|A slip of the tongue was all that separated the
World Champion of Public Speaking, from, well, toast.
The final event in the 74th Annual Toastmasters Conference
brought the world's most impeccable speakers to the Westin
Harbour Castle yesterday.
The rules were simple.
Speeches could be no less than four minutes, 30 seconds; no
more than seven minutes, 30 seconds.
And they had to be fresh.
Contenders wasted little time in targeting the heart,
because, as every good Toastmaster knows, the cornerstone of
communication is reaching that most vulnerable organ.
And so speakers laid siege to the audience of 1,600 —
reuniting with fathers, inspiring troubled youth and inciting
deaf children to sign "I love
Eventually, those five-minute bullets took a toll on the
"Honestly, I got tired of all the sob stories," said George
Conover of Kentucky. "I was like, come on, somebody's got to
Then Lance Miller stormed the stage.
The California Toastmaster used the analogy of parking
validation to show the importance of validating others "by
accentuating the positive."
His anchor phrase was "cha-ching," which he used so often the
audience gleefully began chipping in the last syllable.
Miller won handily.
When he stepped up to the stage to accept the championship
|trophy, the first word out of his mouth was "CHA-CHING!"
Then he thanked L. Ron Hubbard, the late founder of
Scientology, for helping him "identify and overcome my personal
Standing on the sidelines, a tearful J.A. Gamache rued his
own personal barrier: the clock. The contender from Laval, Que.,
had gone three seconds over the time limit.
Perhaps he had dangled one too many metaphors, or fell to his
knees once too often, or made just a hair too much use of
"It's okay," said Gamache, surrounded by supporters
afterward. "It's okay.
"I've grown as a human being. Those three seconds don't take
anything away from that."
— Christian Cotroneo