Before the division contest, I practiced my heart out. I loved this speech, because there was so much of me in it. In fact, the speech was “Me”. That’s the reason I made it through the area contest and into the Division A contest.
Despite knowing it so well, I practiced the speech ten times a day, getting to know every nuance. Getting to understand how it made me feel, but most importantly, how it made others feel. Once you get to the division contest level, the flash is not as relevant as how well you deliver the message. I needed to make the audience feel what I was feeling. That is what is important at the division contest … That and one other thing.
Contest day finally arrived, and I was excited and nervous. I knew I would do well, but once you get up to that level, strange things happen in your mind. You begin to think strange thoughts like, “Do I still know my speech? I think I forgot my speech!.” I’ve learned, since, that you never forget your speech. You may draw a blank the very first moment you’re in front of the crowd, but as soon as you utter you’re first sentence, it all comes back to you in a wave.
I went into the contest still feeling high from beating an accomplished professional speaker and speaking coach and I just knew things would go well for me today.
I drew the number one slot. My name was announced and I confidently walked up and shook the Toastmasters hand and began my speech. As I was giving the speech, I felt good. I was sharing “Me” for the benefit of everyone in the room. As I looked into the eyes of the audience, I knew I was in the process of hitting another home run. I finished the speech and went back to my seat and sat through the other speeches which where all very worthy of a division contest.
We had a break between the speech contest and the evaluation contest. During that break everyone talked to me about my speech. Everyone asked questions and gave me great complements. I was the star of the show. One gentleman who owned a rather sizable company even asked me to come to his company to give the same speech. With all of this attention and the accolades, I should have been excited and thrilled, but I wasn’t, because I knew there was something very wrong.