The Benefits of Joining Contests

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Written by Sara Lam

The world is watching. I will be going up to present my first speech at a contest. But why am I subjecting myself to this? Why would I want the criticism? The public humiliation of falling down flat on my face so that people from not only my club but strangers too will point and laugh at me?

Fellow toastmasters and honored guests. How many of us feel this way? Let me tell you. Everyone! Some for a fleeting second, some for much longer. No matter how comfortable you are a public speaker, there is always a fleeting “oh my goodness, what if I fail?” before we jump into the pool of our
speech.

But consider this.

We all have (or hopefully will soon for the new members!) gone up, given our speech and come down with that huge sense of relief and ACCOMPLISHMENT. This feeling is priceless and cannot be bought. It is a fear we’ve taken head on and are all capable of and, I feel, something the audience has gained from listening to, too.

In front of our own members we get comfortable and it is always so much fun to laugh with all of you, but taking on a contest is taking public speaking to the next level. I learn so much from contests. It is true that during meetings we are given feedback, but at contests we gain exposure to different opinions (from different members from outside clubs). In addition to this, we are able to gauge how well we speak compared to other great speakers. Having a benchmark pushes you to look at how you can improve. It is like in a classroom where you strive to be more like the best students.
But instead of just reading the material (when you go watch contests), you are forced to write the test.

Another benefit is the new friends you get to make! Let me tell you, from personal experiences from joining contests people now know me by name. You become memorable.

Joining toastmasters was already a big first step! By joining contests, you challenge yourself to a new level. Take the next step and give yourself that second wind of ‘Wow, I did it and I’m so proud of myself”.

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