Alan Swartz wins district humorous speech contest
November 19, 2011
It’s hard to beat a humorous speaker when he begins as a chainsaw-wielding-Alpha male who, in less than five minutes, sports lipstick, eyeshadow, blush, a blond wig and a pink silky shirt with two bulges in just the right place. Plus, Summit Toastmasters member Alan Swartz had practiced his humorous speech 80-100 times, not only memorizing it, but really feeling it – and feeling confident.
As a result, he won the Toastmasters District 26 Conference in Colorado Springs Nov. 12. That might not sound like a big deal, but it’s as far as you can go as a Toastmaster in the humorous category: Speakers start out in an area competition – in this case, with 10 participants on Oct. 1, then winners move on to a division contest, this year held Oct. 22 in Lakewood with six areas represented from the Western Slope to the western side of the Front Range. From there, Swartz competed on Nov. 12 in Colorado Springs against six of the winning speakers from six districts representing 175 clubs.
“When you get in the zone, you’re able to look at individual people and not (just) at the crowd, but you have to really feel confident,” he said.
Though he’s been in Toastmasters since July 1988, this is the first time he’s made it to the district level. But then again, he’s been busy doing other things. After getting out of the Army in 1980, he took a job at Colorado State University Extension and dedicated himself to the five-year process of becoming a district governor in Toastmasters.
His speech, which was much more akin to a skit with a dozen props, stemmed from a comedy speech titled “I Am a Woman.” Last year Swartz worked on a speech called “Let Me Be Me.” From there, he began wondering how he could develop himself more, which is where his Alpha male side started to befriend his feminine side. (Check it out on youtube: http://bit.ly/tyhTZ3.)
“He really gets into the (role),” said Yvonne Bryant, vice president of Summit Toastmasters education. “He’s very emotive, very passionate. He brings people into his speeches no matter if it’s humorous or not.”
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But perhaps more importantly, Swartz has been “an inspiration to our entire club,” Bryant said. “He’s been a great mentor to most of our members. He’s been very involved in people’s development, not only in speaking skills but also in leadership skills.”
One of Swartz’s mentors is an 82-year-old man, Joe Sabah, who despite having a stroke, still helps as many groups as he can. Swartz says he’s still growing in terms of speaking and now eyeing hundreds of service clubs along the Front Range in which to speak.
“I love to grow every week and learn somebody’s life story – learn something in a different aspect,” Swartz said about why he continues in Toastmasters. “It’s like going to college all the time, getting something new every time.”
And, he really does get a kick out of encouraging others.
“I really enjoy talking to people, seeing someone who has a lot of talent and seeing what they can do with their speaking skills,” he said. “They find out they can do more than they thought they could do because sometimes they just need encouragement.”
And, a little lipstick and eyeshadow apparently doesn’t hurt.