Penticton’s Toastmasters tests members

Toastmasters from the South Okanagan battled through the elimination process to send the top dog to compete amongst their divisional rivals.

Angela Jung

Angela Jung

Earlier this spring, Toastmasters from the South Okanagan battled through the elimination process to send the top dog to compete amongst their divisional rivals in Kelowna.

The local talent was unable to advance to the district level, which will be held in Victoria.

Toastmaster clubs are comprised of people seeking to improve their speaking and leadership abilities. Through weekly meetings, members are given the opportunity to both perform as speakers before a crowd, and also gauge the performances of formulated speeches. During regular meets, evaluations help members to improve through constructive critiques.

During the qualifying event in March, Toastmasters from around the South Okanagan competed against their peers at the area level, which brought out members from two clubs in Penticton and one in Oliver. Those delivering original speeches were competing in the International Speech Competition, and the members who analyzed the concocted speech were part of the evaluation contest.

Both the top scoring speaker and evaluator advanced to the division level – which took place in Kelowna on April 19.

Qualifying for that competition were the top performers at the area showdown, where Angela Jung won the international speech contest, and Sean Wruz was the winner of the evaluation contest.

Jung’s speech was titled Through My Eyes, in which she shared a personal story of new friends who provided overwhelming assistance while her eyes were not functioning properly. The inspiration for her topic came about during a reflection of the experience.

“I didn’t think I was going to compete this year because I didn’t have anything to talk about — but because I went through the experience that my speech goes into, about getting laser eye surgery and how my friends were there for me – I all of a sudden got this idea that I should write a love letter to my friends, and my speech was the love letter.”

The speeches range from five to seven minutes and any topic can be chosen by the presenter. Wruz, who won the evaluation contest, competed against two other Toastmasters and he was chosen as the most in-sync with the club’s judging criteria.

Jung said her focus now will be on the humorous speech contest which will be held in the fall.

“A major piece of Toastmasters is listening, and how well you listen and offer feedback,” said Jodi Bird, area 38 governor. “And the feedback should always be supportive, while at the same time giving people points of improvements and things to grow on.”

Jung and Wruz competed in the divisional round in Kelowna, where they went up against the top members of other chapters from throughout the division.

Placing first in the international speech contest was David Bastin, Angela Jung was the runner up, and Reen Rose finished third. The evaluation contest was won by Mary Anthes; Brad Smart placed second, and Theresa Shaver came in third.

The first-place winners will be competing in Victoria with the goal of qualifying for the world level competition, which is held annually. Out of more than 14,000 clubs, members from around the globe will compete at the world level, which takes place at Las Vegas in Caesar’s Palace, August.

The Penticton Toastmasters Club meets Tuesdays 6 to 9 p.m. at the Shatford Centre.