Back in May, I attended a Toastmasters conference in Antwerp, Belgium. During this conference, I attended the International speech contest and the evaluation contest. I saw wonderful speakers, such as John Zimmer and many others give great speeches, impress and inspire their audiences.
As I was Public Relations Officer of the District, I could not participate to the contests, but during the awards ceremony, seeing the joy of the winners, I thought to myself “in six months, I want to stand at the same place !”. And so, a couple of weeks after, I started to work on three humorous speeches for the upcoming contests. One in English, one in French and one in German. Different speeches are needed because the type of humor is different in every language. Also, as the contests happen during the same day, it is important to offer different jokes, otherwise any surprise effect or twist that creates a funny situation does not have the same impact. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun to see the audience at different levels of the contest laugh at my jokes.
I made it to the contest at District level (Continental Europe), in Budapest, Hungary, in impromptu speeches in English and in humorous contests in German and French. It was a great experience to speak in front of hundreds of people in a larger environment with a microphone. I really enjoyed it and the feedback I get from my fellow Toastmasters will help me improve my public speaking skills.
In the end, I finished second in the humorous speech contest in French and won the humorous speech contest in German. I realized what I had promised myself a couple of months before: to win a District contest. To me, these contests are everything Toastmasters is about. If you are willing to work hard and listen to the feedback given to you, then you can truly make progress in public speaking. I can only recommend this experience to anyone.
To conclude this post, I’d like to thank a couple of people who helped me on my way to the finals:
– Thanks to Mel Kelly, who’s been a wonderful sparring partner, a great winner in the English humorous speech contest and who took the time to help me improve my German speech
– Thanks to the members of the CRFM, and especially Elisa, Jean-Marc and Lucienne for their support and advice
– Thanks to all Prostmasters and especially Ineke and Christopher for their support across all contests and in Budapest.
And of course thanks to the whole Toastmasters organization, to all the people who spend an enormous amount of time organizing conferences and helping others grow as speakers and leaders.