Toastmasters International Speech Contest (Here I Come!)

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I’ll be flying to Orlando to finally participate in the semi-finals for the 2012 Toastmasters International Speech Contest. I started this journey back in March when I won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest at the club level in Park City, Utah, then the Area level (Salt Lake), then Division (upper half of Utah), and finally District (multiple Rocky Mountain states). Now I give my speech again (entitled Wynton Marsalis Had My Back, about when my teenage son got to meet his idol, legendary jazz trumpet player Wynton Marsalis) on Thursday of this week (August 16) at 5:00 p.m. Orlando time. (Send me good mojo at that moment!)

To share with you what I’ll be going through during the Toastmasters International Speech Contest, there are 81 semi-finalists from all over the world (of which I am one). I will be representing Toastmasters District 15, which encompasses Utah, Idaho, and parts of Oregon, Wyoming and Nevada. After we all speak on Thursday, the semi-finalists are whittled down to nine finalists. Those finalists speak again (on Saturday morning, August 18, at 10:30), but they have to give a brand new speech.

Derrick and Wynton Marsalis backstage after Wynton’s concert at Kingsbury Hall, SLC, Feb 7, 2011

From these nine finalists the judges pick third and second place speakers, as well as a Grand Champion. The Grand Champion is considered the greatest public speaker in the world. Needless to say, the winner of this juicy accolade typically goes on to a very lucrative career as a keynote speaker. THAT would be a dream come true for me; to be paid a real wage (not comedy club stipends—which usually consist of free booze, some food, and very little money) to get up in front of a crowd and pontificate. Count me in!

But first I have to clear this next hurdle, which is to do well in the semi-finals on Thursday and advance to the finals. Obviously, the competition gets stiffer at each level, so I have no idea what to expect when I get to Orlando. I’m just happy to have made it this far, and that I’m invited to the party.

So wish me luck in this very timely endeavor. With my kids being older and getting ready to leave the nest, I’m hoping to get back into comedy and speaking without having to start all over again too far down the ladder. The Toastmasters International Speech Contest could fast track me back to at least the mid rungs, which is about where I was when the babies came along.

And the irony of that is without those wonderful babies I’d have nothing interesting, poignant, or funny to talk about.

So stay tuned. It’s a big week. I promise I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. To every teacher who yelled at me for talking in class when I was a kid, I would just like to say…shut up.


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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on