Some are born competitive, some achieve competitiveness, and others have competitiveness thrust upon them.
The Reluctant Contestant
I fell headfirst into the latter category. Having agreed to enter our club contest to make up numbers I found myself a winner, due to the only other entrant suffering a momentary lapse in concentration, which developed into a crisis of confidence. Her speech, on the perils and joys of online dating, was much better than mine, but, having written mine only a few days previously, it was fresh in my mind, and I was able to deliver it without any hiccoughs.
This was enough to propel me into the next round, the area contest which was due to take place in Inverness. In the meantime, our club President 9and area Director) thought it would be a good idea for me to practice in front of a different audience and so I accompanied him on a visit to Aberdeen club.
My speech went down relatively well
My speech went down relatively well but as a matter of course, the Aberdeen club votes for the best speech of the night, and I didn’t win.
Undaunted, I did my best to practice, hone and polish my speech ahead of the area contest and turned up in Inverness safe in the knowledge that I would probably go no further. I came second on that occasion so you can imagine my surprise when it was announced that, as always, both first and second placed speakers would be entered into the Division contest. Thus it was, that I found myself in Aberdeen on 21 April 2018 in front of my largest ever Toastmaster audience, delivering, for the third time, my speech on how joining the Andrew Carnegie Library as a child had led to my life-long love of books and reading. My speech went well but the other six speakers were excellent. I was surprised and delighted to be placed third in this contest.
If you had told me a couple of years previously that I would be entering a national contest and achieving such a great result, I would have laughed out loud. Of course, it was a challenge to come up with a good speech and overcome nerves and anxiety at each stage but the feeling of achievement when I finished speaking each time and heard the applause made it all worthwhile.
Every Toastmaster audience, whether at club or national level is so supportive – they are so positive and encouraging of everyone who stands up to speak. So, if you are considering taking part in a contest, don’t be like me and wait to be pushed – just go for it. Whatever the outcome, just by taking part, you will feel like a winner!