Beginning in January, Toastmasters Clubs around the world will begin holding their club contests. If you’re in Toastmasters, and serious about improving your communication skills, I highly recommend you sign up to compete.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece about why I joined Toastmasters. It’s generally been my experience that Toastmasters talk too much too soon about our contests. Doing so is a great way to confuse new members who really just need the opportunity to get up in front of a room and speak. We do it, though, because experienced Toastmasters know that one of the fastest ways to grow is to compete.
I have a mantra that I repeat about Toastmasters Contests and I will share it here because I truly believe every word of it.
Anyone CAN Compete and Everyone SHOULD.
My reasons are as follows:
Competition Forces Clarity of Message
The most important skill as it relates to public speaking is being able to clearly identify and articulate a message. Competing in a contest will force you to get really clear about what it is you want to your audience to think, feel and do as a result of hearing you speak. Learning to get clear on a message will help you in every presentation you give every time you have to present.
Competition Conquers Fear
Even people who aren’t afraid of public speaking are afraid of contests. Not only we do have to give a speech in front of people, the audiences are bigger and there’s a greater chance that we can fail. This fear is why we should compete. Courage, after all, isn’t absence of fear, it’s feeling the fear and acting anyway. Competing in the contest will help you crush your fear.
Competition Forces Preparation
Toastmasters contests are timed. One second under or one second over and the speaker is disqualified. This makes preparation paramount to success. Competing in the International Speech Contest gives a Toastmaster the opportunity to polish a 5-7 minute speech until it shines. This only happens will a tremendous amount of preparation that will carry over in other presentations too.
Competition Allows For Great Stories
A side benefit from attending contests are the stories that you hear from other Toastmasters. Some are funny, some are sad but all are meaningful. Listening to the stories of other competitors is always an inspiring experience and it makes it a great reason to get involved.
The Speaker You Become
Winning is always fun. Trophies are always cool, but the most exacting part of competing in Toastmasters contests isn’t what you get, it’s who you become. The skills required to be competitive and win are skills that will set you apart in every presentation and every speech you will ever give. Learning to craft a message, own the stage and deliver it eloquently is, in my opinion, it’s own reward. Becoming a speaker good enough to win isn’t easy, but overcoming that challenge is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Before long, the sign ups will be circulating for the contest. It’s my sincere hope you will add your name, step and compete. There simply isn’t a faster way to improve, grow and succeed than to put it on the line and compete in a contest.