It’s contest season in Toastmasters right now. Toastmasters clubs worldwide are holding 2 different contests, one of which – the International Speech Contest will end up with a single speaker from a Toastmasters club somewhere in the world being crowned 2009’s World Champion of Public Speaking.
On a District level only (a geographical area that can encompass a State, Country or more than one country) Toastmasters clubs will be running a second contest out of a choice of four:
- Table Topics Contest – impromptu speaking.
- Evaluation Contest – evaluating a speech.
- Humorous Speech Contest – delivering a speech that contains humor.
- Tall Tales Contest – delivering a speech that tells a tall tale.
In my District, we are running the Evaluation Contest.
I entered both of my club’s contests, not for competitive reasons but because we didn’t have too many entries – only two entrants for both the International Speech Contest and the Evaluation Contest.
Despite my intention being to fill out the numbers, on the night itself I was fired up by the fact that it was a contest and that each contestant was expected to put on a good show.
I had a lot of fun, particularly with my speech for the International Speech Contest. I really went for it! While I didn’t know what the judges scored each contestant’s speech, I felt that had I really wanted to win and had I done everything I could to learn and prepare for the contest beforehand, that I could have won it.
Even though I didn’t have a contest win, I grew from my participation in the event. It really is a whole different ball game to go from just speaking to speaking in a contest setting and wanting to meet the expectation of delivering something special.
For this reason I’d certainly recommend that if you are a member of Toastmasters or some other kind of educational organization where you are eligible to enter the contest – and usually avoid doing so, that you enter at the next available opportunity, no matter how new or how advanced a speaker you may be.
- Grow from raising your game and pushing through your comfort zones to new levels
- Demonstrate to your fellow members what they can become – especially if you are one of the newer members or least experienced. Inspiring people is a great way to help people challenge themselves to grow.
- Improve your confidence. You entered the contest, you put yourself in a position where you will be judged, and you got through it.
All the above make you a winner, regardless of whether you are voted the winner of the contest. Doing so also adds quality to your club/organization. So it really is a win-win situation, but especially a win for you!
So, when will be the next opportunity for you to show what you’ve got???