Benefits of (Speech) Competition

01/16/2012- The Benefits of (Speech) Competition
Article originally published for the January 2012, Toastmasters District 62 newsletter “The Hub.”


It’s been several months since I stepped onto the stage to compete in the International Speech Contest.  As a competitive person I jumped at the chance to hone my skills against some of the best speakers on this side of the ol’ Red Cedar.   I went in seeking victory and left having gained so much more.  I think every Toastmaster should compete at least once in one of the four contests during their lifetime.  Here are three good reasons:

  1. Competition makes everyone better: including you.   It’s simple: the more competitors there are the harder people will work to be the best.  Increased participation leads to an increase in innovation and originality.  Think about it: how hard would you try if you had to beat one person versus five, ten, or twenty?
  2. You get to meet fantastic new people.  The Toastmaster universe definitely expands as a result of competition.  I can’t tell you all the wonderful people I have met through the contest.  I was pleasantly surprised how supportive Toastmasters were to all contestants.  They really wanted everyone to succeed and do their best.
  3. Makes you a more concise and precise speaker.  You have a clock, a speech, and one chance to make it all fit perfectly.  It’s a great deal of pressure but the effort put into word choice, movement, pausing for audience laughter (and tears) teaches you how precious time is.  In a meeting if you go over/under time it’s no big deal.  In competition, it could mean disqualification.

The Spring contest season is near.  Get that speech ready or work on those evaluation skills.  The entire process will improve you as a speaker and a person.  That alone is reason to enter.  Who knows?  You might even win!