Revealing what makes us unique – a dialogue with Olivia Schofield

Olivia Schofield and Wodwik
Olivia Schofield and Wodwik

She is a champion, she is our champion! Finalist of the international Public speaking competition at the Las Vegas Toastmasters convention in 2011, Olivia Schofield, who was representing our district, delivered a seminal speech ( that propelled her to “world champion finalist of public speaking”, a role that she embraced with shine, pride and gratitude.


Passing 31 000 competitors to be part of the final 9, has helped her develop a knowledge in the field of public speaking and self-awareness very few can claim. The reason why she is so widely loved and appreciated however is that by doing so, she above all became a champion of herself.

This post is the first part of a discussion we continued in the form of a podcast (release this Friday, 14th March). Olivia has also agreed to help you prepare online for your own upcoming competitions and presentations within the frame of two exclusive webinars (15 minutes each) aiming at exploring your voice potential. They will take place 3rd and 17th April breakfast time (register NOW: details for joining at the end of this post) and I bet they will put you in a good mood for the rest of the day, as well as tickle your inspirational self.

Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti: Olivia, you are one of the few adults I know who openly admits that a teddy bear changed her life. Who is Wodwik and in what respect did it change it?

Olivia Schofield: Wodwik is one of my bears. albeit, a very special one. As my mum

Olivia Schofield's bears collection
Olivia Schofield’s bears collection

always said about me and my sister, “you are both special, in different ways”. I feel the same way about my rather large family of bears. Here is a picture of them. Wodwik lived in a hospital and I met him when I went to speech therapy. I had a speech impediment as a child that effected my self esteem and made me feel bad about myself. Wodwik and I became friends and he ended up coming to live with me. That was what my finals speech was about and Wodwik, who also featured in the speech, had a non speaking role.

Bob Mohl and John Zimmer with Wodwik
Bob Mohl and John Zimmer with Wodwik

and this is Wodwik having a bear with two of his friends Bob Mohl my speech coach for the international competition and John Zimmer the reigning European Champion.

Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti: What does “public speaking champion” mean and what opportunities has it opened to you?

Olivia Schofield: That’s an interesting question. Many people think that the journey to the championship is a journey outwards, but actually it’s a journey inwards. It involves a lot of analysis and digging up the truth, then the truth needs to be shaped to gain it’s greatest impact. A speaking champion in my view is someone who craves connection, is seeking the truth and is willing to journey to their core. It has opened up many opportunities for me. Not only have I been invited to hold keynotes at District conferences from Florida to New York, Los Angeles to Australia, but I am now earning my living as a speaker and trainer. It is Toastmasters that have helped me make that transition.

Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti: This is the time for speech competitions within Toastmasters, what type of advice can you give competitors at grassroots level to get as far as they can – to Kuala Lumpur this year?

Olivia Schofield and Wodwik all over the world
Olivia Schofield and Wodwik all over the world

Olivia Schofield: At this time of year I am approached by enthusiastic Toastmasters from as far afield as India, to help with their speeches. Obviously with nearly half a million Toastmasters worldwide I can’t possibly help all those that ask. This is a great opportunity for me to give out some tips.
1. speak to connect with your audience, not to win.
2. Risk failure by taking a risk and exposing yourself.
3. Be as close to your natural self as you can be. What I mean by this is deliver the essence of you. Obviously the performance needs to be slightly bigger for this competition, but be true to who you are.
4. Speak to make a difference, speak to heal, speak to inspire.
5. You can’t do it alone, if you can’t afford a coach, ask someone you admire from Toastmasters to coach you. Get two to four of you together and coach each others speeches. I have a Sunday night mastermind group with Bob, John and Mel Kelly, we all help each other and in the end, may the best speech win. Bring on the healthy competition.


To explore the potential of your vocal variety, join Olivia’s webinars:

Please register for The voice of success I: early morning voice training with Olivia Schofield on Apr 3, 2014 8:00 AM CEST at:

And for The voice of success II: early morning voice training with Olivia Schofield on Apr 17, 2014 8:00 AM CESTat:

During these webinars, Olivia Schofield will give some tips and tricks to help you prepare for your upcoming competitions and presentations. She will tell you about working with the musicality of your voice, warming it up and articulating. These tips are specifically intended for an audience of non native speakers or for native speakers addressing an audience of non-natives. After the event, the webinars will be available on the district website ( registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

To know more about Olivia Schofield’s work and upcoming seminars:

3 thoughts on “Revealing what makes us unique – a dialogue with Olivia Schofield”

    • Hi Julie! It is a fascinating story indeed! It demonstrates that we are our best enemy at times creating obstacles instead of putting ourselves on a pedestal and creating all opportunities to achieve what we can do best… when we become friends with ourselves, all doors open.

  • Excellent advice which I immediately forwarded to our new club champion.
    I tried to sign up for webinar, but had problems and no confirmation. It only said the webinar was soon to start and I should stay connected!

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