After joining a Toastmasters Club, the first speech a member presents is called the ‘Ice Breaker’. But did you know that there is another Ice Breaker in Toastmasters? It is the Speech Contest ‘Ice Breaker’ and many members have not yet ‘broken the ice’ when it comes to speech contests.
As we conclude the current round of Club, Area and Division contests and get ready for District 70 finals, it’s a good time to reflect on importance of speech contests in a Toastmaster’s journey.
Perhaps TMs feel that competitions are not for them or they’re not yet ready. However, if you’re like me, you most likely joined TM to improve your Communications (& Leadership) skills. Competing in a speech contest is not just about winning. Everyone who competes in a contest, walks off the stage a more confident and skilled speaker; standing tall, head held up high. Contests are fast track on the communication journey; and winning is just the icing on the cake.
We hold four speech contests each year; two of them, Table Topics & Evaluation, do not require any preparation. Anyone who has attended a club meeting regularly can have a go and do well. We see that at our club meetings all the time, where new SpeechCraft graduates regularly win the best TT and Evaluation awards. One of our senior members, Robyn Peck, encourages all club members to have a go at Table Topics contests, even if they don’t aspire to compete beyond club level.
At our recent Western Division International & Evaluation Speech Contest, we saw a wide spectrum of speakers from 8 areas. As well as our own champion speaker David Griffiths, there was also Cecile Sy. She was representing Parramatta ATO, a new corporate club, chartered just over a year ago. At her first international speech contest attempt, she won her club, area and reached Western Division. She did not win but delivered an excellent speech. You can imagine her delight on competing and reaching so far. After wards she told me that she learnt so much just by competing. As coach & mentor of her new club during the first year, it also gave me great pleasure to see her develop quickly into a good speaker.
At our club speech contests, few years ago we had so many contestants that it was quite a challenge for our VPE to fit them all into one contest meeting. But recently we’ve had only a handful ‘having a go’. That is a pity, considering club of our size, with over 30 active members. So with the next Humorous Speech and TT contests, let’s see more of our members stepping forward and ‘breaking the speech contest ice’.
Malkit Banwait ACG CL
Club Secretary & Area 37 Governor