Humorous Speech Contest

October 24th, 2004 by Steve Pavlina

Last night I competed in my Toastmasters’ division humorous speech contest at the California Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. It was very competitive, and I took home second place. The first place winner was Linda Bown, who gave a great speech titled, “Oh, Clutter. My Clutter.” Her particular club, Jackpot Speakers, specializes in coaching its members to win contests.

Although first place was my goal (and a pretty ambitious one at that), I wasn’t disappointed at all to take home second place, especially given how terrific and talented the other speakers were. I know I did the absolute best I could. With the time I had available to devote to this contest and the feedback I received, I don’t think I could have possibly done any better than I did. One of my club members told me after the speech that he couldn’t suggest anything I could have improved. I’m happy to have done so well, given that I’ve only been a Toastmaster for 4.5 months now, while the average of the other speakers was about 5 years; I’m pretty sure I was the youngest speaker too. It’s pretty exciting for me to imagine where I’ll be in 5 years at this pace. These are some talents I’d never have had the opportunity to develop if I hadn’t stretched myself to join Toastmasters. I have to thank all the members of my club, Starmasters, for their tremendous help and encouragement. I’m already looking forward to the Spring speech contest.

A big congratulations to Rachel Tuller, a very talented member of my club who won first place in the evaluation contest. The evaluation contest is held in conjunction with the humorous speech contest each Fall. Evaluators compete on the basis of who gives the best verbal evaluation of a given target speech. I’ll be rooting for Rachel to win the district contest in two weeks.

Growth has long been my #1 personal value, and competing in this contest through the club, area, and division levels has been an amazing growth experience for me. Last night I was invited by Jackpot Speakers’ club President to attend their next meeting as a guest (which is actually this afternoon), so I think I’ll take him up on that and pay them a visit. One thing I love about Toastmasters is the maturity and sense of honor of the members. Even though the contest itself was very competitive, the competitors are all encouraging and supporting each other.

Right now I have a feeling of tremendous excitement about my future in speaking because I did my best and ran right up against my limits. Many people interpret this kind of event as a failure, but I see it as just the opposite. Remember that October 17th entry about modeling? Now I’ve identified one more person I can model in speaking, Linda Bown. And I’ll be seeing her in a few hours and have a chance to learn from her and her club mates. I’m something of a Borg in that respect — I love to take advantage of opportunities to assimilate the knowledge that’s in other people’s heads. And until we have personal mind-transfer devices, there’s no better way to do it than face-to-face and belly-to-belly conversations.

So if you ever find yourself running up against your limits in some area of your life, see if you can find someone who’s already pushed past that limitation in their own life. Then invite them out to lunch. Aside from the ideas you’ll learn, just from hanging out with such a person, you’ll gain a new perspective — an infectious feeling of energy and potential — that will motivate you to action. It’s like getting your batteries recharged. Of course, the opposite is also true; if you primarily associate with people who don’t push you to be your best, you’ll just get more of the same and will be deprived of experiencing a far greater level of fulfillment.

Victory is life. ;)


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