On January 20th, 2024, Toastmasters Area T92 held both the International Speech and Table Topics contests. Members who advanced from the six clubs that are part of Area T92, Brant Toastmasters, Cambridge Toastmasters, Grand River Toastmasters, High Noon Toastmasters, Linamar Toastmasters and Topdrawer Advanced Toastmasters, competed against one another for the opportunity to represent the area in the upcoming Division T contest.
Unlike the Cambridge Toastmasters club level contests this year, this contest was held online using Zoom. As a contestant, it’s a very different experience presenting online versus in person. Your speaking area becomes what’s visible to your camera and you don’t see or hear the reactions of the audience.
The first of the two contests challenged the competitor’s impromptu communication skills in the form of Table Topics. Just like our in-person contest, the Table Topics contestants were sequestered away from the contest in a breakout room. This ensures that the contestants do not know the topic they are speaking about until the moment they are introduced.
The prompt chosen by the contest chair for the competitors this time was “Energized”. After being introduced, the contestant had moments to process the prompt and compile their thoughts into a one-to-two-minute speech. One of the interesting dynamics of being isolated from the rest of the contest while you wait for your turn to speak, is that you may hear all or none of your fellow competitors depending on where you fall in the speaking order. In my case, I was the final speaker.
From what I have heard from members of the audience after the contest, all the Table Topics speakers presented an energized and effective speech; it was highly competitive. It was an honour to represent the club and get to compete with members from the five other clubs that make up our area.
After a short break, the event proceeded with the most famous of all Toastmasters contests: The International Speech contest. Unlike Table Topics, the competitors in this contest have been preparing, practicing and refining their way to some incredible five to seven minutes in length speeches. An international speech can be about any subject of the contestant’s choosing and is typically inspirational in nature.
This year’s area contestants did not disappoint and presented thought provoking and inspiring speeches. Subject matter included:
The speakers were all a testament to the quality of the clubs that make up our area. The speeches were thought provoking and inspirational. The topic from the Table Topics contest proved to be an appropriate choice for the day as I left feeling energized by the International Speech contestants.
The entire event ran smoothly and professionally. A reflection of the professionalism of the many volunteers who made the event possible:
The strength of Toastmasters is built on a strong foundation of volunteers who make everything from our education programs to meetings successful. Without them, events such as these contests would not be possible.
After the contests, Chair Kevin Swayze took some time to interview the contestants. This gave the audience an opportunity to get to know them a little better and gave the Chief Judge Cynthia Ayers and her team of Counters time to tally the results.
The top two contestants from each contest will be moving on to the Division T contest, which will be held in March.
First Place: Murray Smith, who represented Grand River Toastmasters
Second Place: Tara Tran, who represented Brant Toastmasters
First Place: CJ Janzen, who represented Topdrawer Advanced Toastmasters (and is also a member of Cambridge Toastmasters)
Second Place: Piyush Nanda, who represented Cambridge Toastmasters
Congratulations to the winners of the two contests and a very big thank you to everyone who made the event possible, from the volunteers to all of the contestants.
I look forward to cheering on our Area T92 representatives at the upcoming Division T contest in March. More details to follow on ourwhen the date and time have been confirmed.
If you haven’t had a chance to attend a Toastmasters contest before,and we will let you know how you can attend the Division T contest. You can be sure you will see some incredible speeches!