3 Top No BS Tips before your contest.
Need no BS advice? I got you. Being a contestant is nerve-wrecking and what’s worse is there is not much information out there to guide you through the Contest. Well, a lot of the advice you get is pure BS. Yes pure Bread and Sugar, and we all know how carbs and sugar are not good for you!
My dream has always been to be a great speaker. I used to line up pieces of paper on my coaches’ porch to make an outline for a stage while she and her 9-year-old niece took turns being evaluators. It was serious business!
The first piece of non-sugared advice I can give you is, get a Coach/Mentor. A coach is there to guide you and give you objective feedback regarding your speech. Find an individual within your club or another club who can mentor you and become your accountability partner. Your coach has to be a seasoned toastmaster, with experience and knowledge of how contests are run.
Deciding to work with a Coach was one of the best decisions I ever made. I quickly realised my strengths and weaknesses as a speaker and worked on them. A coach shares your dream with you, their investment in you encourages you to work hard to make yourself and them proud. Although I no longer contest today, I not only have a great mentor, I have a friend. My toastmaster’s Coach/Mentor became one of my good friends a source of inspiration and an ear when I needed career and life advice.
Secondly, don’t buy the HYPE.
One of the most dreadful moments whilst contesting is walking in after loud applause for the previous contestant. It plays with your mind and takes a bit of magic from you. You start thinking “How can I possibly top that?” I’m sure the speaker before you was amazing, but if you focus on that then you will risk throwing yourself off. Stay in your magical lane, stick to the plan you went over with your coach.
Your mindset is your most powerful tool, if you’re easily rattled then I suggest you sit outside the contest room till your turn comes. I have seen contestants walk to the stage already looking defeated and discouraged. How you feel when you walk up to the stage is easily transferred to your audience. When you feel confident and comfortable, your audience feels that too and becomes at ease.
Lastly, it’s no secret that you have to be Well Prepared.
I learnt early in my speaking career that great speakers are always well prepared. Even when it doesn’t seem that way, they prepare so well to not look prepared. We started brainstorming for my speech content and direction the year before. 4 months before contests began, we were running trials and rehearsals.
By being well prepared, I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. My performance at last year’s contest still feels surreal. It was one of the finest moments in my career as a speaker, the humbling thunderous applaud and loud cheers made all the hard work worth it. I stood there a few minutes longer and knew in my heart that I had achieved a new level of growth. Being well-prepared changes your life, it makes you realise your potential as a leader and appreciative of quality standards in everything you do. I can honestly say that I am grateful of this experience because it has made me the always well prepared leader that I am today.
Randburg Toastmasters Club