I placed second in tonite’s Toastmasters’ Division Evaluation contest. While I won the Area contest, I joke that I finished second to last (only two competitors). Everyone in tonite’s competition had won twice already, and everyone was good. After the contest, I was approached by several folks who seemed unsure of how to approach me about ‘losing’. One mentioned that he wanted to see the scorecard, implying I had done well, and been right in the thick of the trophy hunt. I honestly don’t want to see the scorecard, and for lots of reasons, am quite OK to finish second.I got what I came for. I’ve had to learn and study how to give three minute evaluations that matter. I’m used to droning on for as long as it takes (which is why I’ll never charge by the hour!) and working with folks to make them better. A 2-3 minute evaluation rarely results in someone getting better. It’s really an impromptu, short, critical, third-person speech. And that’s a skill that anyone can practice and everyone needs. So while the rest of my club (I won the club unopposed) chose not to ‘compete’, I got a chance to:
- listen to bunches of enjoyable speeches with a critical ear
- evaluate several speeches with the purpose to craft a message in five minutes or less
- hear what others had to say about speeches that I had already critiqued, providing an invaluable comparison for my own notes
- talk with a bunch of folks about what works for them in an evaluation
- speak in some miserable venues (speaker-wise) and find out how to overcome such limitations
I don’t know why any Toastmaster wouldn’t compete. It’s a great opportunity.And there’s a part of me that’s miffed that I finished second. I am capable of better and possess the ability to produce first-rate, winning evaluations. I didn’t have my best outing tonite. I closed weak, failed to accentuate the positive as much as I should have, and modeled at least two broken mechanics that I complained to the speaker about. But since a panel of 5 folks judged me as not exemplary, that means I have room to improve, and I intend to set out and do just that. I commented to the person sitting beside me tonite that one of the things I love about public speaking is we never get it all right. There are always ways to improve. It’s a challenge, an opportunity, and great fun to chase first prize. And getting better is the best prize of all.
What are you doing to improve your communication?