SEQUIM — As a 16-year old exchange student living in a small village in Peru, Lindy MacLaine felt like a fish out of water. Little did she know that 40 years later her experience would serve as the basis for a speech that would propel her to the semi-final round of Toastmasters’ International Speech Contest.
On Thursday, MacLaine will step on stage in Chicago during the 2018 International Convention as a semifinalist in the world’s largest speech competition.
The road to Chicago began months ago. Like tens of thousands of Toastmasters around the world, MacLaine first had to conquer the speech contest at her local Toastmasters club.
“I have theater and performance experience,” MacLaine said. “I joined Toastmasters to get back into being on stage. But, even more than that, I needed to take my performance experience and learn to craft my own messages.”
MacLaine said that attending SKWIM Toastmasters in Sequim has helped her evolve beyond performance, from interpreting the words of others to finding her own voice and speaking as herself.
MacLaine competed again at area and division contests. As a division winner, MacLaine moved on to the District 32 speech contest. There she faced off with five other Toastmasters from Alaska and parts of Western Washington.
“It’s been a learning experience,” MacLaine said. “You might think it would get monotonous to repeat the same speech, but each time I have a chance to compete or practice, I see the material and my performance evolving. It’s a unique and satisfying experience to grow a speech this way.”
She said Toastmasters provides immediate feedback and evaluation.
“I’m indebted to my fellow Toastmasters who’ve provided invaluable mentoring, coaching and encouragement,” MacLaine says.
Making it to the semifinals brought on a new level of challenges. Competitors must pay their own way to the international convention.
“It’s a big financial commitment to get to Chicago,” MacLaine said.
In addition to the time commitment to prepare and travel and registration costs, there are lots of little expenses that add up along the way.
MacLaine — a self-employed creativity coach, writer and marketing consultant — received donations through a crowdfunding campaign.
Semifinalists also must prepare for the possibility of making it to the finals. That means preparing and practicing a second speech on the chance they will compete in the World Championship of Public Speaking.
MacLaine says she’s hoping to make it to the finals. If she does advance, MacLaine and nine other finalists will have 48-hours to put the final polish on their second speeches.
Like the speech about her year in Peru, MacLaine’s second speech is about an adventure she had during a period of transition in her life. Themes of kindness, courage, humility, and personal transformation run through both speeches.
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., the organization’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries.
Covering Alaska and parts of Western Washington, District 32 of Toastmasters International supports more than 100 clubs.
North Olympic Peninsula Peninsula clubs are:
• Jefferson County Toastmasters Club — meets from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. every second and fourth Thursday each month at the second floor of Seaport Landing, 1201 Hancock St., Port Townsend. The website is at jeffco.toastmastersclubs.org.
• Skwim Toastmasters Club — meets from 7 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. every first and third Tuesday at The Gathering Place at Sunland, 137 Fairway Drive, Sequim. This is the same building as Windermere Real Estate, only on the other side. The website is at 907529.toast mastersclubs.org.
• Port Angeles Club — meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Monday except holidays in the Clallam Transit office building entrance to have a member bring them in. The website is at 25.toastmastersclubs.org.
For more information about District 32 Toastmasters, visit http://d32toastmasters.org.