SEMINOLE — Several years ago, when Cherise and Don Bannister saw a newspaper listing about the weekly Seminole-SPC Toastmasters meeting at the Seminole Community Library, they thought they’d give it a chance.

Cherise had long been intrigued by the organization, and at the time, Don had been promoted at the construction company where he worked. He thought attending the boot camp could help with his public speaking skills, which he needed to improve since his promotion meant he was expected to speak at an annual national conference, where he would introduce the keynote and take on other duties that would land him on stage.

“The techniques I learned at Toastmasters were a tremendous help,” he said. “The people at my company really noticed the work I put in.”

He received “great feedback” from colleagues, who told him how polished he sounded compared to others at the conference.

Since then, Cherise and Don have remained active members of the group and now help to organize the annual Confidence and Communication Boot Camp. This year, the five-week boot camp runs Tuesdays, Jan. 28 through Feb. 25, 6:15 to 7:30 p.m., at the library, 9200 113th St. N. Cost is $25 per person.

“It’s so worth it,” Cherise said. “You get so much out of it … We give you all the tools and tips you need, and it’s a safe environment to practice these skills that are so important.”

Everyone is welcome at Toastmasters, she added. The group includes everyone from herself, “an at-home wife” to business leaders “and everybody in between,” she said.

Individuals are drawn to Toastmasters for a variety of reasons, Don added. Some might be preparing for a toast at a wedding or other social engagement, while others might want to polish their skills for work-related presentations.

“Whatever the reason, it gives them a chance to speak in front of people,” he said.

At this point, it’s become a weekly commitment for the Bannisters. 

“It’s a great group of people. It’s something we can do every week as a couple,” Don said, “and we’re also developing new skills.”

To register for the upcoming Confidence and Communication Boot Camp contact Dennis Hamel at 727-374-2612, email or visit