It is competition season at Toastmasters International. Each member of Toastmasters is only 4 wins away from representing their country at the International Speech Contest in Vancouver in Canada.
Here are my top ten tips to be a success in the contests:
- Look at the Judging Criteria – all speech contests are judged by members of Toastmasters using a set criteria. The criteria can be found at (https://www.toastmasters.org/~/media/A26980987C5643BBAFB6F9FA367A6F65.ashx). Look at the criteria and try to get your speech to score as highly in the criteria as possible.
- Make sure the speech has an emotional impact on the audience – every story that you will ever have heard will have a beginning where the scene is set, there will be a hero (in the case of a Toastmasters speech this is best if it is you), the hero will then go through difficulties but at the end of the story, with the audience willing the hero on, will overcome those difficulties. Think of any story that you heard of a child and the same structure is used (think of Cinderella or Snow White or even a more modern classic Frozen (you can guess that I have a young daughter), they all have the same structure. Your speech should follow this structure as it will have an impact on the audience;
- Try to be funny – whilst this is not a humorous speech contest, it is amazing how the speeches that generate the most laughter are often the speeches that do well. The audience is there to be entertained. Who does not like to laugh. Try and inject humour into your speech – it will make it more memorable and fun to give. There is no greater feeling than standing on stage and making people laugh.
- Concentrate on body language – not only do you receive 10 marks for body language – good use of the stage and body language will do two things, firstly it will relax you by moving around you will not be tense and will give the appearance of being confident. It will also make the audience more engaged in the speech. The body language should be natural and not forced. This will need practice.
- Practice. Practice Practice - This is your moment and you do not want to leave anything to chance. Try and practice in front of someone who will provide you with constructive feedback. If you do not have anyone to practice in front of, practice in front of a mirror. It is also a good idea to try and video the speech when you are practicing. It is amazing how many movements and tics that you have that you do not know that you do, whether it be rocking from side to side or cupping your hands.
- Timings – the speech must be between 5 and 7 minutes. In a speech contest you do not get told that you have gone over time, You are simply disqualified. The timings are not something that you want to be worrying about. So make sure when you are practicing you are also timing yourself.
- Visualise – you can only practice so much. However, I find it really helps to visualise how you are going to perform. Imagine it going well and the audience are engaged and enthused by the speech that you are giving. This will assist with your confidence when giving the speech;
- Get to the venue early – There can be nothing worse than rushing to the venue and being late. It is so important to get to the venue in plenty of time. Once at the venue, go up on stage and look out. Try to visualise giving the speech. This will help you relax and will make the experience much more enjoyable;
- Deep breath and go for it – This is your chance, you’ve done all your preparation, you are ready, now go for it and give it your best chance. You’ve given many speeches (at least 6). You’ve done it before. There is nothing to worry about . Just get up and give it your best shot.
- Enjoy it – The audience are there to hear you speak. You have something to say and you are there to entertain the audience. This is a great experience and one to enjoy.
Good luck everybody.