Fall Contest Season started Thursday, September 25th

Do you know about Toastmasters International‘s speaking contests?  District 13‘s humorous speech and table topics contests started Thursday, September 25th.  At least it did for me and the Eriez Toastmasters club in Erie Pennsylvania.

Why do I mention this?  I had the honor and the duty to serve as the contest chair for this club’s contest.  Which happens to be a bit of a practice of sorts for me.  As I am also the contest chair for the Area 7 humorous speech and table topics contests, on October 11th at the Blasco Memorial Library in Erie.

What I am finding is that it is certainly a bit of work.  I am reminded of the importance of good project management skills.  Planning, organizing, and executing a good event.

How often have you shown up at a school dance, graduation ceremony, school board meeting, dance/music recital, science fair, or the start of the school year kickoff…  and looked around you and thought about the work that goes into preparing it?

Or did you simply take a seat and enjoy the event, not considering what it took for you to be there

 photo credit: rick

If you had been with me for the preparation, you may have looked at the roles to fill… contest chair, chief judge, tiebreaking judge, 3-5 judges, 2 timers, 2 counters, at least 3 contestants, and a sergeant at arms.  Then you may have scratched at your scalp, bit your lip, wrung  your hands, and wondered “how can 7 people be fit to fill 14 positions?”

We did manage it… finally.  I hunted up some additional help.  Kept the wife from judging the husband/contestant.  Got experienced members to guide the less experienced.  And heard one of the funniest speeches I ever heard, given by one of the newest members in the Area!  You would have laughed, and been amazed & impressed.

Many people know that Toastmasters International is a place to be a better speaker.  But new members and old members sometimes forget that Toastmasters is not a college, school, or store.  It is not a place to pay your entrance fee and take a seat or use the equipment.  It is not a place to pay to be given an education.

Toastmasters International is a CLUB!  A club where you must do your part.  Someone guides you when you act as the timer, counter, or judge.  Someone helps you when you evaluate, speak, organize, or plan.  Someone advises you as you turn to the next newest member and guide, help, and lead them to do the same.

A club cannot operate on its own.  It operates on the backs of its members, on the time of its members, and on the work of its members.  BUT, there is one catch…

You get to learn as you do all the work.  Every time you organize a meeting… every time you evaluate another speaker… every time you plan the agenda…  every time you call someone up and ask them to fill a role, so the meeting will come off…  you become better at it.

You get so you can plan a high school graduation.  You can schedule speakers and plan the order of how they will speak at a fundraising event.  You can call people up and ask them to contribute to the school bake sale.  You can be MC for your daughter’s recital.  You can do all this.  Because you have been volunteering to do and learn these things in the safe and friendly setting of your Toastmasters club.

Did you think that besides learning to speak, you would also learn to be a leader?

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