Last night, I attended the Division A finals of the Toastmasters International Speech and Evaluation Competition (quite a mouthful – sorry!). I was the winner from our local area evaluation contest. (This means that I had to evaluate another speech – to find the strong points and areas of recommendation, then deliver a mini-speech on this to the audience. Preparation time: 5 minutes. Speech duration: about 3 minutes).
The speaker this time was a very humorous one – actually he was as close to a stand-up comedian as I ever have heard in Toastmasters. A big goofy smile on his face, impeccable timing and great use of words. Short, three or four word phrases that had the audience on the floor with laughter. The subject of his speech was how he did a marriage proposal for a bachelor farmer up the country. Quite a hoot, let me tell you.
It was actually quite a difficult speech to evaluate. “How to improve that?” I kept asking myself. Anyway, I managed some (rather weak) things to say, but the way I delivered my message was good, even if I say so myself. I felt quite calm and confident up there in front of the audience. It was a lot different to my previous evaluation contest.
I won a very nice glass trophy for my efforts and I’m chuffed. Not having been very sporty in my youth, this is something rather novel for me.
The next step would have been a trip to Portsmouth to attend the Division Finals (UK and Ireland Finals) – which is a big honour. Unfortunately I’m unable to go, as my sister is getting married in Toronto on the same day.
I got a few strange glances from people when I told them I couldn’t go. To be honest, I never expected that I would win. This was the first time I had done so well and the experience of getting so far and speaking in front of such a large group meant more to me than trying to win the competition outright. It was a decision I thought I would never have to make.
Anyway, there’s always next year. I know I can do it now, so perhaps the chance will come again. Next time I’ll make sure my calendar is cleared, though!