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St. Helens woman vies to take public speaking onto the world stage

Ronda Holdridge competes for 'World Champion of Public Speaking' title
by: Submitted photo, Ronda Holdridge

Ronda Holdridge, 48, is no stranger to the world of competitive public speaking - yes, there is such a thing, and participation amongst its initiates is widespread and strong.

Last year, Holdridge came within an inflection or two of moving forward on her quest to obtain the Toastmasters International title of 'World Champion of Public Speaking' when she was runner-up in the district meet held at the Benson Hotel in Portland.

'My nerves were just going crazy last year going into it,' Holdridge recalls. Once the spotlight hit her and the lights dimmed, however, her training and years of practice took over.

'Amazingly, I was calm.'

Now Holdridge, a marketing and builder services representative for Ticor Title in St. Helens, is at the brink again. She took first place in the local Columbia Toastmasters competition and first at the area contest held in Longview, Wash., on March 25. Last month, she took top honors at the regional contest in Vancouver, Wash.

This Saturday, May 5, she goes up against the best in District 7, an area that covers Oregon, Southwest Washington and parts of Northern California, at the Oregon Convention Center.

The victor advances to the coveted international competition in Orlando, Fla. But, as Holdridge explains, it won't be easy. 'You'd better be on your game,' she says.

Her speech this year will focus on life's preciousness, a topic she arrived at after recalling a car crash she and her young daughter had survived more than two decades earlier while she was pregnant with her second child. 'We were very, very lucky. It could have turned out so differently,' she says.

Public speaking, in addition to allowing her the opportunity to challenge herself and confront some of her fears, also serves as a pathway for self-exploration, she explains.

'It's made me a more well-rounded person,' she says.