My Journey to Become a Confident Communicator and Powerful Presenter

George TorokInsights Leave a Comment


How to become a confident communicator and powerful presenter

Perhaps my journey will remind you of your journey and inspire you to continue moving on your path. You can become a more confident communicator and powerful presenter when you enhance your confidence and develop your communication skills. It takes many steps to get there. You don’t need to follow my journey, yet you might appreciate my journey that enables me to help you fast-forward your development.


Early Days and Humble Beginnings

Shy and Introverted Student

I was a shy and introverted student who learned to become more confident and more effective as a communicator and speaker. I’m still an introvert. That means that I can participate in public engagement and then I need alone time to recharge. You can be an introvert and still be a confident speaker.

I learned how to become bolder and less shy. Shyness is a learned trait which can be unlearned. It wasn’t one event or moment that made me a confident speaker. It was a series of milestones that shaped my life and my speaking skills.

These are the highlights in my life that helped to build my confidence, skills and success as an effective communicator. Your life is different from mine. You might learn from my challenges and experiences That might help you boost your confidence and become a more powerful communicator.

Shy and introverted student

a nerdy young man wearing glasses and a bow tie

Elementary School

During my elementary school years, I attended five different schools in three different cities, which meant that I was often trying to fit in and make friends with a new group. It was a frustrating and painful experience. I failed grade one. The following year I caught up. During grade 4 and 5 I became a rebel and troublemaker. When I switched to a new school for grade six, I regressed and hid. This was a painful time for me, yearning for friends and group acceptance.

High School Band

High school provided some stability because for the first time I attended the same school for four years. I made real friends for the first time and that boosted my confidence. Amazing what one or a few good true friends can do to boost your confidence. The best experience from high school was joining the high school concert band. I played trumpet and trombone. I got to preform as part of the band in front of audiences in the school, across the city and around the country.

I felt that I belonged and was appreciated. It was a wonderful feeling to hear the applause after we preformed. I know they weren’t applauding me, yet I was a member of the performance that they enjoyed.

Knock on Doors

Encourage your children to knock on doors to sell or raise funds because it is tough and a powerful confidence builder. Knocking on doors to ask for free candy at Halloween is easy. Try knocking on doors to sell and ask for money. That is character building.

I knocked on doors selling apples for Cubs and Scouts. That was encouraging. During high school, I knocked on doors to sell products to raise funds for the high school band. We sold pens, peanuts and sponsorships.

During high school I also participated in Junior Achievement, and we sold product door to door – both residential and business. That meant that I entered an office building and walked into an office to sell my message and product. I sold candles and leather key cases. Knocking on doors is character building because you need to smile when you don’t feel like it.

Decades later I knocked on doors to campaign as a prospective school trustee and later support a mayoral candidate. Knocking on doors builds confidence, character and resilience because you face uncertainty and rejection.

Disk Jockey

The summer before I started university, I started a parttime job as a disc jockey. It was a Saturday night gig playing records at dances for weddings, clubs and parties.

My only qualifications were that I had a car and I loved music. Why did I pursue this job? I was intrigued and wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. This was certainly uncomfortable. At the first training session, I froze when it was my turn to speak at the microphone.

I performed that job for five years. It was a confidence builder because I had to stand before the audience and talk to them while playing the right music to keep them entertained and keep them dancing. I discovered that I enjoyed the stage, the attention, and the feeling of controlling the room.

Fast forward 20 years

Two-Day Presentation Skills Workshop

After 10 years of corporate work, I attended a two-day workshop on presentation skills. My boss approved for me to attend, and he said, “George, you don’t need this because you are good enough.”

I thought. “Yeah, I’m already good enough.” I felt cocky about myself. After attending that workshop there were two big ah-ha moments for me. I recognized that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. I wasn’t good enough.

The second revelation: It was about principles and techniques that developed skills to become a better presenter. It wasn’t natural talent. It was a skill set that could be learned and developed. I volunteered to deliver more presentation to get better.

That two-day workshop opened my eyes to the reality of my current state and the opportunity to improve.

I wanted to get better and speak more.

My Life Pivot

After I attended that presentation skills workshop, I resolved to become a better presenter, so I volunteered to deliver more presentations both at work and in the community.

I volunteered to chair the conference for an association that I was a member of. After that event I made the decision to become a professional speaker. This was the turning point for me.


I joined Toastmasters. It’s an international non-profit organization that helps develop public speaking and leadership skills. I actively participated in Toastmasters for seven years. I attended the weekly club meetings. I contributed as a club officer. I competed in the contests. I spoke at two international conventions.

