen to establish a new Toastmasters club on base, which is scheduled to begin in October.