The Art of Speaking  

Webb of words

Moya Webb will be the Okanagan’s champion when the best talkers in Southern B.C. clash in Kelowna this weekend.

Webb won the Toastmasters Division K (the Okanagan and Western Kootenays) International speech and Evaluation contests. That earned her the right to compete at the Division 21 (Southern B.C. and Vancouver Island) spring conference.

“It is quite an honour to have Moya represent us in both the International Speech and Evaluation contests,” said Jennifer Mlazgar, director of Division K.

“She is a true representation of what it means to be a Toastmaster, so to be able to see her compete at this level is an honour and privilege,” said Mlazgar, a Penticton accountant, who has won the District 21 impromptu speaking contest.

Webb is the quintessential Toastmaster — dedicated, hard-working and always learning. In addition to the two division championships, she has won area contests for humour and impromptu speaking.

In 2017, she also received the District 21 Toastmaster of the Year Award for leadership.

“Toastmasters is the best training program I've ever been on in my career, and certainly the most cost effective,” said Webb, who has a BSc and MBA.

And she has poured her heart and soul into that training program since joining the Kelowna Club in 2006.

She has since been area and division director, sponsored the Okanagan College Toastmasters club and the Downtown Express club, and is now helping start another one.

She is a member of two clubs: OC Toastmasters and Kelowna AM.

“This is the first time I have won the International speech contest at even the club level. I guess I never felt before I had anything to offer from an inspirational perspective,” said Webb, who, with her husband, Dave, runs InvLogik Solutions.

She almost pulled out of the club contest this year because she didn't think she had a good enough speech – until one wrote itself while she was sitting on a Big White chairlift.

“A new speech came into my head — just like that. In basic terms, I considered how the lessons learned while learning to ski were great life lessons for designing a fabulous life.”

In spite of her accomplishments, Webb is humble and self-effacing; she was surprised to win the division since she came second in the area contest.

“The fact that I had come second to Dave Maller (Westside Toastmasters) in the area contest and then beat him at the division contest was unexpected. It was a tough contest.”

After the area contest, she re-wrote parts of her speech, gave it at various city clubs, seeking feedback and incorporating what she felt helped make it a winning speech.

“I even changed the title. I practised it, edited it, practised it some more and felt very good about it.”

While many people have butterflies before they give a speech, Webb had them after winning the division contest.

“I do feel a little intimidated, but at the same time a little excited. That's what competing does for you. The more you challenge yourself, the more you grow and the better the results.”

After Webb won the International, a five-to-seven-minute speech, she competed in the Evaluation contest in which listening and the ability to pick out nuances that most people miss are crucial. Contestants then have five minutes to spin a coherent three-minute story that teaches the speaker and the audience.

“I find the Evaluation contest much harder, because I can't prepare. I have to depend on what I hear, what I think and how I feel about the test speech.

“This is what I'm most nervous about for the district level contest — I could just draw a blank and have no idea what to say. When I say it like that, it makes you wonder why I decided to compete.”

But, she argues, when people step out of their comfort zones, their abilities grow and so does their comfort zones.

“If I have pulled anything out of all of this, it is that I enjoy spending my time with energetic, positive people, working together to achieve something worthwhile and giving back in some way.

“I like to make the best of every day, because you never know what lies around the corner.”

Erin Trifunov was second in the International speech contest and Sharleen McBlain second in the Evaluation. Both are members of the Kelowna Club, which is marking its 60th anniversary this weekend at the spring conference.

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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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