Demosthenes The 1st Toastmaster
Let me take you back to Greece, 4th century BC. Our story starts with a small sickly boy in the city of Athens. Born to a rich family, which should have meant things would go well for him.
Sadly, by the age of 7 he had lost both his parents and was to instead be raised by guardians.
But they were terrible guardians (think wicked stepmother), squandering the money and not using it for Demosthenes. It was so bad that even his teachers often went unpaid meaning his learning was often neglected.
If that wasn’t bad enough poor Demosthenes wasn’t much to look at either.
You see he was a sickly and frail child. Every day at school his classmates would make fun of his looks and speech impediment. Taunting him with cruel nicknames.
One day he was able to convince one of his teachers to bring him along to the public forum where cases were argued. It was there that young Demosthenes fell in love with oratory. This small stuttering boy began to study arguments and logic.
He practiced and studied for years but when decided to put his oratory to use no one wanted to listed to this feeble lisping man speak. He spoke to one of the only friends he had.
An actor, Demosthenes lamented that he could build the best arguments and yet even the sailors and vagabonds would not listen and yet those same people would flock to the actor’s performance. The actor asked him to recite a well known vs that Demosthenes mumbled out. The actor then recited the verse with Vim and vigor. It finally dawned on Demosthenes the importance of vocal variety and body language.
By this time he had gotten old enough that he had been able to take a case against his guardians and win allowing him to reclaim his inheritance. Sadly, by this point nearly all of it had been squandered so he was left with only the smallest of fraction of the wealth his family had originally had.
He decided to use what little money was left to build an underground study where he would shut himself in for long periods of time. He became like a madman and hermit, studying...