The queen of comebacks speaks about her state title
DENISE Applebee is the Country Women’s Association (Victoria) public speaking champion.
A commendable result after competing against speakers from across the state but at a personal level an incredibly remarkable outcome — because Denise had much bigger challenges than the other speakers to go on and win this competition.
Only 10 years ago Denise was in a car crash leaving her unconscious and with an acquired brain injury that affected her memory.
“It adds an extra challenge to speaking when you’re memory isn’t 100 per cent, so the speeches for the competition were tricky to do.”
The contest saw speakers deliver two speeches for a total of 10 minutes – first a prepared sevenminute talk followed by a threeminute impromptu address.
For the main speech Denise chose friendship and talked about how vital it can be for people’s wellbeing and the importance of getting the balance of it right.
“I talked about how it can be a good thing to have, but also how it can be poisonous when not pursued and maintained,” Denise said.
“Overall it is a positive thing for people’s mental health to have solid and lasting friendships and that was the main message I wanted to get across during the speech.”
For the impromptu section Denise talked about homelessness and its profound effect on people’s lives and society.
“I took it as a personal challenge to do the subject justice during my talk about it, I just spoke from the heart as it is such an important issue that needs to be looked at,” she said. “I still planned a speech as you do with public speaking but instead of using your more traditional methods I just had some trigger words to prompt me to what I had to say next.
“I’ve always been reasonable at public speaking so I think that helps counteract the effects the crash had on my memory ability.”
Adjusting to the effects of the injury was a hard road for Denise but she said it has worked out well for her.
“It’s certainly not been an easy task with the constant challenges the injury brought on and the work that’s been required in rewiring the brain to fill the gap the injury caused,” she said.
“But with perseverance the recovery has been good and I hope it shows others with brain injuries that it’s absolutely possible to make a good recovery from them with enough dedication and hard work.”
Echuca Murray CWA president Catherine Franklin said the award was a fantastic achievement for Denise and the group as a whole.
“The contest is statewide and to have it being fought on such a high level is a fantastic representation for women,” Catherine said.
“Having a homegrown winner in Denise; representing the Echuca Murray branch of the organisation is, great.’’
WORDS OF WISDOM: Speaking contest winner Denise Applebee (left) with CWA president Catherine Franklin.