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Aug 17

My Toastmasters Speech: The Suspense is Over

Last night I competed in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest semi-finals in Orlando, and (drum roll, please) I did not advance to the finals. But that’s okay! Because I think I did really well, and the experience was incredible! The level of competition was strong (which I always welcome, because then I learn more) and I honestly feel that any one of the people in my group could’ve easily won.

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Group 5 at the Toastmasters International Speech Competition (1st place winner Mario Lewis is 4th from right; 2nd place Abdullah Abandi far left, and 3rd place Karen Rosquist 4th from left. All deserving.)

The way it worked was thus: Well over 1,000 people attended the Toastmasters International Conference (maybe closer to 1,500, when there are that many people it’s hard to tell). There were 86 speech semi-finalists from all over the world, divided into nine groups of nine or 10 contestants (I was in Group 5). Each group had an assigned 2-hour block of time in which each contestant performed his or her speech (each speech is five to seven minutes long) in front of a live paying audience of hundreds of people. It’s a very controlled environment with assigned seating for contestants and judges, and no audience member allowed in or out of the auditorium while speeches are in progress.

The judging is based on a strict rubric that considers speech content (which is weighed most heavily), delivery, and language. Each judge evaluates each section on a scale of one up to 20, and then the scores are added up after all the speeches have been given. There is a 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place winner in each group, and the the 1st place winners go on to compete this Saturday morning, August 18, at 8:00 a.m. in the world finals. (That hour is a little early for me, but I would’ve done it, of course, if I had to). Since nine groups competed yesterday, there will be nine finalists facing off tomorrow.

Speech Judging is Not for Weenies

As you can see, judging is very subjective, but since we’re talking about an art form, it has to be. I watched a couple of other groups compete, and I have to say in many cases the people I liked best did not win (or if they did, they came in third). That’s not to say the winners weren’t good. Everyone at this level is an excellent speaker, and all who won something deserved their accolades. I’m just glad I wasn’t a judge. In my mind there were no runaway winners, at least not in the speech competition groups I saw.

Now I Can Breathe

On some level, it is a relief to be out of the running at this point. Now I can enjoy the rest of the conference and go to talks to learn. The speakers going on to the finals each have to give a brand new speech that can’t resemble their semi-final speech in any way, so I’m sure they’re all spending the day today honing their skills for tomorrow morning. When you come to The Toastmasters International Conference as a competing speaker you don’t get to do much else but practice your speech and go to rehearsals and preparation meetings up until you speak. Once you’re out of it you’re back down in the civilian ranks, which means you can finally exhale and do what you want.

This year the speeches were available on VOD pay per view, which I didn’t realize until I got here (otherwise I would’ve let you know) so when I get the clip of my speech I’ll be sure to post it.

And finally, the winner in my group (Group 5) was a delightful gentleman from New Jersey named Mario Lewis. He’s 5’5” tall and he did a funny, yet poignant speech about being short called “Size Matters”. I’m happy to report that he definitely deserved to win, and I’ll be rooting for him in the finals tomorrow.

Then right after that I’ll get on a plane, go back to Park City, and resume my life as a grateful mom to my two amazing sons who constantly give me the greatest stories to write and talk about.

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Did you like this post? If so, please click on the banner below to vote for me as a Top Mommy Blogger on TopMommyBlogger.com. I don’t win anything except a higher search engine ranking, plus bragging rights to my kids that I’m not as dorky as they think. (Okay, well maybe I am that dorky, but at least I’ll be easier to find on the Web.)

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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.

12 comments

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  1. Amy

    What an amazing accomplishment to have reached this point in the competition! Your friends are already intimately familiar with your gift of the spoken (and written) word, but it’s nice that others in new high places now know. I can’t wait to see where it leads…

  2. Stacy Dymalski

    Thanks, Amy! Yes, I hope it leads to a lucrative speaking/writing career…or at least one with which I can pay the rent.

  3. Dee Macaluso

    You’re still the best in our book!

    1. Stacy Dymalski

      Thanks, Dee, for making me feel like a rock star. :-)

      And BTW, back at ya, Sister.

  4. LInda G.

    Zowie! A Parkite in the finals. You do us proud girl.

  5. Stacy Dymalski

    That’s because I stood on sturdy shoulders, like yours Linda, to reach the bar so I could pull myself up to get here. :-)

  6. Emily @ The Waiting

    Congratulations for making it that far! Just by getting up to speak and not feeling scared to death, you have become my hero. ;)

    1. Stacy Dymalski

      Thanks, Emily! (Sorry I didn’t reply sooner. I’m way behind in my comments due to my hand injury). I appreciate the support. I love public speaking, which is weird because most people hate it. So I’m just grateful that I got to participate in such a cool event. And like I said, even though I didn’t win, I met some wonderful people and learned a lot. So in reality it was a win-win situation in the long run.

  7. CJ

    This is a great account of your event, clear and concise..interesting reading. It does take confidence and skill to speak well so congratulations :-)

    1. Stacy Dymalski

      Thanks, CJ. The key to public speaking is to know you really won’t DIE if or when you speak in front of a crowd. Once you get beyond that, it’s easy. Now coming up with interesting things to say? That’s the hard part.

  8. Mario Lewis

    Stacy,
    It was an absolute pleasure to have met you during the Toastmasters conference. Thank you for the kind words and well wishes. I enjoyed your speech and noticed you were having a great time showcasing your talent to that large audience. I look forward to the opportunity to connect at future TI conferences.

    Thank you again and best regards,

    Mario

    1. Stacy Dymalski

      Mario! I’m so glad you found me online! Thank you for posting a comment. It’s great to hear from you. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you, as well, and loved listening to you speak. I think you’re incredibly talented and I have no doubt your writing and speaking will take just about where ever you want to go in life.

      Good luck with everything and I look forward to seeing you next year (if our paths don’t cross before) at the TM Conference in Cincinnati. Take care (and thanks again for stopping by my blog). :-)

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