Last night I competed in a Toastmasters International speech contest, and am excited to share with you that I placed FIRST!!
I had taken a three-year break from competing, so it felt especially GREAT to take home the top honor at the club contest!
I will move on to compete at the area level in a few weeks. Every level gets tougher, so I’ll definitely be looking at how I can make the speech even better.
One reason I do like competing is because it helps to keep me sharp. I think anyone who competes will attest to that. You truly have to bring your SUPER A game!
Here are some tips that I follow for successfully competing that can help you with ANY speech you have to deliver:
1. Have a plan B for how to end
In case I come close to my speech time limit for some reason, I need to have a plan B for how to still wrap this speech up quickly in a cohesive, memorable way. The same strategy applies if the event host suddenly cuts your stage time short, which can definitely happen! Better to be prepared.
2. Take the timing SERIOUSLY
When doing a practice run through for a contest, timing is the first thing I’m checking for. Nothing else matters if you go over time; you WILL be disqualified no matter how good your speech is. Time is just as important for any other speaking engagements. You must respect the time you were allowed, if you hope to be invited back again.
3. Get QUALIFIED feedback
You will make yourself feel all over the place if you take everyone’s feedback for what you can do differently. New speakers sometimes fall into this trap. Your friends and family may not really know what to look for, or what to say other than “it was good.” Solicit feedback from people who speak and can give you a qualified evaluation.
4. Protect your mindset
Your state of mind is VERY important when you deliver a speech. You could truly have a great speech, but won’t perform well because of things going on internally. I don’t like to take phone calls within an hour or so of go-time. If it’s a call that stresses you out from what is being said, that feeling can stick with you for a while. I like to watch videos or listen to music that put me in a good mood or make me laugh. Find what works for you.
5. Don’t over practice
Yes, know your material in and out. No, don’t psyche yourself out by practicing up until it’s time to speak. You’ll be tempted to change SOMETHING and that’s not a good idea so close to speaking time. You need time to breathe, and gather yourself before you speak.
Let me know your best tip when delivering your speech! I would love to know.
To your speaking success!
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Peter 4:10-11
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