Any Given Sunday… Part I: The 2007 Area 13 International Speech Contest

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.


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