Lindy MacLaine, DTM is a 4-time International Speech Contest District winner (three times in District 32, once in District 101, a 3-time Semifinalist, and the second runner-up in the 2020 World Championship of Public Speaking. She presents on “The Value of Speaking” and teaches a workshop called “Emote: Expanding Your Expressiveness.”  Lindy helps women entrepreneurs revamp and revitalize their message for improved on-camera engagement, connection, and conversion. She is the author of ‘The Curse of the Neverland’. 

Watch her winning WCPS speech here:


This blog has two parts to it. This is part 1, please read part 2 in the next blog.

“There’s a World Championship of Public Speaking?” My eyes lit up; a grin grew.

You have to understand … I’ve never considered myself to be especially competitive. I’m an introvert—on the shy side. Furthermore, I never played sports beyond gym class and the painful ritual of being chosen last for teams. Besides, I took many dance classes—where the only person you compete with is that awkward person in the mirror. Most contests wouldn’t interest me in the least.

But a public speaking contest? Now there was something I could be passionate about!

How do you feel about speech contests?

If you’re already sold on the value of competing in Toastmasters speech contests, I’m preaching to the choir… you can stop reading now. But if you are hesitant, let’s uncover why you feel that way, and talk about what you have to gain.

Why do you not wish to compete? Common reasons are:

  1. I don’t care for competition.
  2. I don’t like being in the limelight that much—I prefer helping behind the scenes. 
  3. I don’t have a message to share.
  4. My stories and messages aren’t original enough.
  5. I’m involved in leadership and therefore don’t qualify to be a contestant.

That last reason is the only one of the above that I’ll take as a valid reason not to jump in.

I don’t care for competition.

Is it because you don’t like to lose? You know, the fastest way to learn is to “Fail Forward,” as Darren Delacroix so aptly said in his winning 2001 World Championship speech. Failure can be the beginning of a path. 

Or is it because you don’t like to outshine others? If that’s true, imagine the growth you’ll experience learning to be as BIG and as BRIGHT as you can be–not holding yourself back! 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? …” 

—Marianne Williamson

Competing is a way to lead from the front—by example. Demonstrate courage, humility, passionate commitment, the willingness to surrender, and the willingness to not be right. The contest road requires all of that.

I don’t care for the limelight.  

I refer you back to Marianne Williamson’s quote. It takes embracing your glorious human self to write and deliver a personal speech that connects, inspires, entertains, and persuades. We must be vulnerable, authentic and unfailingly generous to succeed.

I prefer helping behind the scenes. 

Thank goodness for people like this, or contests would never happen. It takes a LOT of behind-the-scenes activity for a contest to happen. But if you’ve been playing on that side of things for a while, let someone else do it. Step up as a contestant. It’s a whole new level of personal risk. Empowering others is an enormous gift, but sometimes it’s a way to play safe. Look carefully.  Are you playing it safe?

I don’t have a message to share.

The answer to this one is simple. The message you need to share is the one you need to hear. Many competitors get caught up in trying to write a contest-winning speech.  Forget about winning the contest. Find and deliver the message that will help you the most right now in your life. 

My material is not original enough.

There is nothing new under the sun. No message is new. What is new, is you. Told through the unique lens of your life experience—your stories—your message takes on its unique value.

To be continued ……………

Read Part 2