June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Toastmasters talk food for fun during contest at meeting

MEDINA — They’re the toast of the town when it comes to giving speeches on the fly, off the cuff or in a heartbeat.

Five members of Toastmasters Club 941 took center stage at the group’s Wednesday evening meeting to compete in humorous speech and table topic contests.

Jeannine Murray, president of the Medina club, invited contestants to take a deep breath, step up to the podium and expound on the joys of a favorite breakfast food.

The choices ranged from Cheerios to forbidden foods like bacon, eggs and toast spread thickly with butter to salad as Linda Glassburn, Jennifer Whelan and Ann Yuzwa took on the topic. They made two minutes of extemporaneous talk look easy, and picking a winner difficult, but judges eventually tapped Yuzwa as the winner, followed by Whelan and Glassburn.

“Have you noticed we have a lot of fun and clap a lot?” Murray asked the audience as they waited for the next round of competition to begin. She said the contest format was more structured than regular meetings.

Fun is a cornerstone of the club, which fosters the opportunity to learn how to communicate with confidence and style.

“It’s like having lots of teachers,” said Patty White, club vice president of education, as she prepared to judge the humorous speech contest.

Curtis Perkins, chief judge for the evening, said he was a shy person until he got a Toastmasters’ makeover.

“Chet (Pucilowski, a former City Council member) worked five years to get me to join,” Perkins said. He credits the club with giving him tools for success in business and the community, citing positions he has held as chairman of the Medina Area Chamber of Commerce, secretary of the board for Hospice of Medina County and president of the Medina Kiwanis Club.

Suzi Kay and Norma Minnich went head-to-head in the humorous speech contest, in which contestants come with a prepared five- to seven-minute presentation. It’s not stand-up comedy, but a gentler kind of humor, the type people trot out at parties and reunions.

Minnich embellished her tale of how her young sons taught her to ride a bike with phrases like “family fun is an oxymoron” and “totally tamed that two-wheeler,” lines of patter that earned her first place.

Winners will compete at the area contest for the chance to take part in the Southern Division competition. Division winners take it to the next level at the District 10 Fall Conference Nov. 7 at the Holiday Inn in Strongsville.

The Medina club meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Eagles Club, 699 W. Lafayette Road.

“And don’t forget,” Murray said as members prepared to leave, “the theme of the next meeting is National Chicken Month.”

Contact Judy A. Totts at (330) 721-4063 or jtotts@ohio.net.