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Kim (Behrens) Kaufman

Kim (Behrens) Kaufman

Alumna rises to top in global speech competition

Kim (Behrens) Kaufman has mastered what most dread: public speaking. The 2008 School of Communication graduate competed in the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking in 2016, finishing in the top 10.

Kaufman spoke in Washington, D.C., to a live audience of more than 3,000 in the finals. Her winning speech was titled “Recalculating,” and can be seen below. She used a GPS to make the point that sometimes we must rethink our destination.

The seven-minute speech was just one Kaufman had to write to advance in the competition through Toastmasters. The organization is dedicated to improving communication and leadership skills.

Kaufman joined less than two years ago through the State Farm Insurance club. She made the world stage by winning at her club level on up through a contest within Illinois.

“I’ve always enjoyed public speaking and speaking competitively. I like the rush I get from presenting to large groups of people,” said Kaufman, who was on ISU’s speech team and worked at TV-10 and WZND. A Normal resident, she is a public affairs communications specialist at State Farm Insurance and is a professional public speaker.

In D.C., Kaufman won her semi-final to advance to the world stage. She wrote and delivered a speech about diversity titled “I’m Different, So What?” The presentation focused on learning how to love one’s physical differences. For Kaufman that meant embracing her height, as she is more than 6 feet tall.

Each step of the process required persistence, planning and determination. She worked through many late nights “writing speech drafts, having great ideas, then ditching those ideas.” That was before she began memorizing and rehearsing.

“I consumed lots of coffee and gummy bears during this process,” smiled Kaufman. “I ended up being one of the top 10 best public speakers in the world. I’m so grateful for the honor.”

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