Our Club is hosting the Fall 2016 Speech Contest on August 16, 2016. There are two contests, one focusing on Table Topics and the other one for Humorous Speeches.
While you all are in the process of deciding whether to participate or not, I would like to share some thoughts on the advantages of competing in a club contest. My sincere hope is that this post will help in looking at the contest from a different perspective and arriving at a decision.
Competitions allow one to challenge him/herself to the maximum: Competitions at any level tend to push an individual to a completely different level as far as preparation, quality of writing and quality of delivery are concerned. Each participants will be giving everything they have to win the contest. Bigger the drive to win, better the reward(s) reaped by the contestant. When I have participated in a competition before, I clearly remember that I took really long time to finalize the topic. I wanted to make sure that the content is right to equip me to give the best shot. My writing went through many revisions and fine tuning. I ended up in practicing more to gain the confidence to stand in front of the crowd and deliver with as minimum mistakes as possible. All I was trying was to make sure that I give the level best from my side without worrying about the results.
Competitions provide a bigger platform: Competitions give a bigger platform for an individual to challenge him/herself. Even at club levels, the competitions are attended by Dignitaries from the District, contest judges from other clubs, other club members etc. Their presence will force each participants to go beyond their comfort level of delivering at the club level in front of a crowd that he or she knows well. Once the winner goes to the Area level and subsequently to the Division and District levels, the platform gets bigger and bigger, the challenge gets tougher and tougher.
Competitions provide bigger learning opportunities: Learning opportunities provided by contests are beyond imagination. Typically during a competition, we can witness the best from every participants. The contestant gets opportunities to closely observe/listen to what each person does differently and can pick up various techniques to master the art of public speaking. When contestants are competing against the best, they are bound to learn from every possible opportunities presented to them and help them to perform at their best. Even when the contestant does not make it to the higher level of contests, the mere experience of participating in the contests will elevate the standards in a very short span of time.
Competitions can expand your network: Networking is another indirect advantage a competition offers to the contestants. The contestants get to meet various dignitaries at the district level, other club members, toastmasters that are committed, influential and inspirational. There is a high possibility that the contestants themselves become an inspiration to others in the whole process. Every contestant will be able to make new contacts, friends and also find mentors who are ready to help them in becoming a better speaker/leader.
In general, participating in a contest will push a contestant to challenge themselves and push the boundaries in a way normally not possible within the closed walls of a local club. After all, our club motto is "If it does not challenge U, it will not change U!" Good luck !