It seemed like only yesterday that I was preparing for a speech contest, when in fact it had been nearly six months since the last one. But then in August this year I received an email from Enna asking if I would compete in the Humorous speech contest. This is a contest that for a number of reasons I had never competed in before. This is the contest where by very definition you have to be humorous, which if any of you had seen the Facebook post by my sister, I am not renowned, at least in my family, for being particularly funny. But as is often said at Kings Speakers, you can only grow when you are outside your comfort zone. So I thought, “what the heck” what’s the worst that can happen and agreed to compete.
I began as I always do with a lot of thinking time about what themes I want to talk about and then see if I can come up with some personal examples. I had always thought that the meeting of my wife for the first time was fairly humorous and so that was always going to be the ending. I had previously done a speech about meeting my wife (it was my wedding speech!) and I did not want to copy that, so I thought up some other failed attempts at falling in love which I could adapt at being fairly funny. It did occur to me when preparing for this speech that when I was going through those experiences they did not seem funny at all, in fact they were kind of heart-breaking, but as the old adage goes “time is a great healer” and “you will laugh at this one day.” Thankfully, people did!
Once the speech was drafted, I practised the speech in front of an audience, and it went OK, but there was something missing. I then spent a week or so re drafting the speech, taking out the parts that did not seem to work and then adding some new material. I was then ready to compete in the Club contest. I felt nervous on the day but once I was speaking I was happy and fairly confident that I had done a good job. The competition was strong and the speakers at club level were really good. Anyone of the other competitors who had got through would have had a real chance of winning at Area level. I was lucky enough to win through to Area level which then meant that I had to do the speech once more.
I felt that there was still something missing in the speech, so I thought – what can I do to improve this speech. I came up with something that I had never done before – I added a bit of singing to the speech. I can’t sing, I have never sung in public before – what was I thinking? All of these thoughts were going through my head when I started the speech and this lead me to giving what I considered to be quite a nervy performance – in fact I forgot some of the lines which did not help. But again, whether it was the singing or whether the judges were engaged with the speech, I managed to win through to the Division B contest.
The Division B contest was held in a hotel in Euston, it was unfortunate that it rained heavily on the day of the contest, as the room that the contest took place in had a glass roof, which meant that it was difficult to hear some of the competitors. I must say that on the day itself I was as calm and relaxed as I had ever been in a speech contest. This may have been because I had competed at this level before, but I think it was mainly to do with all the support that I received on the day. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to receive so many messages from Kings Speakers before the speech and to see Anjum, Vicky and Brian in the audience was amazing. Whilst I did not place at the contest, which was obviously disappointing, I can honestly say that I did the best that I could, once again there is no better feeling in the world making a room full of people (I think there were over a 100 people in audience) laugh.
It was a very good experience and one that I will try to replicate again next year – may be with less singing!!
Thank you all once again for your support.