By day, Terry Begue is a painter. In his spare time, he is an excellent speaker. Through Toastmasters, an international organization that helps people improve their speaking skills, the Hartville resident is now one of 100 people to qualify for World Championship of Public Speaking.
Begue’s entry into Toastmaster’s is an interesting story.
"I was writing a book on house painting," said Begue, who is married to Lisa, his Waterloo High School sweetheart. The couple have two children, Andrew, an attorney; and Whitney, a Lake High School teacher. "I worked on the book in the off season. A woman in Las Vegas was editing my book. She said she would only edit the book if I joined Toastmasters. Her theory was if this book is successful, he would need to know how to speak. Speaking at professional organizations helps build business. Once I found out there was a speech contest, that was it for me."
Begue, who started college but realized that the academic world was not for him, formed his painting company nearly 40 years ago. While he will do some interior painting, he mostly paints the exterior of homes or aluminum siding. He described his competitive nature.
"I was an athlete in high school," said Begue, who ran track and cross country. "I actually earned an athletic scholarship. After running, I picked up on kickboxing. I rose in the ranks to fifth in the world. I had one chance at the world title in England, but never made it to No. 1. My goal is to be No. 1 in the world at Toastmasters. I promised myself I will not stop until I reach my goal."
Begue qualified for the semifinals by winning District 10 in April, which covers Youngstown, Cleveland, Akron, Sandusky, Westlake, Marion, Lima and the Pennsylvania border.
"My speech is titled "Mislabeled," said Begue, who enjoys working on landscaping projects and traveling with his family in his spare time. "Mislabeled is a humorous look at my personal struggle with labeled stupid as a child and how I overcame the challenge.
"I believe my speech connected with judges and the audience. I use gestures during my speech and made good use of the stage."
Begue said he has five to seven minutes to complete his speech. The judges are looking for originality, structure, general mannerism, content and the ability to connect to the audience. Begue is representing Hall of Fame Advanced Speakers of Canton.
The semifinals and finals will be Aug. 25 in Vancouver, B.C., a place Begue has yet to visit. His goal is to finish in the Top 10, then compete to being the overall winner of the competition. The highest the District 10 representative has placed was ninth.
"I don’t really sight see at the competitions," said Begue. "I stay in my room and practice my speech. We are not allowed to use notes. I will seek help from other past champions and visit with friends I have met over the years."
Begue has had success with Toastmasters.
"I have a podcast that is listened to extensively in Asia," said Begue. "I have a friend from Singapore. It is interesting when I am at these competitions to have people come up and say they listen to my podcasts."
Begue said the winner of the competition usually quits their day job and then goes and speaks in many countries, selling his coaching skills.
Toastmasters International has more than 35,000 speakers around the world. Stark County has many groups that meet in the morning, around lunch or in the evening and some are private groups at companies like Diebold and Timken.
"Many people join Toastmasters to prepare for a speech or presentation at work," said Begue. "A lot of people come through the organization. Everyone in the club helps each speaker. There is a light evaluation at the end of each speech."
Begue said he is available to help people design speeches. If anybody is interested in his services, he can be contacted through District 10 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org