Photo: Calvin Duncan

Backstage with Calvin Duncan, DTM


By Calvin Duncan: excerpted from his personal journal entry…

2017 Toastmasters International Semi-Final competition for the World Championship of Public Speaking®, Vancouver, Canada


Day before contest – Contest Briefing

It was nine of them. All nine different. Different names, different accents, and different genders. I introduced myself to everyone, took a group photo and established connections on LinkedIn. Our group was number one. The contest master shared the contest rules then ask if we had any questions. After addressing the numerous inquiries, she presented a deck of cards that would be used for assigning speaking orders. I selected #5–which in my opinion was a good draw.

Contest day

On contest day, I woke up at 6:00am Pacific time—still suffering from jet lag, took a shower, got dressed, and headed over to the convention hall for rehearsal and mic check. I was feeling good. I just kept telling myself, this is your big chance, the moment you worked so hard for. You know your speech; you just need to deliver it flawlessly.

About an hour passed, I was backstage anxiously waiting.  They called contestant number 5. It was my turn to get mic’d up. I took off the jacket of my favorite black-grey pinstripe suit. Lifted and extended both arms to allow the cute brown-skin curvaceous Canadian lady to fasten my mic controller to my trousers. She then held my jacket open as I slid both arms into the sleeve holes.  I felt like royalty! After getting both arms through, I adjusted the collar of my black-grey pinstripe jacket. Then I continued to listen to the speaker on stage.

At the conclusion of her speech. The contest master called for a minute of silence. OMG that was the longest minute of my life!

Her next words were:

  • Contestant Number 5
  • Calvin Duncan: “Accept the Things”.
  • “Accept the Things”: Calvin Duncan.

I sauntered onto the stage satiated with aplomb and anxiety covered by a smile the size of Texas. I strutted over to the Contest Master, extended my right hand placing my left hand over her hand to project sincerity. I paused for a moment, my next words were

Sticks and Stones may break my bones.


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