Worldwide speaking contest features two Mississauga women vying for top spot

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Published November 10, 2023 at 12:15 pm

2023 Inspirational Speaker Slam contest, two Mississauga residents competing
The Inspirational Speaker Slam event finals take place Nov. 18 in Toronto. (Photo: Unsplash)

A couple of Mississauga residents will attempt to talk their way to a prestigious international title in Toronto next week.

Stacey Lynnes, a lawyer and inspirational speaker, and Lauren Pires, a PR/media specialist for a non-profit arts organization who’s also quick to describe herself as an invisible disability ambassador, are among 14 people from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe who’ll fight it out — verbally — to be named Speaker Slam’s Inspirational Speaker of the Year for 2023.

As the competitive season’s final event, the annual Grand Slam Inspirational Speaking Final is the culmination of North America’s largest inspirational speaking competition, known simply as Speaker Slam, which is based in Toronto.

The grand finale takes place on the night of Nov. 18 at Glenn Gould Studio.

The final 14 competitors, who organizers say will tell their “unique life stories of overcoming adversity,” have advanced to the championship round by winning Speaker Slam competitions earlier this year.

They’ll be vying for a first-place prize package valued at up to $50,000.

Lauren Pires. (Photo: Speaker Slam)

In addition to the pair of Mississauga contestants, other finalists are from across Ontario, Quebec, Florida, Washington, D.C. and Estonia. It’s a varied group, organizers note, that includes lawyers, coaches, entrepreneurs, musicians and more.

“It is a grand showcase of exceptional storytelling and inspirational speaking. It’s where the best speakers from previous competitions come together to compete and celebrate the art of public speaking,” Speaker Slam organizers said in a news release issued Friday. “It brings together a culmination of talent, inspiration and community, making it a highlight in the world of motivational and transformative speaking.”

Organizers add that the finalists’ stories embody the theme of joy and showcase triumph, resilience and the power of the human spirit.

In sharing her thoughts via Speaker Slam’s event website, Lynnes describes herself as “someone who is passionate about sharing my experiences in life with the hope that what I have learned along the way will inspire others to step into their power and live their lives to the fullest.”

Stacey Lynnes. (Photo: Speaker Slam)

Pires, meanwhile, who was born with a rare neuromuscular disorder due to which she has only about 33 per cent of the physical strength of the average person, says she’s known for her enthusiasm.

She’s the first Canadian to receive the “But You LOOK Good” Inspiration Award from the U.S.-based Invisible Disabilities Association.

An invisible disability, according to the IDA, is a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses or activities.

The other 12 finalists are:

  • Chris Ruden — Florida
  • Karen Agro — Waterdown, Ontario
  • Claudia Chan — North York
  • Lydia Knorr — Toronto
  • Samantha Plavins — Thunder Bay
  • Lindsy Matthews  — Aurora, Ontario
  • Adrian Leckie — Scarborough
  • Martin Lespérance — Quebec
  • Anu Tähemaa — Tallinn, Estonia
  • Jay Kalryzian — Fonthill, Ontario
  • Lasaunia Thompson — Washington, D.C.
  • Roberto Paez — Ottawa
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