Sewing for the International

All I have written for my International speech.

All I have written for my International speech.

International Speech Competition. The biggest and highest level of competition on the Toastmasters’ stage. Win this, and you’ll join the elite rank of Toastmasters that have been crowned the Best Speakers in the World. For the upcoming contest (2013) all eligible contestants will be performing in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Continue reading

There and Back Again

About a year ago, I reached one of the lowest points in my life in recent years. I’m not keen to go into detail; I’ll only say things had long been sliding downwards, but I did not want to see it. In the end I was crushed. Although the initial event should not have been that painful, some people whom I thought would care, ending up showing me how little they did. That poured a truckload of salt onto the wound, and forced me to change my perception of quite a number of things. Continue reading

Opening Act

Soon after winning the Humorist Contest, I came home after work to find a message on the answering machine from this year’s District 21 Governor, Margaret Page. For a split second, I was confused. How did Margaret know my home number? Well, because you wrote it on your Toastmasters’ application when you first joined, you dummy. Continue reading

Conan’s Advice: Finding Your Style

After my win, it was a wonderful surprise to have a few clubs approach me and invite me to be their guest speaker. One club in particular asked me if I would do my award-winning speech again. Of course! Then I read the rest of the email (paraphrased): we would love for you to do an educational session teaching us your techniques on how to make the audience laugh.

Me, teaching? Really? This is a student club who is inviting me (someone who no longer understands their lingo) to teach. I will have to find a way teach without making them fall asleep. There’s a reason I never wrote down “teacher” on the things I wanted to be when I grew up. Okay that is a lie, but many years ago I crossed that profession off my list. Continue reading

Vulnerability

One of the biggest comments I have received from my award winning speech: you were vulnerable up there on that stage, and that is likely one big reason why you won.

A big secret I have to reveal: I still have no idea how to define that term.

Vulnerability during a speech. It is a slightly foreign concept to me, mainly because whenever someone mentions that word, I’m at a loss. It feels like they are referencing some skill I have, like I woke up one morning and decided “I am going to write a speech and insert this amount of vulnerability!” It is not a skill I have, it is a term that continues to elude me. Continue reading

Remembering

It is just over a month now. One month ago, almost to the day I stood on a stage in front of an estimated two to three hundred people and made almost everyone roll on the ground with laughter at the District 21 Humorous Speech Contest. I thought I would be more nervous than I felt. As I shook the Contest Chair’s hand and felt him walk off the stage, I positioned myself at (what I thought was) the centre of the stage, and I began. Continue reading