by Sunny Layne
CEDAR VALLEY (KWWL) -- Statistics show some people fear public speaking more than death. But one eastern Iowa retiree discovered he loves public speaking because of its power for good, and it's taking him all the way to the Toastmasters world championship.
Meet Jack Ackerman, someone you should know.
For years, Jack Ackerman practiced speaking in court rooms with no applause, but how things have changed.
"I tell people I'm a recovering attorney," he said.
As a retired Cedar Valley lawyer, Ackerman found a new calling, using his words not in laying down the law, but in lifting people up.
"My whole purpose was to help people have better lives," he said. "Communication is so important in every relationship."
This father of six joined a Waterloo Toastmasters public speaking club in 2001, winning a number of contests, and now he mentors budding public speakers.
"Jack is amazing," mentoree Amber Jedlicka said. "He's fun. A person who builds you up."
"Jack has shown me how to be confident, pause when you are supposed to pause," mentoree Teddy Bruns said.
He certainly practices what he teaches. He just recently won a regional contest in Canada, propelling him to the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking August 15th in Connecticut. The only speaker from eastern Iowa with such an honor.
"Pitted against nine of the best speakers in the world," Ackerman said. "And hope to come out on top."
Each year, 230,000 members in more than 11,000 clubs in 92 countries around the world have the opportunity to compete. Now as a finalist, Ackerman must write a new speech. What is the subject? Well, he's not sure yet.
"I've written eight speeches and none are satisfactory," he said. "I'll tell you when we get back."
But knowing his track record, surely his speech will call for a special toast and another round of applause.
Ackerman says he's still working on his speech. It can't be less than five minutes or more than seven and a half, or speakers will get disqualified. We'll keep you posted on how he does.
Reporter: Sunny Layne