Marielle Pariseau

Last month I became a semi-finalist in the Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC) Prize. More than 2,000 people attend this conference held at the prestigious Yale University. Nerve racking: you bet! But the Park City Toastmasters had helped me hone the speeches that got me into the semi-finals.

I joined Park City Toastmasters in January 2013 to help me with speaking in public but also to make new friends as I was in the process of moving from Ontario, Canada, to Utah. That was one triple good move! Not only did I discover a group of people sharing a common goal, I also found new friends and great mentors.

As I participated in the weekly meetings, I discovered the value of peer reviews wisely designed to educate and motivate. I grew in confidence with every evaluation. With the support of my mentors, I took on roles within our club that I wouldn’t have considered on my own. The result: a second place finish in District 15 International Speech Contest, a Triple Crown Award and Toastmaster of the Year in 2014. Quite an accomplishment for a kid who was afraid of answering the phone well into her teen years and always uncomfortable speaking in public.

My journey to the Global Health and Innovation Conference Semi-Finals meant preparing 3 speeches and two 5 minutes videos. The members of Park City Toastmasters supported every moment of my journey as I repeatedly presented in front of our club. After each presentation, love notes filled with purposeful comments, guided me in honing each speech and video. Meeting over coffee with mentors Julio Garreaud, Stacy Dymalski and Jon Henry boosted my confidence as they pointed to ways of weaving story and humor into my rather clinical speeches. Priceless.

Communication skills are fundamental in reaching an audience, influencing them, and sharing your message. Toastmasters International Mission Is: We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Park City Toastmasters embodies this statement. Not only does the club create a safe space for every member to stretch their comfort zone as communicator and leader, the club pulls on the stretch, expanding the comfort zone beyond what I could have ever imagined. I owe my semi-finalist placing in the GHIC Prize to Park City Toastmasters and all its members who took the time to inject their insights into my frame to create a message that now has the power to reach and influence audiences.