A Rotorua Toastmaster has outshone more than 250 local contestants to win the district-level contests of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest.

Amy Davidson then advanced to the region quarterfinal round of the contest, where she secured one of 28 spots in the semifinals, to be held virtually on August 25-26.

From there, eight contestants will advance to the World Championship of Public Speaking, held on August 29.

Davidson, a member of Pioneers Toastmasters Club in Rotorua, surpassed fierce competition to win over the judges with her speech "A Step." The speech presented the idea of taking the next step towards your dream.

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When it comes to connecting with an audience, she said: "The key is to be open, honest and not take yourself too seriously."

Davidson will compete with other winners from around the world who advanced to the 2020 semifinal round after winning their club, area, division, district, and region quarterfinal speech contests. Their five to seven minute speeches were judged on content, delivery, and language.

"Toastmasters speech contests are a way to build your confidence, sharpen your skills and learn from a variety of people," Davidson said.

"I look forward to competing against the other semifinalists and hopefully advancing to the World Championship of Public Speaking."

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Davidson is community co-ordinator for Kimiora Community Trust in Rotorua. She joined Toastmasters to become a better speaker and leader at work and in the community.

The Toastmasters International Speech Contest began in 1938 and is the world's largest speech contest, involving 30,000 participants from 143 countries. It culminates with the popular World Championship of Public Speaking held annually at the organisation's International Convention. This year's World Championship of Public Speaking contest was scheduled to be held in Paris, France however, due to Covid-19, Toastmasters International will hold the event virtually on August 29.