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Praise for the Speakers at the Division E Speech Contest, Every One a Winner

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The International Speech Contest for Division E of District 4 of Toastmasters International was held on April 8, 2011 at 1455 Market Street, San Francisco. Though one speaker won the contest, all five speeches captured and motivated me to write these summaries.

Scott Goering, How to Give a Speech: Master the three essentials of public speaking outlined by Scott, and you can master the world:

  • Be comfortable with your body, and your gestures will come naturally.
  • Internalize your message, and the audience will know you are authentic.
  • Turn it on, and show that you are a motivator that people want to hear.

Michael Dart, Coffee with Nikki: Michael struggled with and closed down from fears about life and death. Confronting those fears hindered his personal fulfillment. He began change by knowing he had to put aside his expectations limited by fear and to embrace what life delivered. Change in practice began when he agreed to mentor Nikki, an orphaned Vietnamese-African America outcast from Vietnam who became a street person in San Francisco. When he  learned how Nikki celebrated the unbearable, he began to ask crucial questions beyond his fears such as, “Where do people like Nikki go who don’t fit in our society?” Finding the answer to this question gave Michael unexpected rewards.

Maria Leone, What does it take to make it?: Sharing with us personal stories at once horrifying and edifying from her life and death battle with breast cancer, Maria told us what it took for her to win at life:

  • Fall in love with learning.
  • Stay the course.
  • Say Yes! to life.

John McKnight, Values: Recounting the incredible life of Emily Warren Roebling, wife of Washington Roebling, the reputed builder of the Brooklyn Bridge. When Washington was unable to complete his duties as the lead engineer, Emily selflessly and silently took his place to complete what was then a man’s job. She taught herself higher mathematics, the calculations of catenary curves, the strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and the intricacies of cable construction. When Washington’s superiors wanted to remove him from the project, Emily spoke for him and persuaded them to keep him on so that she could finish his work. John McKnight reflected that when he is in doubt about his career, he meditates on the values that led Emily Roebling to success, a lifetime devotion to learning, leading, and communicating.

Anthony Hogan, Home: Modeled on the lyrics of Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, Anthony recounted his life’s path while introducing us to his kinfolk in Georgia, his intellectual awakenings on the East Coast, and his growing taste for the sensuality of living a full life in San Francisco. Redding’s song became a metaphor for the pain and happiness in Anthony’s life.

Each speaker delivered the #1 speech.

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