Contest season again at Toastmasters

January 31, 2013 at 3:32 pm Leave a comment


Contest winners at the Fall District 86 Toastmasters conference in London, Ontario, 2011.

February, for those who aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, is a contest month, one of the two times in the year that Toastmasters hold speaking contests.

For the uninitiated, contests provide an opportunity for members “to gain speaking experience, as well as an opportunity for other Toastmasters to learn by observing proficient speakers.” The rule book is specific in what or what is not allowed, but this is its purpose.

In February, at least in our area and district, clubs hold their own events for  the Evaluation contest and the International Speech contests.

When I first joined the Energetics Toastmasters, I was in awe of those who spoke so well and so easily. I learned later that even they were nervous in a contest. At least it didn’t show.

In an evaluation, a person gives feedback on the speaker’s presentation, not on the speaker herself, but how she presented the speech, notable gestures, the way she uses her voice, the content of the speech and how she makes it interesting for the audience. And so in the evaluation contest, the people who compete evaluate the speech of someone who comes into the club as a target or test speaker.

I’ve been on both sides, and I remember giving the speech at different clubs and getting the feedback, as well as being an evaluator in my own club and having to give feedback on the speech. In my first contest, as an evaluator, I ran out of words to say. I only needed to give, perhaps, one more comment and it would have been fine. Having evaluated so many more speakers since then, it should be a breeze, but it isn’t. There’s something about a contest that changes the picture.

The second contest this season, at the Energetics and other clubs, is the International Speech contest—the one that continues on through area, division, district to the world championships. We’ve now had two people in our district get all the way to the international convention, which in itself is quite a feat and an honour. The International contest tends to bring out more motivational and inspiring speeches, ones that speak to a greater number of people.

Our contest chair for the Evaluation contest—our first contest this season—has been asking for judges and contestants, getting all the necessary paperwork in order. She’s well organized, even while doing this task for the first time—learning as she goes. That’s what Toastmasters and contest speeches do for us. We learn as we go, and in practising first in the club, we go on to the world outside our club doors and use what we’ve learned.

Let the contest season begin! Back to my own preparations…

On to storytelling from Toastmasters, using skills I’ve learned


Storytelling as guest author for launch of  Robin Livingstone’s book,  Eyes Wide Open,telling a story from my own collection in Once Upon a Sandbox


Introducing author and children’s storyteller, Aubrey Davis on stage at Latitudes in Kitchener, ON.


Addressing the guests at my own book launch in 2011, for Once Upon a Sandbox


Entry filed under: authors, books, community, education, entertainment, leadership, photography, public speaking, speaking, storytelling, writing family stories. Tags: , , , , .

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