Darin Kowalis, a member of the <a href=”http://794.toastmastersclubs.org/”>Box Elder Toastmasters Club</a>, earned a first place award Saturday, April 22, during a Toastmasters International competition at Weber State University. Participants in the contest included members of all Utah Toastmasters clubs north of Salt Lake City.
“He took the first prize trophy, and off he goes now for the next round of the competition,” said Gillian Whitney, the Box Elder club’s vice president of public relations. “This is a big deal. I judged a competition earlier this month in Salt Lake City, and I’m telling you, it’s really, really difficult to judge when they’re all so good.”
Taking top honors in the “International Speech” category of the event, Kowalis, who lives in Logan, will now advance to a five-state contest being held Saturday, May 6, in Park City. If he wins there, Kowalis will compete in Vancouver, Canada during the 2017 <a href=”https://www.toastmasters.org/events/2017-international-convention”>Toastmasters International Convention</a> in August.
International Speeches must be five to seven minutes in length and can address any subject. Kowalis said his winning speech is designed to be motivational. His intention when giving the presentation, he explained, is to move people to action, helping them recognize the importance of being in the present and putting aside distractions. Illustrating his point with a personal story, Kowalis said one of his personal regrets is to have missed an important moment during his son’s swim race because he was focused on something else.
“I want to wake people up to say, ‘Look! You need to live in the moment,” he said. “My wife had rheumatic heart disease when she was expecting our son, and his life truly is a miracle. I don’t want to miss any more of the miracle because I’m not paying attention, and I’d like to help others avoid having similar regrets.”
Kowalis has been involved with <a href=”https://www.toastmasters.org/”>Toastmasters International</a> for nearly nine years and said the experience has changed his life. While he originally joined the organization to become a better public speaker, he said he’s especially enjoyed the leadership training he’s received along the way. Kowalis credits Toastmasters with helping him launch a new career in car sales and said the confidence he’s gained is a “game changer.”
“When I joined Toastmasters, I was afraid of people,” he said. “My life would be a lot different if I had not been in Toastmasters. It’s helped me overcome a lot of fears.”
Whitney expressed similar sentiments. She joined Toastmasters four years ago and said being part of the organization has enriched her life tremendously.
“Being in Toastmasters, I’m able to be ‘on’ at any given moment,” she said. “I don’t have any self-consciousness. I’m able to say what I need to say and communicate precisely what I want to do. In so many different ways—in my personal interactions with people, business, and just anything I have to do—I find that being in Toastmasters gives me the opportunity to really hone and polish my public speaking skills and be the best communicator that I can be.”
Toastmasters International has more than 313,000 members in 126 countries. The Box Elder club welcomes participants from both Box Elder and Cache counties and meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. The group is a “supper club” and alternates its meetings between Bert’s Cafe in Brigham City and the Bluebird Restaurant in Logan. More information is available at <a href=”http://794.toastmastersclubs.org/”>794.toastmastersclubs.org</a>.