BY CONNOR RIDLEY
Davis Campus was brimming with charisma last Thursday when it hosted the Toastmasters Speech Evaluation and International Speech Contests.
Matthew Bergeron of Sheridan Davis Bruins Toastmasters took first place in the evaluation category while Sebastian Acosta won the speech contest.
About 50 representatives from the GTA were present, including Cheryl Bates, director of Area B-33, encompassing the region of Halton and Brampton West.
Despite the formality of the event, the atmosphere was warm and inviting with the audience freely laughing at the quips of the contestants and announcers.
Members were not afraid to express themselves in more whimsical manners, including International Speech Contest runner-up Ron Fitzgerald, who invoked childlike enthusiasm in his speech titled Hold That Thought.
Many of the performances used humour and focused on optimistic subjects such as learning to see the good in a bad situation.
“I see two of you guys, which is awesome because you are all amazing,” said Lauren Boyce during the International Speech Contest, managing to make light of the stroke she suffered at age nine.
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The Speech Evaluation Contest involved a series of judges observing a speech, followed by a few minutes to compose an evaluation that they then presented to the assembly.
Cindy Tate’s When a House Becomes a Home was the subject of evaluation, praised for being relatable and persevering. First-place winner Bergeron’s evaluation shared this praise but has criticism about the speaker’s motion and pacing.
Up second was the more straightforward International Speech Contest, which involved several members in good standing giving five to seven minute speeches followed by critiques.
Victors from both contests were awarded at the end.
The presiding contest chair was Tram Pham, Vice President of Membership at the Sheridan Davis Bruins club.
Proceedings were introduced by Luciana Belea, President of Sheridan Davis Bruins Toastmasters, who graduated last year from Social Service Work.
While most Sheridan clubs forbid alumni from holding executive positions in accordance with Student Union regulations, the college’s various Toastmasters clubs across the campuses follow the rules set by Toastmasters International.
Last year the Davis Bruins club managed to attain Select Distinguished Status thanks to efforts of past president Angel Neilson, according to Belea.
Toastmasters International is a worldwide organization devoted to education based on communication, public speaking and leadership skills. They are non-profit with even the most important members being volunteers.
The organization holds fundraisers and educational events to help train people in speech and leadership regardless of physical or mental ability.
Members and individual clubs undertake various goals and challenges in order to rank up in a process Belea compared to leveling up in a video game.
Manuals are provided with speeches and projects to be completed. Those who have completed all seven manuals are awarded the title of Distinguished Toastmaster. This process usually takes around five to eight years.