The need to compete

If you’re in Toastmasters, you probably know that the fall contest season is in full swing. If you’re not familiar, Toastmasters has two contest seasons, one in the spring and one in the fall. In our District, we hold the humorous speech and evaluation contests in the fall.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to be Contest Master for the Semi-Pro Toastmasters Club in Wichita Kansas. Both speakers in the Humorous contest were outstanding. I did learn that 10 out of 10 coffee drinkers die! I’m sure glad I don’t drink coffee. I was able to give the target (test) speech for the evaluation contest. I received 4 great evaluations, and they all had one thing in common.

My speech was on the three phases of speaking, and I described the phases as this:
1. Getting comfortable with your self
2. Getting comfortable with your message
3. Getting comfortable with your audience

I talked about how you could get through phase 1 with the Competent Communicator (CC) manual in Toastmasters. The 10 speech program is designed to help people get over their trepidation of public speaking, and help you to focus on phase 2, your message. Next, I refered to the Advanced Communicator (AC) series as a method to get familiarity with your message, and move through phase 2.

Finally, I mentioned the method to become more successful over all, which included getting more stage time. Also, continuing to work out of the CC and AC manuals can help you be more successful. I concluded by challenging the members of my club to complete just one award this year.

During the evaluations, all 4 evaluators noted that I should work on my vocal variety. Specifically, changing my volume a bit more was mentioned consistently, which tells me what I need to work on next.

On the self-evaluation front, here’s what I have:
1. I neglected to say “Talk to the Human” even once in my speech.
2. I didn’t set my locations correctly in my intro, but I recovered in the main speech (standing in a different spot for each main point).
3. I need to better handle audience interaction. I used a “which of you…”(vague to all) question instead of just saying “raise your hand if…” or “have you ever…” (more to each person)

Overall, the contest was a lot of fun, and we heard some wonderful content from our contest speakers and evaluators. It’s definitely one of the extra perks in Toastmasters. I highly recommend that you take the opportunity to go and see an Area, Division, and/or District contest this fall. You won’t be disappointed…

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