Division Champion-part 1

March 21, 2009

Division J of District 14 of Toastmasters International held its annual international speaking contest and I was lucky enough to represent my club and the city in this contest. I had competed in several club contests and even won an area prize in the humorus speech contest before but this was my first step into competition at the division level.

The area competition had been two weeks prior. The speech I delivered was a good speech, but it was so far from “contest ready”. I asked for and received some really good feedback. Then I proceeded to pack them all away and head to Florida for spring break with my family. While we were on vacation I did spend some time looking at and working on the speech, but for the most part all I really did was rewrite exactly what I had done in the area contest.

My club was nice enough to allow me to practice my “new” contest speech the Tuesday prior to the event. At this point I had done a lot of editing and working on the project and felt I had made some great strides. I had now taken the words of encouragement, support, and criticism and crafted a much more competition ready entry.

I delivered a much better version of the original, but at this point I still really didn’t LIKE it. My club, which is an awesome group of people, provided some great feedback. Small pointers about body language and eye contact as well as the big aha moment of the day which was that the speech was still too sad. I found that I really needed to work on moving the emotions of the speech up and down and use humor as well as drama to paint a better picture. So I went back to work.

At this point youtube had started to become my friend. Because of copyright laws the world championship speeches are not available, but a little bit of digging found me several championship speakers giving their championship speeches. I also was able to borrow the 2005 WCPS and watch that entire competition as well.

I delivered the rebuilt speech to a crowd of TWO at the AthensChurch offices. It was really an honor because one of my dearest friends is our lead pastor and he had never heard me speak. The feedback I received was amazing. And at that point I really felt good about the speech and with a couple days to go until the contest I just needed to practice, practice, practice.

The night before the competition I was winding up my preparation. I had as tight a speech as I had ever crafted and felt that I achieved my goals. The only thing I forgot was to time it. At 11:45 the night before my competition I realized my speech was about 45 seconds too long. Two hours later I was happy and the speech was in time.

Now on to contest day…

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