Reflections from a Finalist: Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking

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The 2016 World Stage
The World Stage…a.k.a., the “Big Stage.”

The 2016 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking is over.

The stage lights are dim.

The ballroom is empty.

Stress levels are lower.

I can eat real meals again.

Like many Toastmasters who’ve returned to their homes around the globe, I too have made it back to the Midwest.

Now, I have to admit – waking up at home felt good…but there was also a sense of emptiness.

Semifinals stage
The Semifinal #6 Stage

Like when a big celebration you planned for months (think: wedding reception or graduation party) ends. The guests leave and you’re sitting alone. Scanning the room, you observe deflated balloons, wilted streamers, shredded giftwrap covering the floor…and you think:

What just happened here?

It feels like that– because preparing to compete in the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking is an emotional roller coaster with twists and turns and detours and dead ends (shout-out to my finals speech titled, Recalculating).

With each contest you win…club, area, division, district, semifinal, final…the stress gets higher, your hopes get higher – you think: I might really be able to do this!

Semifinalist Wall
The Semifinalist Wall displays the names of nearly 100 Toastmasters champions. It’s a worthy public speaking wall.

All that studying (listening to CD’s from previous public speaking world champions, watching their DVDs, reading books, blogs and articles) I might just be able to do this! And maybe…just maybe, a fifth woman will be crowned “World Champion of Public Speaking!”

Semifinals victory speech
Semifinal victory acceptance speech.

Well…maybe that’ll be next year.

So what did I gain from this?

Put simply, I’m a lot wiser. I learned many lessons, made friends, had new experiences – pushed myself to limits I never dreamed of.

Many photo opportunities with new friends!

Getting on that world stage. Being one of the top 10 public speakers in the world.

Wow.

This was a great start to a first time journey.

More blog posts are coming, because many have asked, “What’s it like competing on the World Stage? How did you prepare for the semifinals? What’s the conference like? Why did you do this to begin with?

There are so many stories within stories, that it’s difficult to put it into one blog post…because that post would go on forever.

More to come…but for now:

I’m home and getting reacquainted with “normal.” Now about cleaning up that theoretical gift wrap….

Till then. The joy is in the journey.

–KK

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