Second-year student places first at District Toastmasters Competition in Vermont

Local Toastmasters club, Bagtown Babblers, pool funds and support Talia Steeves to her win

Talia Steeves has always loved giving speeches. “I was that nerdy kid back in middle school who did speeches for fun,” she said. Her passion and skill was rewarded when she won the district Toastmasters competition earlier this month in Vermont for her speech about her pants falling down while performing at a singing competition.

Toastmasters International is an organization with clubs around the world whose goal is to help people improve communication, public speaking and leadership skills. The Sackville chapter, the Bagtown Babblers, was started in 2011 and welcomes both community members and students.

“I wish that I knew about Toastmasters when I was a student,” said Ewan Stafford, president of Bagtown Babblers and club coach for Toastmasters in Miramichi. “I was never comfortable speaking in class, let alone presenting in front of the class. Having the confidence to give a presentation in front of your class is a skill that every student needs while studying and when they enter the workforce.” Stafford highlights that Toastmasters isn’t just about public speaking, but also about learning skills like thinking on your feet, planning and running meetings and organizing projects.

Community members and students are welcome to join local toastmasters club. Toastmasters/Submitted

Steeves, a second-year anthropology and sociology student, first heard about the Toastmasters while flipping through an old magazine in Avard-Dixon. Steeves joined in her first year and now sits on the executive as vice-president of membership.

The club has been a supportive community for Steeves. Her most recent speech won at the club-, area-, division-level competitions, then the district competition in Vermont. Her fellow members rallied together to ensure  her attendance at the Vermont conference. They pooled their money and found her a drive and a roommate so that she could afford to go. “They were so eager to see me there.… I wouldn’t have thought about going if it wasn’t for them. And it was a super helpful experience. I got to see how much bigger it is then just our little club,” Steeves said.

The Babblers would love to see more student participation in the club. Steeves is currently the only student member and enjoys the intergenerational community. “For me, it’s most beneficial because I’m learning from their life experiences, which is super cool and not something you get in a university classroom where everybody is your age,” Steeves said.

Steeves is unsure when she will compete next, but is happy to keep up with the weekly meetings. If students want to join or find out more about Toastmasters, they can contact Ewan Trafford at ewantrafford@outlook.com.

Steeves is unsure when she will compete next, but is happy to keep up with the weekly meetings. If students want to join or find out more about Toastmasters, they can contact Ewan Trafford at ewantrafford@outlook.com.

Lily Falk