By Kristina Houck
Having been a district attorney since she was 24 years old, Laura Akers believed her way of speaking was “too intense.” That’s how she became one of the founding members of Rancho Santa Fe Toastmasters, a local chapter of Toastmasters International, a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills.
“I sounded like I was always trying to convict someone of murder,” said Akers, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, with a laugh. “I wanted to lighten that up and expand my ability to speak.”
Since then, the local chapter has grown to 20 active members, and Akers recently won two first place awards for her humorous and inspirational speeches in the International Speech Contest for area two, district five. One of her speeches also took second place at the division level.
“I was always really, really shy and that’s something people don’t understand about me — I’m a major introvert and very, very shy,” said Akers, who helped launch the group in March 2009. “Not anymore.”
With the confidence and skills she gained from Toastmasters, in 2013, Akers enrolled in the Stand Up Comedy Clinic, a Burbank-based comedy class led by comedian and teacher Jerry Corley.
“It’s really one of the most profound experiences,” said Akers, who is also a member of the Professional Women’s Toastmasters Club, which meets monthly in San Marcos. “To be funny in comedy, you can’t be anybody but yourself. You have to reveal a lot of your own personality.”
Because of her leadership in Toastmasters, Akers has been asked to speak at numerous events. She also holds business-coaching workshops, and teaches a class on jury selection and trial skills for lawyers.
Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Toastmasters International has more than 292,000 memberships in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries.
The Rancho Santa Fe chapter is always looking for new members. Meetings take place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Rancho Santa Fe Community Center, located at 5970 La Sendita.
“It’s a huge fear many people have, but our meetings are nothing to be scared of,” Akers said. “Everyone supports you and wants you to do well.”
For more information, call 619-840-4822 or visit
For more information about Akers, visit