The Art of Speaking  

Talking on the edge

Reen Rose and Wade Paterson have something to prove this weekend.

The two Kelowna AM Toastmasters are division champions who won the right to compete at the district level in Surrey — Rose in the international speech contest and Paterson in the evaluation contest.

Last year, when competing at the district level, Rose was disqualified because she went over time in her seven-minute speech.

“This is the only Toastmasters contest that continues all the way to the international level. The international convention is in Vancouver this year, so getting to that stage would be an even more incredible experience than usual."

This will be Paterson’s first time on the district stage, but he’s carrying the banner of his mentor, Brad Smart, who was second in the district evaluation contest last year.

Rose and Paterson won the right to represent the Okanagan/West Kootenays at the division championships earlier this month in Penticton.

The international was the first of the two competitions and even before she knew she had won, Rose knew she had won.

Not the title or the trophy. It would be hours before she learned the outcome of the contest, but she savoured personal victory as she left the stage at Okanagan College.

“When I finished my speech, I said to my husband, 'That is the best I could do, so I've won regardless of whether I place in the competition or not.'

“That was the first time I felt really satisfied after giving a speech in a contest,” said Rose, a member of the Kelowna AM Toastmasters Club, which meets Thursday at the Royal Anne Hotel at 6:45 a.m.

“Speech competitions are about competing against myself,” Rose said. “If I am stronger than other people in the contest, then I get to go on, but the process is a learning opportunity for me, more than a need to win. Any contest that is in the hands of judges can have any outcome.”

She based her speech on an incident that happened at a coffee shop where she complimented Sue Skinner, a fellow Toastmaster, on her necklace. Skinner immediately removed the necklace and gave it to Rose.

“The incident had a profound effect on me because I was uncomfortable accepting the necklace, but I love it and wear it often.

“When I was trying to decide what to use as the basis of my speech, I was wearing the necklace. I started thinking about how I came to own it, and the rest is history.”

Her club also made a little history later that day when Wade Peterson, also a member of AM Toastmasters, won the evaluation contest.

Toastmasters hold four competitions a year and AM Toastmasters won all at the division level.

But unlike Rose, Paterson didn’t have the luxury of preparing. In the evaluation competition, contestants listen to a seven-minute speech and had five minutes to prepare an evaluation that would inspire and motivate the speaker, but also teach her how the speech could be better.

It was Paterson's first time competing at the division level. He won the area humour contest in the fall, but, because of a scheduling conflict, couldn’t continue.

He made up for it this year with an inspiring yet insightful analysis of a speech by Sabrina Ogrodiuk of the Penticton Speakers Club.

"I was really happy with my evaluation,” Paterson said. “I genuinely felt as though I gave it my best shot."

Paterson said he was nervous before the competition, but a lucky draw helped him relax.

"All the evaluators draw numbers to determine the order they will present in. I prefer to go later, so I was relieved when I drew the final spot."

Although all evaluators are required to hand over their notes after five minutes, going last meant Paterson had extra time to think about what he was going to say, and practice in the hallway.

"When I walked into the room to give my evaluation, I had already gone through it about three times in my head, so I was feeling fairly confident."

O’Christy Wiley of the Penticton Toastmasters Club, which meets at the Shatford Centre Tuesday at 6 p.m., was second in the International speech contest.

“Every time I stand up and speak I am still terrified, I still feel nauseous and my knees are knocking, but now I have the ability to steady my voice, to breathe and to maintain an outward calm that hides the inside panic attack,” said Wiley, who started Toastmasters a year ago and was in her first division competition. 

“Every time I attend a meeting, I am accomplishing my goals, I am stretching my limitations and increasing my skills.”

Mary Anthes of Westside Toastmasters was second in the evaluation contest. Westside Toastmasters meet at 860 Anders Rd. Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Ross Freake is president of Kelowna AM Toastmasters.

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About the Author

The mission of a Toastmaster Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment that offers every member the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

There are eight Toastmasters clubs in the Central Okanagan.

For more information and/or to find a club near you, check http://www.toastmasters.org.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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