South Florida Toastmaster Errol Leandre Headed to World Championship Semifinals
July 3, 2020 – The Toastmasters public speaking champion for South Florida and The Bahamas learned this week that he will compete in the semifinals of the World Championship of Public Speaking.
Errol Leandre of Homestead won the Toastmasters District 47 contest in May and has now cleared a quarterfinal round of elimination. With 16,800 local clubs in 143 countries, Toastmasters International is a global non-profit public speaking and leadership development organization with more than 358,000 members. Leandre has earned a chance to compete with the best among them.
Caption: Errol Leandre
[ download from https://toastmastersd47.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/errol.jpg ]
“This is surreal,” said Leandre, an IT Project Manager for the Miami Dade Public Schools. “I didn’t expect any of this. When I joined Toastmasters a year ago, I just wanted to learn to speak comfortably in front of people.” When he gave the first version of what became his district winning speech at Cutler Bay Toastmasters in Homestead, suddenly other members began saying, “We’ve got to get you ready for competition.”
“I had no idea how much that speech affected others,” he says.
After getting over his initial reluctance, he found himself a few months later telling his mentors, “I can’t do this on Zoom” after the latest rounds of competition were moved online. “I like it better when I can look into the eyes of the people I’m speaking to,” he explains.
Still, other speakers were facing the same challenge, and Leandre wound up being crowned the best International Speech Contest speaker in the district, stretches from Port St. Lucie to the Key West in Florida and also encompasses the Bahamas.
Based on the video of his winning district speech, judges from the Southeastern United States, the Caribbean, and South America picked him to represent their region in the worldwide competition. At an annual convention in August, a semifinal round will narrow the contenders to eight speakers who will compete in the World Championship finals.
Leandre’s inspirational speech, “Accept What I Allow,” recalls the stuttering issue he suffered as a young man, which got in the way not just of “public speaking” but other ambitions. For example, there was a time when, as a high school football player, he got moved from defensive tackle to the position he really wanted, middle linebacker, but found himself unable to call plays. The more he let his frustration show, the worse the problem was. Yet when he learned to accept who he was and build more confidence, the issue melted away.
Prior to the district contest, Leandre had won competitions at multiple levels — club, area, and division — sharpening his speech each time.
In any other year, getting this far in the competition would have meant travel — the annual convention was originally scheduled to be held in Paris. Instead, a virtual convention has been scheduled for August 24-29.
Note to editors: We have been directed not to share Errol’s speech video while he is in contention for the World Championship, but we can make it available for your reporter to view.
David F. Carr for District 47
David F. Carr, DTM, was the District Webmaster for 2019-2020. He is a Past President and VPE of Club Awesome in Coral Springs, FL, the Charter President and current Treasurer of Online Presenters Toastmasters, and the organizer of the WordPress for Toastmasters open source software project.
David is a writer and editor with years of experience at technology trade publications such as Internet World, Baseline Magazine, and Information Week. He wrote the book Social Collaboration for Dummies and has keynoted at technology conferences internationally. See davidfcarr.com