The Toastmasters International Speech Contest came to an end for me last night. I placed 3rd in our District 37, Division B contest. Oddly for someone as competitive as myself, I'm extremely pleased with my placement. Everyone who spoke gave excellent speeches. So much so that as I was sitting in the audience listening to them and awaiting my turn I was thinking, "Uh-oh, uh-oh," having one of those moments where you wonder if it's possible for you to slip out of the building without anyone noticing.
I was pleased with my performance though. I held my own against some very advanced speakers. And from watching them, I know now what I need to do to go further the next time around. Use props and visual aids. Get the audience involved. State more clearly a direct tie-in to how the content of my speech affects the audience personally in their lives.
The winning speaker, Simon Whitaker, was phenomenal. He did some fancy boxing footwork and demonstrated amazing jump-roping ability in his speech and never missed a beat. I was winded just watching him and his heart had to be pounding but you'd never know it. It was an inspiring speech and he had the whole audience participate in it. I think he'll do well at the next level.
And, it's nice to be in the clear. No more practice for the next level. Now I have an inkling how the bronze medal winners at the Olympics feel. Gold is great and silver leaves you wondering what you could have changed and how close you maybe came to winning. But for those of us in third, we're just happy to be recognized for our efforts. =)
My applause and admiration for all the speech speakers AND the amazing table topic speakers. They had to speak extemporaneously on a question that would have stopped me dead in my tracks and I'm a pretty good table topics speaker. It was HARD and they all knocked it out of the park. It was inspiring to watch them speak.