Archive for January, 2011

10 Reasons to Get Excited About Contests

Posted in contests, public speaking, toastmasters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by pastajon

I had to make a decision. I could work and make money or attend my daughter’s volleyball tournament. That should be a no brainer, but I was unemployed and needed the money. We make time for what is important to us.

If you are in Toastmasters and are not excited about speech contests, reconsider.

Why did we join Toastmasters? To become better public speakers. Here are 10 reasons to get involved with speech contests:

  1. Contests force us to the next level. It is easy to get comfortable speaking in our clubs. We get to know people and feel accepted and soon thereafter we stop trying so hard to make our speeches great. We know we can give a lousy speech and people will still applaud our poor effort. We will never win a speech contest and remain comfortable; improvement and winning will cost us.
  2. We learn by competing. Sometimes we think, ‘I could never win so why even compete’. How will we ever win if we don’t try? A few of us may win our first competition, like my friend Andy Cier won the District Humorous Speech Contest his first contest. Hey! That ain’t right! It took me several tries before I even won at a club level. But that is the beauty of contests – they make us work harder and IMPROVE!
  3. We learn by judging. Judging a contest is hard! If judge well you have to pay very close attention and guard yourself from getting caught up in the content alone. The judging ballets have this great list of the nuts and bolts of what makes a great presentation. Judging forces us to pay attention to these great details and we become more aware of them. Next time you evaluate a speech in your club you will be better at it, pay more attention, and know what to look for.
  4. We learn by observing. You have different strengths than me. You have a different style of speaking than me. And I can learn from you. We can learn from observing each other.
  5. We learn by losing. My first speech contest was ten years ago. I’ve entered several speech contests since then and have lost at the club level and area level before ever winning at the District level. Losing heightens our awareness of what we did wrong, what we forgot to do, and what we can do better.
  6. We made a commitment. Becoming a Toastmaster is a commitment we often take too lightly. Being a Toastmaster is a mutually beneficial experience – we get help and we help others. We can help others by getting involved with contests.
  7. We can support our friends. It meant a lot to me when my friends from my club showed up at the Area, Division, and District level to cheer me on. Life is about relationships – as is communication and leadership. Showing up to encourage your friends shows them that you really care for them, win or lose.
  8. We make contests more exciting. Would we rather speak to five people or fifty? Some of us might prefer five, but fifty people creates a whole new atmosphere and speakers feed off of a crowd’s energy. Make the next contest more exciting for your friends by contributing to the crowd.
  9. We can enjoy some great speeches. Yes, some of the speakers will not be so good. But let’s cheer them on for trying. And yes, some speeches will be terrific, inspiring, and terribly funny.
  10. Contests will ‘raise the bar’ in your club. Once my club starting taking contests more seriously it changed the level of expectations at our meetings. Now we have two District Humorous Contest winners, a Division Humorous Contest winner, an Area International Contest winner, a Division Tall Tales winner, and a District Evaluation Contest winner in our club. People expect more at our club now. Our membership is between 40 and 60 people.

Contests are INVIGORATING!

We make time for what is important to us – like improving our public speaking skills and attending our daughter’s volleyball tournament!

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