If you want to get the most of any association, actively participate and contribute. You’ll get much more back than you give.

Radio Show Host

I hosted the radio show, Business In Motion for 19 years at 93.3 CFMU radio station in Hamilton. It was a weekly 30-minute interview show. I interviewed more than 600 guests. That included, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and business authors.

I started this radio show with no radio experience. It was community radio at the university which meant they accepted almost everyone with a good idea. My first interviews were terrible. I got better. I learned from my mistakes.

Be willing to try new activities and start poorly.


Professional Speaking Associations

Canadian Association of Professional Speakers

National Speaker Association





I was a charter member of the Canadian Association of professional Speakers, CAPS. I met other professional speakers who were at various stages in their business development. I learned from them. We traded ideas, tips and shared inspiration.

I served as program chair of the Toronto chapter of CAPS. That meant that I organized every monthly meeting and chaired those meetings. I spoke before the chapter members every month and that boosted my confidence. Imagine the challenge and pressure of speaking before other professional speakers. I also attended conferences at the National Speakers Association (NSA) in the USA to meet and learn from the best professional speakers in the world. Through those memberships I was also a member of the Global Speaker Federation that connected me with professionals around the world.

Get involved in your trade association and volunteer for active roles that challenge you, develop your skills and elevate your profile.

My Mentor: Peter Urs Bender

Peter’s first book was Secrets of Power Presentations. It was a practical guide to presenting and it was a bestseller.

I met Peter when we were speaking at a Toastmasters Conference. We connected. He became a mentor and friend to me. He invited me to attend his programs and licensed me to deliver his programs on Power Presentations.

A mentor can be encouraging, instructive and life changing. When you find a mentor who is willing to help, respect their time and advice. And demonstrate your learning. When you find a mentor, recognize how lucky you are and take advantage of the opportunity to learn.

Presentation Coaching

When I was asked to coach an executive on his presentation, I asked my mentor, Peter Urs Bender for advice on how to coach and proceed with my first coaching client. I discovered that I had a talent and comfort coaching executives with their presentations.

Naturally, I attended coaching sessions with other presentation coaches. I soaked up their lessons. Those speech coaches included Patricia Fripp, Ron Arden, Warren Evans, Kit Grant and more.

I have since coached hundreds of business leaders to transform their presentation and communication skills. If you want to be a good speech coach, you must learn from other great speech coaches.

Second City Improv

Second City Improv trainingI attended the six-week training program. It was fabulous. It was stressful at times. It was enlightening.

What is improv and what is it not. If you’ve watched “Whose Line is it” or Saturday Night Live, you might believe that improv is about being funny. That’s not true. That is simply one outcome of improv. The most important lesson that improv taught me was how to be comfortable when you don’t know what will happen next.

That’s improv. Be in the moment. Be comfortable in the moment and be willing to go with the moment.

I became a much more confident speaker because of improv training.

Voice Training

I attended a two-day workshop on voice-over. It was about how we can better enhance and control our voice for maximum effect. We learned how to breathe, center our voice and alter our voice. Become more aware of and in control of your voice to boost your confidence as a public speaker.

I was able to apply this in my radio show and help my clients with their voice.

Read Books

As you can imagine, I’ve read hundreds of books on the topics of presentation, communication, conversation, thinking, persuasion, sales, marketing, psychology, behavior, comedy, writing, leadership, inspiration and more.

I’ve learned from those books. I continue to read books old and new to boost my thinking and communication skills.

If you want to get better at anything, read books about the topic.

Publishing Articles, Tips & Blog Posts

One way to build your expertise is to write about what you know and want to study because that focuses your thinking. I’ve written and published over 500 articles and 2,000 blog posts on communication and thinking skills over the past 20 years.

Be sure to subscribe to the weekly Superior Presentation tips at

Your Intended Message Podcast

My most recent project is my podcast, Your Intended Message. Already over 200 episodes.  I’ve interviewed more than 150 experts on the topic of communication. We explore various aspects of communication. That might be conversation, presentation or marketing. We explore communication to one person, to a group, to a mob and even to self. Imagine that.

You can enjoy these conversations that offer insights and tips to improve your communication results.


Conclusion of My Confidence and Communication Skills Journey

The main point from this post is that if you want you become a better communicator, you can, and it is an ongoing journey to getting better. It’s not about asking the Wizard of OZ for the answer. It’s about your journey along the Yellow Brick Road and keep going because you will never reach the Emerald Palace. You simply keep learning and getting better.

If you are ready to boost your travel through the next steps of your journey, contact me to arrange the relevant coaching for you.

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