Our Division G’s Online Contests Event, Humans Benefiting From Software

DG Speech Contest 2020

Thanks to 2020’s communication technology, we can shelter in place while connecting virtually. We successfully did so with Zoom’s software on Saturday, March 28, for the annual Division G Evaluation and International Speech Contests for 18 clubs in the North Bay. Noon’s attendees, at least those identifiable from their on-screen names, were Frank, Mark & MeL, and yours humbly.

Division G Director Terri Boudreaux was the Contest Chair, and our District 57 Director Kevin Markl was the Technical Host, suavely manipulating the audio and video feeds for us 48 online attendees.

The Contest’s Toastmaster was red-coated Jay Kahn of Top of the Bay, with Linda Redwood-Kahn and one of their cats visible and unobtrusive in the background.

After Terri welcomed us and introduced Jay, he proudly displayed what he proclaimed would be first prize — a clear-plastic-wrapped bundle of 24 white toilet paper rolls. Second prize would be two unwrapped rolls, leaving us to imagine the incentives for competing on today’s grab-and-go planet.

Evaluation Contest

Patricia Klemm, Ukiah Toastmasters, was the Test Speaker, generously sharing survival suggestions for us all. During her contestant’s interview with Jay, while the Ballot Counters were in their out-of-view breakout room, she noted that she had been volunteering at homeless shelters before joining Toastmasters two years ago. She is also one of Ukiah’s meetable members and an Independent Damsel Pro.

1st = Nora Guy, Santa Rosa 182, and 9-1/2 years a Toastmaster. Her on-screen virtual background was the Golden Gate Bridge, reminding me that it awaits our real and far-spanning travels. She had finished second to Noon’s own Michelle at the Area contest, but represented it because Michelle was unable to attend this Division contest.

2nd = Jim Goetz, Tenacious Talkers in Lakeport, and 11+ years a Toastmaster. Speaking to a camera for him is “no big deal. I’ve done it before.”

3rd = Linda DeWitt, Kaiser Communicators, 6 years, who found this experience fun.

International Speech Contest

1st = Daisy Pathoumnourack, Toast Tronic, 2 years, with “I Am Hurting” about successful strategies for dealing with the death of a loved one. If you read this blog’s posting of three weeks ago you will see that she did not finish first at the Area Contests event. During her interview, she admitted, “This was not a challenge. It was more making it fun. We’re all in this together.”

2nd = Dallas Gouldberg, Tenacious Talkers, 8 years, with “I Am Mother”. “As Mother Earth, I have gathered us here today… It is time to remember who you are.” During her interview, she revealed, “To prep for this, it was just repeating my speech and imagining an audience.”

As Toastmaster Jay told us, “Who needs two cans and a string!?” Not to string anyone along: For the winners, Terri actually held in front of her camera the Toastmasters medals for 1st and 2nd place.

The Best Thing About Zoom

The best feature of Zoom is its sidebar Chat option, where the attendees can message Everyone or a particular attendee privately. The chatter included many attendees. Among them…

  • After some unexpected background noise before the contests began, from Ray from Humor Speaks: “If the zombie screams …I’ll mute.”
  • From Nora: “If my kid comes running through the room making noise just ignore.”
  • From Daisy, after previously holding up her very young daughter to the camera: “Awe I love the sound of kids, Nora. :)”
  • After the one technical glitch stopped a contestant’s video and audio feed for a few seconds, from Ray from Humor Speaks: “One of the best pauses ever.”
  • And from Woodley: “He needs more coffee.”
  • Later, from Lacie: “Thanks for the snacks whoever brought them!”
  • From David and Donica: “Is that champagne? ooh, too generous.”
  • After Jay showed to us a plastic eyeball which he identified as “a cheesy prop”, from a spectator: “Gouda show.”
  • From Mark & MeL: “I’m getting a little thirsty. I think I’ll Havarti.”

Before it’s time to really cheese it: D57 invites everyone to attend the future online events. May 15 and 22, in particular, will feature our District 57’s Evaluation and International Speech Contests. For sure, we are all winners.

Michelle Dazzles at Toastmasters Speech Contest

Michelle Hardeman-Guptill at Toastmasters District 57 Area G25 and G31 Speech Contest
Michelle Hardeman-Guptill at Toastmasters District 57 Area G25 and G31 Speech Contest

On Saturday, 7 March 2020, Areas G31 and G25 (Ours!) of District 57 of Toastmasters held its International Speech and Evaluation Contests. Our very own Noon Toastmaster Michelle Hardeman-Guptill competed in the evaluation contest and did very well. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

These Area and District events are really great to go to because you get to see more of the diversity of Toastmasters. You also get to see how great people are at the whole “giving a speech” thing. I figure you can react in one of two ways. The defeatist way is to see this is to despair of ever being so good. This path leads to a lonely life where even your cat will only come around for meals.

It’s more normal, however, to be inspired by it. This is helped by the fact that the people involved are having such a good time. It may be a competition but it’s all for fun and experience.

Evaluation Contest

This was the first speech contest that I had attended so it was all new to me. The first event was the evaluation contest. For this, Shawn Langwell gave a speech about his struggles as a young man and moving past them. The contestants were then sequestered.

They came in one by one and gave a 2 to 3 minute evaluation — just as in our normal meetings. In this way, none of them had seen or heard the evaluators who had come before. In this way, all competitors were on an equal footing.

This is the competition that Michelle took part in. She won in the Area G25 competition but I think she would have won G31 too. I have two reasons for thinking that. One: I’m biased. Two: her evaluation was unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Instead of covering a number of different elements, she focused on the pacing of Shawn’s speech and how it affected its totality. It’s hard for me to explain exactly. But I think Michelle might be reinventing the evaluation process.

The other evaluators were excellent too. Competing along with Michelle were:

  • Nora Guy
  • Randy St Jean
  • Linda De Witt.

Speech Contests

After the evaluations came the prepared speeches. These were as good as the evaluations had been. I really wished that more of our members could have attended. I’ll be encouraging more outings in the future.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Daisy Pathoumnourack spoke about the death of her brother and the lessons she learned about dealing with loss.
  • Nicole Dobson told a story about perseverance that involved a skydiver losing his artificial leg in mid-air. I discussed it with her afterward and she confirmed that the story was true.
  • Doug Shannon told a very funny story about learning to belong after his parents cursed him with several brothers he never asked for.
  • David Shaw told the story of a trip to Florida when he was a kid — in rhyming couplets.

I can’t stress enough how much fun these events are. Remember that you are always welcome to attend and I’m sure you’ll find them inspiring.

Also: congratulations Michelle!

Look Who’s Podcasting Now!

Gabriel Cox

About a year and a half ago, someone mentioned creating a podcast for Noon Toastmasters. I hated the idea — mostly because I knew everyone expected me to do all the technical stuff. (I tell people: my professional life revolves around technology, but I hate it!) It came to nothing when everyone realized that I didn’t actually want to do a podcast and we all sang the traditional “Kumbaya, Thank God We’re All Equally Lazy!”

But that doesn’t mean Noon Toastmasters is barren of podcast-positive people, as I discovered just today.

Our very own VP Membership, Gabriel Cox, has started a podcast as part of his business. And his podcast is called Gabriel Cox Leadership Coaching.

He’s on episode 15 with each ranging from 2 to 15 minutes in length with the vast majority being right around 8 minutes long.

Episode 15 is called What are you chasing? It’s about dreams and the things we do that help and hurt us in achieving them.

It’s very well done. I really have no criticisms other than that he’s bought into the Fake News narrative about Wile E Coyote.

Give it a listen. And congratulations for starting your own podcast, Gabriel!

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