I was fortunate to win the next step in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest at the Area level last night. As always, the competition gets better at each succesive round.
There is great value to competing at a speech contest for even speakers who focus just on their professional development. Why? Simple…you have a tremendous opportunity to truly simulate pressure.
In the business world, you are constantly giving presentations that impact your career and pay check, right? Patricia Fripp says that “life is a series of sales situations”, and she is correct. In many cases, you may have to give a timed presentation to a prospect, group of investors, or a conference room of people. Nothing prepares you better than competing.
Consider it like shooting free throws in basketball. You can practice all you want but you can never truly simulate the pressure of making two free throws when you are down by one point with one second to go in the game. In speaking, you can more closely get game pressure when you compete against a group of excellent speakers, in front of a large audience, and you are being judged. regardless of you experience, that gets your heart pumping!
If you’re not in Toastmasters, you should consider it. If you are and aren’t competing, you should do it the next time. Whether you’re trying to close a big sale or talk to your teenager about the birds and the bees (do we still do that or does TV do that for us), it is an excellent test of winning those sales situations.