2010 Division H International Prepared Speech Contest

Some sixty Toastmasters crowded onto a conference room at Ernst & Young on Wednesday, 12th May for the Division H International Speech Contest 2010. Ryan Ebedes and Mary Byrne of Transformers Toastmasters Club were participating in the International Prepared and Impromptu Speech Contests respectively. Supporting them were Rod and Ruth Taylor, Glenice Ebedes and John-Peter Gernaat who had the privilege of listening to the evening’s speeches with nothing to do but listen. Judges, tally counters, time-keepers and contest chair had been invited from clubs who were not participating. There were five contestants participating in each of the contests: Impromptu, Evaluation and International Prepared Speech Contests, in that order.

After all the formalities had been completed and with a glass of wine in hand, we sat back to be entertained. The word for the Impromptu Speech Contest was “guess”, and guess what, five very different and interesting speeches resulted. The speeches ranged from relationships and forgiveness, guessing the gender of kittens, Guess Jeans and branding, your inner melody and the symphony of humanity, to a syllogism – a logical appeal. Mary came third with her tale of guessing the gender of very young kittens and Murphy’s Luck for getting it wrong and cat-relationships that then result.

The demo speech was riveting. Dorian Toussaint offered a wonderful prize to anyone who was game for a road trip to a resort in Namibia, leaving immediately without preparation. He vividly described the road trip in an Audi R8 with numerous incidents along the way through the dark of night. The purpose of the speech was to relate the road trip to the path of light. Like the head lights of the car we can only see a short distance ahead although we happily set off on a 1400km trip. We spend time planning a road trip, a wedding, etc. but how much time to give to planning our lives.

The evaluations of this speech were all very well structured and the audience had the opportunity to learn how differently evaluations can be structured and what makes a winning evaluation.

Ryan was first up in the International Contest and gave a magnificent speech on the lessons learned from sociable weavers – those little birds that build huge nests in the desert regions. Ryan was followed by four other speakers with amazing stories.

The second speaker spoke about his national service days in 1976 when on his third day of basic training he had stood up to his platoon corporal for unjust behaviour but, with only 30 days in uniform remaining, the student uprising of June 16 resulted in the death of Hector Petersen and others. Although he was not there he still feels the guilt connected with not standing up for a greater injustice. How do we stand up for what we believe?

The third speaker spoke about seconding Geoff Hilton-Barber, blind from birth, during the Kalahari Relay Race and the trust that running blind must require.

The fourth speaker provided a realistic description of the manipulations of a boss from hell.

The final speaker was Dr. Matthews Mtumbuka who spoke at our club only two days earlier. He told us about the power of enduring hope during an illness of his mother that required a ride of faith of 400 km from their home to hospital with car trouble along the way. By not giving up against the odds, although his mother had already slipped into a coma, she recovered after three days in hospital and still holds the family together.

The five speeches were all excellent. Each speaker had selected a topic that was close to their heart, based on person experience, and delivered with feeling. The judging must have been difficult but the judges selected Ryan’s speech as the best and he goes forward to give this speech on Saturday, 15th May at the District 74 Contest during Maxicon. Well done to Ryan for this excellent achievement.

We certainly have great speakers in our club from seasoned speakers like Mary to fairly new speakers like Ryan (fourth year in Toastmasters). Guests are always welcome at our club meeting. The next club meeting takes place on Monday, 24th May at 18h30 for 19h00.

Wishing Ryan well for Saturday.