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In Character with Kyle Dukelow

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Just how much will a wife get to say when her husband is standing right next to her at a Toastmasters meeting? Attorney Kyle Dukelow says the way to find out is to attend a Toastmasters meeting, where new recruits are always welcome.Kyle Dukelow knows that at least once a week he’ll have to speak up at his weekly Fortunate 500 Toastmasters meeting. An attorney by day, but a shy public speaker by nature, Northeast Portland resident Dukelow says Toastmasters helped him find his voice. Anyone else who is looking for their voice and has a sense of fun is welcome to attend, he adds.

Portland Tribune: How can an attorney be in Toastmasters? Aren’t you guys used to public speaking?

Kyle Dukelow: Attorneys are at different levels. For example, I’m a trial attorney. For me, the ability to think on my feet is crucial. I dropped out of Toastmasters for awhile and what I found was in court I was hemming and hawing.

Tribune: And you’re back now. How long?

Dukelow: Fifteen years. Every club has a different culture, and at ours we really enjoy having a good time.

Tribune: So you’ve got people who like to have a good time but are anxious about speaking in public. What’s the most anxious you’ve seen one of your group?

Dukelow: We had a husband and wife team ...

Tribune: No no, not that. Of course, a husband will be afraid to speak in public if his wife is around.

Dukelow: Quite the opposite. The wife was petrified of public speaking. The husband pretty much forced her to join. Every time she would come she did not want to participate. We decided since the husband forced her to come we would force him to stand up there with her while she spoke.

She came up, he was there by her side, and she attempted to speak, and he kept interrupting, until she finally said, “It’s my story, let me tell it.”

Tribune: Are they still

married?

Dukelow: As far as I know. We have a speaker who is a taekwondo instructor, and he wanted a volunteer to show some taekwondo moves. He chose me because nobody volunteered and proceeded to yank my arm back behind me, and I said, “Do you realize I’m an attorney?”

Tribune: I bet he let go real quick.

Dukelow: In a New York minute.

Tribune: He should have known you can’t successfully twist an attorney’s arm. Does anybody at Toastmasters ever take offense?

Dukelow: We had an older member describe going to a nudist colony and the punchline was, “Some nudists shouldn’t be seen.” We had a man who had his fiancee with him, and he was trying to show off Toastmasters, and he was embarrassed by the speech. He thought his fiancee wouldn’t appreciate the humor.

Tribune: Was she fully dressed?

Dukelow: She was.

Tribune: I don’t see the problem. You ever get embarrassed while speaking in

public?

Dukelow: I had a group of 100 lawyers I had arranged (to hear) a panel presentation of three judges. I was introducing the judges, and all of a sudden I realized I’ve got my hand on my back and I am scratching my back with 100 lawyers looking at me and the three judges to the side of me.

Tribune: So the judges had the straight-on look at your armpit. Good anti-antiperspirant?

Dukelow: Luckily, I had my suit jacket on and was heavily deodorized.

Tribune: Do you remember your first Toastmasters meeting?

Dukelow: I was in college. This was 1987. I went as part of a research study.

Tribune: Sure you did. Everybody says “I’m just here to do research.” It’s 26 years since your first Toastmasters meeting. You can admit you went because you needed help communicating.

Dukelow: Do you have a degree in psychology? Because right now I’m getting some good psychotherapy here. But when I went in, I sat as far away from the lectern as possible.

Tribune: And where did you sit at your Toastmasters meeting this week?

Dukelow: I was a little closer.

Tribune: That’s all? Twenty-six years and just a little closer?

Dukelow: Baby steps.