I arrived at Wyomissing Library ready to compete in the 2007 Area 13 International Speech contest. I was beginning to feel a little like a speaking veteran, although I realized there must be a lot more to learn. Looking back, I realize I had no clue.
I prepared for the 2007 Area 13 International Speech Contest for five months. I took the speech I used for my tenth project in the Competent Communicator manual added a few more thoughts than squeezed it down to fit in the five to seven minutes allowed under contest rules. I practiced until I felt very comfortable. I did all of that even before the Reading Toastmasters contest. As it turned out, there was no Reading Toastmasters contest, but I gave my speech anyway and received very high marks for my efforts.
I was fully prepared for the contest, but I was not prepared for who I would be competing against. There would be a total of four participants. There was me – a moderately experienced Toastmaster, two relatively new Toastmasters and one very experienced Toastmaster, which I’ll call Lillie. “How experienced?,” you may ask. Well, she had been a Toastmaster for twenty-five years, her husband was a Toastmaster for thirty years, she and her husband ran a public speaking consulting business together and they were both Past District Governors.
I had to assume I would not walk out of this one unscathed. I personally did not see how I could win. It was your classic David verses Goliath scenario. However, instead of calling it a day, I decided that I wanted to walk out of the library at the end of the competition being able to say to myself, “I did my absolute best,” and I resolved to do just that. I would pure my entire heart out on the stage that day. I would speak deliberately and think a line ahead of where I was in the speech. I would hear the speech before it came out of my mouth.
The contest was about to begin and I did my best to relax. The more I thought about the situation, the more I realized this was my own personal World Championship of Public Speaking and I fully intended to win.