Posted by: Diane | April 1, 2013

Words That Build Up

While many people were hiding or hunting for Easter eggs on Saturday morning, I was competing at a Toastmasters International® District Level, International Speech competition. Seven other participants and I picked numbers to decide the presentation order and I became the last speaker. I wasn’t sure how I felt about being #8 speaker but since I didn’t have any say in the matter, I sat back, thoroughly enjoyed seven fabulous speeches and waited my turn.

While #7 speaker was finishing up her speech, I was pulling my tights up, rearranging my belt, popping Listerine strips into my mouth, (I wasn’t trying to combat bad breath  – I was making every effort to avoid the inevitable dry mouth syndrome of public speaking) and praying that I wouldn’t blank out or pass out while presenting my speech.  Suddenly, I felt a tap on my left shoulder, I turned around and a little scrap of paper was handed to me by a woman, whom I competed against during the Area meet a couple of weeks before.

District TM win note

They were exactly the words that I needed to “hear” before presenting my speech.  I was lovingly reminded to passionately speak from my heart and I was very grateful for these kind and encouraging words at such a pristine moment.

Soon, it was my turn and I nervously walked to the front, turned to the audience and talked for seven minutes about The Gossip Song. I gave it all I had but I was also very aware that I was competing against seven other excellent speeches. When the results were announced, I was truly surprised, delighted and honored to be in first place. I will always remember those inspiring words handed to me at the perfect time.

District TM win certificate

Whoever came up with the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” was a fool. We all know that words can hurt people severely. Hurtful words cut to the soul and my experience has taught me that they are the ones that seem to “stick” more than the uplifting words.  I remember as a young mom, I was very conscious of speaking a much higher percentage of words that built up my kids than words that tore down and yet, when I blew it and said something critical or hurtful, those were the words that my kids remembered the most. Why is that? Has that been your experience?

I enjoy learning about speechmaking and leadership and I thrive on writing and presenting speeches but the best part of Toastmasters is the atmosphere of encouragement. In a world that rips pieces off you every day, spending time with people who are committed to speaking kindly to you is nothing short of spirit-boosting. My experience is that Toastmasters is a place that welcomes all and makes everyone feel safe. Add some laughter, creativity and amazing teaching into the mix and you have the recipe for a really good way to spend an evening.

Words are powerful. There is a moment —when we make the choice to speak words that will either lift up or tear down.  It IS a choice.

When I arrived home from the competition, I was greeted with beautiful Easter lilies and my husband’s heartfelt and uplifting words in a card – “My champion…once again.” 

District TM win flowers

It sure felt good.

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of
the wise promotes health.  Proverbs 12:18 New King James Version


  1. Good for you, Diane! You did it again! Yes, the right word at the right time works wonders!

    Diane, you amaze me at your creativity and your out of the box thinking!

    • Thanks, Kathy…I agree – that the right word at the right time is the right thing to do! I remember when my mother used to tell me, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” There is definitely truth to that statement!

  2. Diane, your words are always encouraging and uplifting. I love the way your words tell a story, and for someone like myself, the words must form a picture a picture in my mind, which yours do so cleverly through your daily blog..

    Keep using your words, especially when they are constructive , and have the potential to change the heart, and cause direction change in life’s pathway.
    You bless me!

  3. Congratulations. I so enjoy your writings. It’s only fitting that you were rewarded with first prize

    • How kind of you to say that! Thanks so much!

  4. Congratulations Diane on winning this competition! I would like to hear this speech some day. I am sure that it was uplifting. xoxo ‘Mrs. B.’

    • Thanks, Mrs. B! The competition was a wonderful, uplifting experience and I look forward to the next level competition in a couple of weeks.

  5. WOW… Prov. 25:11..A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in baskets of silver. You are amazing! xo

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