Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Toastmasters speech contests: world championship of public speaking

Every year Toastmasters runs a series of International Speech Contests which eventually result in someone winning the World Championship of Public Speaking. Getting there is a long process, as discussed in this video by the 2001 champion, Darren LaCroix. It includes his first comedy club appearance back in 1992.

On Saturday morning I walked a mile down the road to see a Toastmasters International Speech Contest. It was held at the Prairie Dog Playhouse, which is a community theater that produces Musical Melodrama Parodies, like Space Trek. The contest I saw was at the Area level. An Area is a grouping of about five clubs. Two Areas had their contests that morning. I have listed rough estimates for the number of members in each level of the organization, which are as follows:

Club ~25 members

Area A1 (5 Clubs) ~125

Division A (20 Clubs) ~500

District 15 (91 Clubs) ~2300

Region 1 (8 Districts) ~18,400

All Toastmasters (12 regions) ~230,000 members

Our former club president (and current treasurer), Deborah Whitman, won Area A1. An Area contest winner already is in quite a select group, roughly the top 1% of speakers.

There also were area contests for two-minute impromptu speeches, which Toastmasters calls Table Topics.

Last May I attended the District 15 Spring Conference here in Boise. One of the highlights was the District International Speech Contest. It was won by Rich Hopkins, whose speech Glorious Victory is on YouTube. Rich went on to win Region 1 and was a finalist in the World Championship. The district winner is one out of about 2000 members, or roughly the top 0.05%!

On YouTube you also view Amy Samet’s 2007 Region 3 speech, Nothing is Impossible, and Dan Weedlin’s Region 1 speech, Hold on to the Rope.

No comments: