The second parter of our champions spotlight highlights Kylie Baker, District 4 Evaluation Speech Champion. Kylie rocked the stage at the District competition and gave us all one of the greatest gifts known to man, feedback. Let’s take a moment to get to know our newly crowned champion.
Tell us a little about your Toastmasters career. What clubs do you belong to? How long have you been with the organization? What made you join?
I’ve been a member of Sierra Speakers since October 2013. I’d known about Toastmasters and had it on my ‘to-do’ list for a couple of years before I finally decided to pull the trigger and join a club. The meetings weren’t exactly what I thought they would be. I had it in my head that they would be held over dinner and people would be sitting around tables giving ‘toasts’ – yep, embarrassing but true. However, the reality was so much better and after visiting Sierra Speakers for the first time, I liked it so much that I joined up on my second visit.
How does it feel to be a District speech champion? What did you do to prepare for the big event?
It was pretty surreal hearing my name called out. I love evaluating and was so happy to even get to compete at the conference but then to come home as a champion – elated.
I geeked out a bit in my preparation; I researched tips from past winners and created a worksheet that helped me to structure how I was taking notes. I then used this to practice evaluating speeches that I found on YouTube. Helpful tip: don’t try this on the International Speech winners – it’s hard work!
It really comes down to practice and making a point to hone your skills regularly. Stefanie Chow invited me to be part of a launch meeting at Twitch a few weeks back and I jumped at the chance to practice in front of an audience. I ended up evaluating a speech by Scott Brown, my soon-to-be competition!
What led you to compete in this year’s contest?
I’m our club VPE and am a big proponent of contests as learning opportunities for our members – even attending to support your club members can be helpful. I remember going to watch my first area contest in support of my friends back in 2014. Seeing the format of the meeting and watching a host of different speaking styles inspired me to enter the Fall contest later that year.
This year, I wanted to compete for my own interests but also to encourage others to join me. Leading from the pack, you might say. I was honored to have club members support me throughout my journey and am very grateful for their words of encouragement along the way. I hope my win inspires more of them to compete in the future.
How would you describe your speaking style?
One word: Expressive. You’d be forgiven for thinking I was Italian if you saw the amount of hand-talking I do in daily life. I try to tame it a little when delivering a speech but hope to still come across as animated and engaging.
What advice do you have for other Toastmasters who are considering competing in future contests?
It’s a Nike situation – Just Do It. You’ll learn, you may win, and if not, you’ll come away with a new experience, having pushed one of your boundaries just a little further out.
When you’re not in Toastmasters, what do you like to do for fun?
I love being active and am part of the November Project here in SF. I work out with them a couple of times a week and can always find someone from the tribe who’ll swim with me in Aquatic Park, bike Hawk Hill, or pound the streets and trails around our beautiful city.
I’m also a keen baker (by name and by nature) and this year saw me baking my first wedding cake for a friend’s wedding. My friends and colleagues were the lucky recipients of my cake trials for that one 🙂
Thank you, Kylie, for the great performance and the great interview. We can’t wait to see what you do next.
What questions do you have for our champ? Feel free to leave a comment below.