Two Blue Cross Toastmasters Advance to Division Speech Competition

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees Kristie Stocker and Crystal Farmer took home gold and silver medals in the Toastmasters’ Area Competition last month.

The speech contest had two categories: Humorous Speech and Table Topics.

Humorous Speech contestants prepare five to seven minute speeches and are judged based on content, delivery and language. Kristie Stocker, BCBSM graphic designer, finished first place in the Area Competition with her speech titled, “Humility is a virtue, doggone it!”

“A humorous speech should not only draw smiles and laughs from the audience, it should show that life shouldn’t be taken seriously,” said Stocker. “In my case, I took several mishaps at a dog show and made fun of it…and myself!”

Table Topics – something also performed during Toastmasters meetings – is a bit different. Since most of the talking we do every day is impromptu speaking – table topics are designed to help members speak off the cuff.

“From job interviews to entering a roomful of strangers, our extemporaneous speaking skills are tested every single day,” said Crystal Farmer, Blue Cross customer service representative and president of Skillmasters, BCBSM’s Toastmasters club. “Practicing table topics at Toastmasters meetings has given me the confidence to think on my feet – whether it’s answering unanticipated questions in meetings or giving a few words at events.”

During this portion of the Area Competition, contestants were taken out of the room and brought back in one by one to give a one to two minute response to the same question. Farmer came in second place in this category.

“When I hear a table topics question, a million things come to mind,” said Farmer. “Each time I try to remember to pause, organize my thoughts, and provide a focused and meaningful answer.”

Both Stocker and Farmer will advance to the Division Competition, scheduled for Saturday, October 25 at the Michigan State Detroit Center at 3408 Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Doors open at 11 a.m. and the contest starts at 11:45 a.m. This contest is open to the public and admission and parking is free.

Toastmasters International helps members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills through more than 10,000 clubs worldwide. Blue Cross’ Toastmasters Club, Skillmasters, falls into District 29 with more than 140 Toastmasters clubs and 2,500 members.

“A common myth about Toastmasters is we’re always serious and all we do is present speeches,” said Stocker. “Skillmasters, and other clubs I’ve visited, have the friendliest, most positive people I’ve met and it’s not just concentrated on public speaking. It’s a perfect platform to learn and practice leadership skills, conversational speaking and networking skills. If growing your skillset in any of these categories interests you, I encourage you to sit in at our next meeting and learn about what we can offer you.”

To find a club near you, visit toastmasters.org.

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