Contest Speeches

I had the good fortune to be able to watch 3 Toastmasters contests today, and I saw some outstanding humorous speeches. What I saw made me laugh,and it made me think about the differences in contest speeches and other presentations.

 To be honest, there is one significant similarity that any contestant needs to remember. It’s my favorite topic: Know your Audience. Any speech or presentation you give should be constructed with the final audience in mind. Because the composition changes, so should some of the content. Here’s how the audience changes, in general terms:

Club Contest
over 80% of the audience knows you
less than 20% doesn’t

Area Contest
roughly 20-50% know you (unless this is your 3rd time competing)
over 50% don’t know you
close to that 50% don’t know anything about your club
about 20% may not have ever seen a Toastmasters contest before

Division Contest
only 10-30% know you (again,unless this is your 3rd time competing)
over 70% don’t know you
close to that 50% don’t know anything about your club, your business, or where in town you’re from
about 30% may not have ever seen a Toastmasters contest before

District Contest (final stage for fall contests)
probably less than 10% know you (may 30% if this is your 3rd time competing)
over 90% don’t know you
close to that 90% don’t know anything about your club, your business, or where in Kansas/Missouri you’re from
about 30% may not have ever seen a Toastmasters contest before

Remember, the better your audience knows you. the easier it is to make a connection. Here are a couple of tips:

1. Arrive early, and meet people who are attending. If people know who you are, they’ll start rooting for your sooner.
2. Practice in the speaking area as much as possible <– this one is a specific tip from the World Champs.
3. Tie your conclusion to the opening. i.e. If I start off with an Anthony Robbins quote and then give a speech on leadership, I make sure to mention Anthony again in the conclusion.
4. Don’t leave unanswered questions in your presentation. In one contest I’ve attended this year, I remember the speaker making a point, but leaving an insignificant fact untold. During the interview, the contest master asked, “so what happened to so-and-so?” Even though that character was immaterial to the story, the minor cliffhanger was still on the minds of the audience.

 Great contests, great speakers, and great fun. ’nuff said.

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