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Staff member qualifies for international Toastmasters speech competition

  • woman with trophy
  • group of people

Posted on May 25, 2017

In August, Noreen Savage, administrative assistant in the dean's office of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, will compete against other world-class presenters and give the speech of her lifetime.

Savage, a longtime member of the GVSU-Allendale Toastmasters Club, earned a spot in the semifinals at the Toastmasters International Speech Competition in Vancouver, British Columbia. Getting there was no small feat; Savage advanced by winning speech competitions at the Toastmasters Club, Area, Division and District levels. Toastmasters has clubs in 142 countries, representing 102 districts; Savage will represent District 62.

"This is such a great honor," Savage said. "I look forward to meeting people from around the world to talk about this common bond we share: perfecting our craft of public speaking."

The speech Savage will give at the semifinals is about her mother, education and not giving up on your goals. It's the same speech that earned her a district title and one she has given several times before GVSU club members.

Savage said she will continue to tweak it before August with the help of a professional coach. Winners of the semifinal round are required to present a new speech in the finals. She is currently rereading the 400 blog posts she has written to find a topic and prepare a second speech.

"This speech isn't really about me. It's about the message and what the audience members will take away," she said.

Savage joined Toastmasters in 2006. The GVSU-Allendale club has earned President Distinguished status; it meets weekly and includes community members, students (including international students), faculty and staff members. Another Grand Valley Toastmasters chapter meets on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Savage, who has earned Distinguished Toastmaster status, is also president of the West Michigan Advanced Toastmasters Club, which meets monthly and draws people from a one-hour radius to Grand Rapids.

She said she has learned much more from Toastmasters than how to give a good speech. "It's learning how to run a meeting, taking leadership roles both within and outside of the club, and learning how to take and give feedback," Savage said.