Time to Compete. ? or !

The International Speech Contest for 2013 is ramping up. Clubs are holding contests, and winners will advance to area, division, and district competition. In August the handful of finalists will take the stage, and one , only one from the thousands of speakers who began competing, will win the title of  World Champion of Public Speaking.

It’s a grand reward and a lot of work. The likelihood of not winning the title is discouraging—why do all that work if the effort won’t pay off? Maybe it won’t pay off if your standard is winning the title, but the effort really will off in hundreds of other ways.

When I was a district officer, I was privileged to meet Dilip Abayasekara, who is easily one of the finest speakers I have ever heard and who was International President of the Toastmasters organization. Though he was twice a finalist in the International Speech Contest, he never claimed the title as his own. I think he clearly used the effort to build his speaking skills, and he shared what he learned with other speakers in an essay titled Why Should You Compete in Speech Contests?

Here’s the first of the points he made. When you compete

You accelerate your growth as a speaker.

You’ve heard how a piece of coal, placed under pressure and heat over hundreds of years, produces a brilliant diamond. Speech contests do the same for speakers…but they don’t have to wait hundreds of years! The average Toastmaster is truly a ‘diamond in the rough.’ When the Toastmaster places him/her self in the heat and pressure of a speech contest, when he or she works with diligence and passion under the deadlines of speech contests to research, write, practice, get feedback, re-write, practice, and finally deliver, that ‘diamond in the rough’ loses some of its roughness and begins to sparkle in a way that would not have been possible so quickly any other way.

If you want to accelerate your growth as a communicator, then complement your manual speeches, table topics, and evaluations by entering speech contests and giving it your all.

We’ll set the date for our club contest soon. I hope lots of you are ready to take the opportunity it offers to grow as a speaker.

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