And the winner of the Division Contest is…

…me?! Me! Me.

This past fall I competed at the District 21 Table Topics Contest. In a few short weeks, I will be competing at the District 96 International Speech Contest. The minute after I won the Division Contest, I texted my mentor Joe and tell him he was right: he had long ago predicted I would end up at District. I still find it hard to sink in because I have always viewed speeches for the International needing to be the triple threat: inspirational, motivational, humorous. I feel like my speech does not mean any single one.

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Almost a Champ Again

Some memories feel like a dream: just over 1.5 months have passed since the District 21 Fall Conference in Parksville. A part of my mind still asks “did that really happen?” In truth, it almost didn’t happen.

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Freckles grow at dawn: What the game of Telephone taught me about communication

One June afternoon in the sixth grade, the teacher decided to play Telephone. For those not in the know, Telephone is a game where one person (the teacher in this case) thinks of an initial sentence, and the sentence is passed from person to person until the last person says it out loud. Often times the resulting sentence will be quite different from the initial one. Almost twenty years later, here are three things Telephone taught me about communication.

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From Toastmasters to Real World

I would have never done my speech like that in the real world. Toastmasters’ is safe.”

That was the first thing I heard when I joined the conversation. A fellow Toastmaster had given a speech, received feedback and I thought nothing more of it until I heard that line later in the meeting.

The idea that speeches in Toastmasters are different from the real world is an understandable concept. Toastmasters is undoubtedly safe, and it’s that security that gives me the courage to push my own personal speech boundaries. Using props and costumes? I’ve tried that. Running around on stage? Yup. Breaking out into (horrible) song? Two weeks ago I was finally brave enough, and jumped in with my eyes closed.

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Reaching Deep, Being Brave

I have always felt something freeing about having a blank pad of paper and a smooth writing pen. I am free to write whatever I want, however I want, wherever I want. No matter how much I improve on my public speaking, I will always find comfort expressing myself through the written word.

Empty page

Awhile ago, a Toastmaster approached me and asked me to write a story about personal change. Ideally the topic should have been easy: I am in Toastmasters after all, I could have written about all my changes in the past five years and called it a day. But a challenge was put forth: could I write about a change that everyone could relate to, not just the Toastmasters’ audience. I think so…but how on earth would I start? Where would I start? Continue reading

Trusting in the Relatable

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

In my previous life as a Science major, that quote stuck with me. Our forefathers (and mothers) made major discoveries and obtained knowledge that we take for granted today. Often we use that gained knowledge to form our own experiments, make our own discoveries, write our own papers, etc.

Except I always had the thought of “everything that can be written about, has already been written about, how on earth can I come up with something original?”

I had the same approach when I first tried writing speeches for Toastmasters. In amongst trying to get a handle on my nerves, I was trying to find a topic I could “teach” to the audience. I was (and still am) considered young in comparison to the average age of a Toastmaster, everything I have experienced in my short life, my audience has already experienced, many times over. Continue reading

Two Words for Humour

A few months ago at a club meeting, one Toastmaster asked another member the following question:

“In two words, how would you describe how you incorporate humour?”

The question spawned my own internal challenge. If I could describe my own take on incorporating humour in two words, which two would I choose?

After months of deliberation, I finally came up with my answer.

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Lessons from New Members

This week I found myself at my home club fulfilling the role of Table Topics Master. It was a role I had done many times before: think of questions (preferably related to the theme), and remember to confirm with timers and evaluators. However on this day one of our newest members, Ming, approached me at the break. Continue reading

Poise of a Champion

Monday night I found myself attending the local Division L International Speech and Evaluation Contest after receiving an invitation from a friend. This was the first non-home Division contest I attended, and I was quite happy to see a number of familiar faces.

One of those familiar faces was a Toastmaster by the name of Chris Archer. We had never been formally introduced (I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t know my name) but I had seen his speech on Saturday when he presented his speech at the famous Just Pros Dragon’s Den. Both versions of the same speech were almost the same, word for word: a great speech then and a great one now.

Yet, something was different. Continue reading