Local winners talk their way into next competition

Oak Bay Toastmasters Club hosts area competition, qualifying winners to higher level

A pair of public speakers are moving forward after earning wins at the Oak Bay Toastmasters Club speech contest.

Jack Oldeheuvel won for most humorous speech and Mary Douthwaite took the title for best impromptu speech. The pair are set to compete at the Oak Bay-hosted area competition. Winners there head to division level, then district and on to regional, then international competition.

“You learn a few skills but you also get to associate with some interesting people,” said Oldeheuvel, a member of various clubs off and on since 1984.

He looks forward to heading into different levels of competition, facing members of other clubs as Oak Bay hosts the next event, yet to be scheduled.

“That brings together about five clubs,” Oldeheuvel said. “You get a chance to look at different faces and speak to different people.”

During the competition at St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, where the local Toastmasters meet, he recounted a grizzly bear encounter story. “It was marauding our camp and the situation I thought was funny. I didn’t think it was funny at the time … looking back things can be funny,” he said.

In the “table topics” competition, Douthwaite also recounted a memory in response to the question “what time would you go back to?”  to earn the impromptu honours.

She recalled a childhood family car trip from San Francisco to Canada. “I talked about a particular family holiday that was really, really not fun at the time, but it was funny,” the longtime Oak Bay resident  said. “It was fun talking about a terrible family holiday.”

Scoring is divided equally between content and delivery. For Douthwaite, the key was to be funny, truthful and a tad inspirational.

“I like to get up there and just really tell the truth,” she said. “Going through awful holidays taught me that everything in the end becomes a golden memory.”

She’s been involved in Toastmasters on and off for eight years.

“I keep going back to it. I bet I will for a long time, if not forever. I find it fun primarily. But it is more than that. It’s mentally challenging, it forces me to think,” she said.

“It keeps me feeling confident and it makes you aware of what’s important to you … it reinforces that, reminding yourself what is actually important to you.”

Oak Bay Toastmasters Club meets at St. Patrick Parish Hall, 2060 Haultain St. The group gathers on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. Visit oakbaytoastmasters.ca to learn more.