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.
You joined Toastmasters because you want to GROW. There is nothing that will make you grow faster than competing. (Except leadership! And it’s not either/or until you lead beyond the Club Level.) Contests create a container with deadlines that force you to prepare. By repeating the same material, polishing and deepening it, you advance your craft of both writing and delivering speeches. You learn to listen, receive, and apply feedback. You learn to ask for help and to receive it gratefully.
By embracing the path of competing in speech contests, I have gained so many things. Yes, I’ve gone through discouragement, exhaustion, sleeplessness, fear, disappointment, and failure. I have, on the same path, grown so very much.
What’s to be gained?
Self-confidence. When I started this, I made people’s eyes glaze over when I spoke. Now I have confidence in my ability to write and deliver a speech that moves, entertains, and inspires. That’s a lot of change!
Self-knowledge. This is one of the mysterious miracles of speech writing and rewriting (and rewriting, and rewriting). It leads us through our own onion layers. Layer by layer, we discover deeper truths about who we are, and what we have to share.
Visibility. Competing in contests has made people know and recognize me at levels far beyond my club. Through my speeches, they feel connected to me. It’s the “know, like and trust” factor in 5 to 7 minutes.
What’s changed for me with being visible?
- I get many more invitations to participate in things (instead of chasing the opportunities, they come to me.)
- When I am doing a project: chairing a contest, or hosting a special event, I can ask high-level people to come help me, and they say yes! If you’ve been a VPE chasing special guests and getting no response. Imagine the wonder of asking once, hearing back right away, and knowing you’ve got a golden event created!
You’ve heard the caution not to take the contestant path because you want to win? You can desire a win—that’s normal! But this motivation leaves you with a binary result–only one wins, the rest lose. If you take the path because you want to grow in confidence, self-knowledge, and visibility—win or lose, you always win!
The only thing left is for you to contact your VPE and sign up as a contestant for this coming contest season!
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’.