November 21st, 2017

Talking their way to victory


By Jeremy Appel on November 13, 2017.

Alastair Linds (fourth from left) was declared the winner at Saturday's District 42 Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest. Pictured: Toastmaster Karla Kroeker, distinguished toastmaster Dunstant Taylor, program quality director Catherine Secundiak, Linds, distinguished toastmaster Johan Bauer and contest chairperson Bev LeBlanc. --NEWS PHOTO JEREMY APPEL


jappel@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNJeremyAppel

Alastair Linds of Calgary reigned victorious at the Toastmasters District 42 Humorous Speech Contest on Saturday at the Clarion Hotel.

“I still am dumbstruck,” said Linds in the immediate aftermath of his win. “I’m at a loss for words right now. I never really thought I’d get this far.

“I’ve only been a toastmaster for two-and-a-half years and with the support from everybody, I didn’t want to set myself up to get my hopes too high.”

He said that he was honoured to participate in the event with other great speechwriters.

“The amount of talent in the room is palpable,” Linds said.

Linds’ speech, “Professor Alastair’s Wild Kingdom,” was inspired by a Sesame Street clip he saw on YouTube.

“It was kind of that literary theatre, except it was Cookie Monster (as) ‘Alastair Cookie.’ He was going over the story of ‘Twin Beaks.’

He said he was attracted to the idea of a stereotypical professor telling the audience something they already knew about, in this case introverts.

“We all know introverts,” Linds said. “We all have introverted moments at least.”

Linds described his win as “icing on the cake,” saying that he came down to the Hat to simply have fun and listen to the other speeches.

The competition’s runner up was Justice Daka of Regina, Sask., who originally hails from Zambia.

His speech, “My First Time,” was about his first trip to the dentist after moving to Canada.

“Believe it or not, after 25 years I never went to a dentist,” Daka said. “As you can tell, it went not so well.”

Daka said toastmasters has helped his communication abilities immensely.

“I started toastmasters because I … found that whenever I would go to a job, I didn’t have the courage to say things, because I felt I couldn’t express myself,” he said, adding that he became a new man after spending some time with the club.

“I found myself being able to explain myself much more clearly and also just to feel comfortable talking to people and presenting my ideas.”

Monique Levesque-Pharoah, Toastmasters international director, has been with the club since 1994.

“It’s the growth, not just of myself, but seeing the growth of the toastmasters around me that keeps me coming back,” she said.

“It’s not just communication. Our hashtag is ‘where leaders are made’ and that really is something that we all strive for.”

Levesque-Pharoah said that in her day the club has helped students, professionals, researchers and more achieve self-improvement through enhancing their communication and leadership skills.


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