Our club Terrace@12 is privileged to have had two of its members to support at this year’s Division-E conference.

The contest was held at Brooklyn Freemason centre, which has a sizeable tidy hall with ample parking for the 85 Toastmasters and friends that attended.

For the morning Evaluation contest – congratulations go to Peter Scholtens for third place.(although he was representing another club). 1st went to our Area E4 winner Raymond Kemp.
For the afternoon International Speech contest – Grace Xu made an awesome attempt, with her best delivery yet, against seasoned speakers.

Evaluation contest was first, and to have an evaluation contest, first must come, a test speech “Monkey Tail:

Tony first humorously told us that “It is easy to catch monkies”. Now we were all intrigued he told us how it can be done with just a jar fixed to the ground and a banana, which works because once the monkey has its hand on a banana inside a jar with a narrow neck, it will not let go of the banana to free itself.
Then for the body of the speech Tony became serious as he explained that he had been trapped by an alcohol addiction, which proved very hard to admit to himself or his wife. Still, his story ends well as 15 Nov 2016 was when Tony quit drinking. “Just have to let go.”

Raymond Kemp’s evaluation started with pace and great voice as he soothed and vocally swooned us whilst opening with “Tony’s rather soothing vocal variety” … and then surprised with volume shortly afterwards when he use the word “Shock” in the line “gave way with Shock! to the bottle” and then a vocal gavotte with made with the phrase “dancing with the devil”. Soon after he was punchy and playful with his ‘P’s on summarising Tony’s speech: “A poignant, proactive, personal, parable”.

Then Raymond split his analysis into two “content and delivery.” giving structure: For the content, he suggested that Tony shortened his 1-month … 6-month alcohol abstention story to give room for more dialogue with the confession to his wife. With regards to delivery, Raymond avered it was a bit “claustrophobic” and would benefit from Tony using more of the speaking area. There was no slacking with Raymond’s pace through the summary and he ended with a punchy “Just let go”.

Peter Scholtens opened by thanking Tony for “A powerful story” and then Peter did a powerful thing himself, he gave a personal admission that Tony’s story related to his wife alcohol problems, at that point you could feel the audience connect with Peter as he continued to structure his evaluation into “What worked and What could be better”.
Peter talked of Tony moving forward to be very close and intimate with the audience as something that worked. As did a powerful pause between the Monkey trap introduction and “I’m an alcoholic” admission at the start of the body.

Peter was at his most exuberant when he suggested Tony work on vocal variety and demonstrated by upping his volume when quoting Tony’s drinking capabilities were “a badge of honour”. Unfortunately, Peter overwhelmed the wired mike with his volume. And then skillfully pulled a laugh from the audience. By admitting that was probably too much.

The afternoon of speakers for the international speech inspires and educates you whilst entertaining and emotionally moving you, perhaps even moving you to action.

Actions such as switching off that hypnotic TV and getting a life, where we feel free to remove our personal mask and be authentic but flexible enough to change our perspective in life and let go of the things that hold us back, even if it scary stuff like, starting off bad at something new, taking on the nature-nurture debate, or even the harder debates that require demonstrating on the streets, that really champion free speech and can even overthrow a dictator.

And yes, amazingly, all the changes above was covered in speeches at this 8th April Divison-E Conference.

But the winner Roberta Eykholt chose an opposite approach by not wanting to change here dad. She told of her relationship with him, from the giant who’s shoulder she sat, to the forgetful 88-year-old getting married again! Although her family asked her help to fix him, she ended in a way that starts tears forming in one’s eyes by stating “I can’t fix my dad”.

Grace had a new start to her speech, which was endearing, and all about her remote village, and her fond memories of her and her playmates piling up in heaps in front of the only TV. Grace was confident, composed, and convincing as she glowed giving her speech. You would have been impressed as I was, with the difference in the level of her performance that the contest brought out in Grace. Bravo.