Public speaking competition - an Idiot’s experience
30th March 2020
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I’ve been a silent performer for many years. However I realised that I needed to branch out and speak a lot, necessary in birthday parties and other events where I’m interacting with people. I also try to vary what I do in my solo theatre shows and perform a new skill each show. In the current show “Frankenstein for Kids” I speak a lot, revealing the story, explaining and joking with word play adding to the physical comedy.

When I had settled in to my current home, I began searching for something verbal to enhance what I can already perform. I looked at Improvisation classes in my area, but couldn’t easily find any. Then on a visit to Ontario, Canada my friend was giving a talk at his local club of Toastmasters International. I went along and was intrigued. It was an interesting experience and on my return I looked online for the nearest Speakers Club and found two - Eastbourne, and much closer Battle Speakers. After emailing, I went along and really enjoyed it. I liked it so much I joined and then was immediately thrust into the world of competitive speaking. I entered the “Table Topics” competition where you have to speak on a given subject that is basically improvisation in the moment. I was terrible! But I did my best in the moment. One of the reasons to join was to challenge myself and although I’m a confident performer, words have not come easily to me.

Now I’m in my second year of membership and I’m working my way through the Toastmaster system that has a series of Pathways. I chose Presentation Mastery. I’m currently starting level 3. I had to complete level 2 as I entered the International Speech Competition 2020. To cut a long story short I represented Battle Speakers Club at the area competition. I created a speech entitled “I am a Balloon” where I compare myself to a balloon and mention my struggles with weight. After the club level round I worked very hard on polishing the speech ready for the next level. I added details, more meaning and practiced, practiced and practiced.

This all happened as COVID-19 pandemic erupted around the world and the area competition was effected. It went online. On a Saturday afternoon there were about 40 people from Area 55 watching, judging, competing, and supporting each other. Four out of the five clubs competed in the area. It was the first time for many using new technology. It was strange for me as a performer in live situations to give a speech and not really get the instant feedback as only the speaker’s mic was live, everyone else was muted. There was no laughter, gasps, chuckles, giggles, clapping. In addition, I was very nervous and was concentrating on my words, pacing and timing. If you go over a certain time you are disqualified, and I certainly didn’t want that. In the competition because of the pressure and the practice I completed the speech the speediest I had ever done it! It was a great experience. And I’m pleased that its moved online and continuing.

I was delighted I did it however I had to wait for the other contestants to finish and there was another style of competition after the International Speeches. Why is it called International Speeches? Club, Area, District, National and then International level can be achieved. After a long while the results were announced. My name was called for second place – I was stunned! I achieved second place in my first ever Area speech contest. Private messages from a few people came through congratulating me which I really appreciated. I look forward to progressing through the pathway I am taking and will definitely enter another competition.

 I started with Battle Speakers to challenge and stretch myself, to add a new skill that I can use in my performing, networking and teaching. It’s given me a lot of confidence and enjoyment to meet different people out of my normal circle. If you are interested in public speaking, gaining confidence for presenting at work or perhaps you will need to do a speech at a wedding come along to see what it’s like. There are Toastmasters clubs all over the world. Here is their website to find out more https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club

Or if you are local here is the Battle Speakers website and enquire about joining us online or in person when that returns https://1240705.toastmastersclubs.org/

Thank you for reading!

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About the Author

Danny S

Member since: 12th May 2017

"I create memories, smiles and amazing photo opportunities at all kinds of events for both children & adults with balloon shows and wearable balloon art. In addition I design and fabricate bespoke balloon...

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