Last fall Kylie Baker took the Toastmasters world by storm when she took first place in the evaluation speech contest. How does one provide an encore performance to such an epic run? By taking first place in the District 4 Table Topics speech contest. Let’s take a moment to reconnect with our now back to back champion.
Here we are again. You are not only a District 4 champion, you’re a back to back winner. How does that make you feel?
My ear-to-ear grin afterwards didn’t give it away?
I’m incredibly proud of my efforts and had so much fun competing. I was battling nerves that morning (I hide them well!) but as I stood in a bathroom stall in a power pose before the contest I told myself that all I had to do was go out there and do the best I could. I realized that no one had any expectations of me to win so I let that go and was free to just enjoy the experience.
And enjoy it, I did. I got to talk about my entrepreneurial aspirations and crack some jokes about being a ‘bossy’ female but the best bit came just after the contest when another Toastmaster introduced me to her daughter who said she was inspired by my speech. How cool is that?!
What did you do to prepare for this speech contest? Was there anything you drew from last fall?
Table Topics is one of those contests that is very hard to prepare for. Impromptu speaking happens to be a favourite of mine but I’m not sure you can ever really be prepared for something that is going to come at you out of the blue. Online searches provided guidance on simple speech structures to use and recommended keeping up to date with current events so that I would have topics to draw on when prompted. However, I noticed that, at every level of the competition, I kept using my own story to craft an answer. You really can’t go wrong when talking about things that interest you.
How do you feel you’ve changed, public speaking wise, from one year ago?
I would say I’m more confident in my abilities and think that is evident in the way I comport myself. I am far more comfortable ‘taking up space’ when I’m talking in front of people and would attribute this to my mentor-like role at our club. We have so many enthusiastic new members and I enjoy being able to help them find their strengths and draw out their inner confidence which I feel has enhanced those same qualities in me.
What advice do you have for Toastmasters who are now considering competing in future table topics competition?
Sign up for your club contest and just give it a go. It’s two minutes of fun that might take you to the next level of competition but, even if it doesn’t, you’ll have given your impromptu speaking muscles a workout. All about those small gains 🙂
What’s next for you?
I had more than one person tell me that I need to attempt the Grand Slam and compete in all four contests but I think this coming year holds more leadership opportunities for me. I want to see our club members develop and start integrating more with the broader Toastmasters network. I’d also like to spread a little of the positive message of Toastmasters around and hope to create a few more ‘lifers’ along the way.