Toastmasters: Why do you compete?

Recently I competed in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest at the Area level. After all of the speeches, the Contest Master interviewed each of the contestants and asked me, “why do you compete?”

I had to think about my answer, and it felt odd. That’s probably because I have more than one answer, and I wasn’t totally sure which one to admit to in front of an audience. For the interview (and out of respect for time), I only answered with the first reason below.

I actually have three reasons:

First, it’s fun. You see, I spent more than 6 years ineligible to compete because I was in positions where I was on the organizing side of contests. And while I had a lot of fun as a contest master and in other roles, I always wanted to be on the competition side at some point. While competing in the fall of 13 and springs of 14, 15 and now 16 I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to speak, as well as the responses I get after the contests.

Second, I learn from the experience. I make sure to record my speech, and to get feedback from at least one member of the audience. Every contest season I start a CC just for competing. I get feedback from my speeches at my clubs and at the contest. I’ve learned a lot about what reaches the audience and about storytelling by doing this.

Third, I’m always wondering, “Am I any good?” The feedback, audience reactions and of course final results all serve to help me see where I’m at as a speaker. It’s a challenge to improve, and to see if I can make it further this year than last.

Why do you compete? Tell us in the comments below!

If your looking for ideas to help you with your contest speech, click here.

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