Did you know that there's a scientific name for the fear of public speaking? It's called glossophobia, and it affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives. That's why, five years ago, a small group of motivated UMGC alumni, with help from Toastmasters International, decided to create a public speaking club for those who wished to face their public speaking fears.

Open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni, UMGC's Power Speakers club was first chartered in 2014 and is committed to one simple goal: empowering individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. The club has an impressive roster of professionals among its ranks, including an obstetric gynecologist, a massage therapist, several business owners, and a UMGC adjunct professor. No matter the profession, however, each member has a shared desire to improve themselves.

"As an author and an activist, I seek to inform others about their civil rights when confronting federal workplace discrimination," says Tanya Ward-Jordan, the current Vice President of Membership. "The Power Speakers club has equipped me with tools to better frame my thoughts and to strengthen my confidence when delivering my message."

Last July, Ward-Jordan utilized the skills she learned in the Power Speakers club to participate as a speaker in a panel at the 2019 Annual Whistleblowers Summit in Washington, D.C.

Keeping a student and alumni-led club running for five years requires ongoing recruitment, member engagement, and creativity. To keep each meeting fresh, the Power Speakers officers began to add themes to their speech assignments. This January's theme was "Wear Your Favorite Sports Jersey," while February's was "All About Love." Members also have flexibility in choosing the topics and tone of their speeches, which helps to keep things light. Topics range from amusing ones like "The Menopause Rap" to educational ones like "How to Obtain an 800 Credit Score."

"What started as me just being supportive of my wife and her endeavors has turned into me facing one of my greatest fears," said Greg Clark, one of the club's newest members. "While I'm still relatively new to the club, I'm certain that I couldn't have chosen a better group of individuals to support me in becoming the powerful, dynamic speaker I envision myself becoming."

Usually, the club meets at the Largo campus auditorium at 6:15 on the first Tuesday of each month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the group has moved their events online until social distancing restrictions are lifted.

All are welcome to participate in the UMGC Power Speakers club! To learn more, please visit the UMGC Power Speakers page.