Coaches Corner


Contests Make It Happen

CONTESTS MAKE IT HAPPEN. In Toastmasters what keeps me going and energizes me is witnessing success up close and personal. Twice a year speech contests fill my time and energy because I know how they affect me and others who participate. Some successes seem small--giving an ice breaker speech or some seem large--competing at a speech contest. When someone overcomes the fear of public speaking and hones their talent to achieve more than they ever thought possible, I rejoice. When witnessing someone deliver a message from the heart and observing the spellbound audience, I know that Toastmasters can make a difference. It’s the really spectacular memorable moments when I see someone move outside their comfort zone, build self-confidence and deliver a message to be remembered that I appreciate the value of the Toastmasters programs and am proud to be a part of what makes it possible. Toastmasters empowers people and gives them a voice.

For many Toastmasters the first opportunity to be empowered and share the story and message outside the club is at a speech contest. A perfect example is our 2010 District 26 International Speech winner, Ian Humphrey. After testing and honing his basic skills at his club, he moved out of the comfort zone and delivered his message at an area contest. His journey continued through the division and district speech contests to culminate in Palm Desert California at the Toastmasters International Convention as one of the ten finalist competing for the title Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking. It was there I witnessed overflowing

Ian at his best (or so I thought). He spoke passionately to the 1600 people in attendance. He delivered his message and held the audience spellbound for seven minutes. While he did not take home the first place trophy and title, he realized this was but one stop along the way. He returned home more confident, more focused, determined to deliver his message to those who need to hear it. He realized that the journey was actually just beginning. He knew there is life after competing at the International Convention and he was determined to deliver his message convinced someone needed to hear it.

WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS TOASTMASTERS TALK. Soon after returning from California, Ian was invited to speak to a group of educators. Then came this invitation: “Deliver a motivational message designed to peak the audience’s interest and motivate them to succeed to their potential.” On the surface not too difficult until you find out the audience will be 500 7th graders. That was the opportunity handed to Ian, and on Thursday, September 30, I was privileged to sit on the front bleacher and witness a master in action – this was Ian at his best. For 45 minutes he held the young audience spellbound as he told his personal story of rising above multiple abusive situations, foster homes, and prison. But it was more than a story as he motivated the 7th graders at Prairie Middle school to create their own success story. He challenged them to visualize their dreams while repeatedly driving home the mantras

"Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something"
and more importantly "Never give up!"

What does this all mean? YOU AND I HAVE A MESSAGE THAT SOMEONE NEEDS TO HEAR. We just need the courage to step forward and tell it. Not just in our own club but to a wider audience. Toastmasters offers the opportunity, all we all have to do is take advantage of every opportunity including speech contests.

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