I wrote this article for the District Newsletter and thought it would be useful for everyone out there preparing for a motivational speech or speech contest
Personally I have been at the District Contest 3 times and represented the region in the San Antonio and Washington DC Toastmasters Contests in 2002 and 2006. This year I am going to Las Vegas in August to give it another shot. I do hope my humble ideas will give your speech an added umph!
IDEA ONE: WHY take PART?
Taking part in contests requires a lot of time investment and a heart that can take rapid palpitations. It gives you an opportunity to think about what you would like to say. It provides you with a great reason to ponder about your significant moments in life. I have found that taking part in contests also evokes the hidden philosopher within all of us.
The aim of taking part in Contest I believe is to improve our speech crafting techniques. I have learnt more from the contests I did not place as Champion. So take a deep breathe and remember the core reason for committing to a Speech Contest is to IMPROVE in the different aspects of delivering a message to your audience.
Write down some of your personal goals for taking part. How much time are you willing to allocate towards the preparation? When will your first draft be out? How many times do you intend to practice?
IDEA TWO: Speech Content
The message of the speech has to be an uplifting one. The questions I normally I ask myself to guide myself in choosing the speeches are
1. What would serve as a good reminder for people to help them relook at some important aspects of living as a healthy human being? (It’s useful to refer to some motivational books and positive psychology books for ideas)
2. What are some events that have shaped my life? (I generally keep a journal about my life and so far I have collected about 12 of them. I use these journals as a source of inspiration in my preparation work)
3. What are some things my heart warms or races to? (Things that get my blood boiling or softened are things that I am concerned about. It gives me a clue as to what is important to me. I have found that speaking about things that I am passionate about is a lot easier than coming across as being “intelligent”)
IDEA THREE: Writing the Speech
I agree when Issac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants” because I have learnt from many masters from different times, places and disciplines to have developed my speech writing techniques. Here are a few of my favourite strategies.
1. Sentences must be sound “nice”. Vowels create more air and consonants give our words crispness. For example, “My father’s face blossomed in happiness” Read this sentence aloud and you will notice that many of the words can be pulled to create an almost lyrical effect. Now pretend you are singing this song like a love ballad. Here is another sentence but this time focus on the consonants, “FoCus your MinD on THe GReaT THings you haVe in your LiFe.” I purposely made certain words into CAPS format to help you emphasise them. This makes your speech saturated with liveliness.
2. Sights, Sounds and Sensations. A winning speech immerses the audience into a world you are building. Consider this sentence, “The high pitched honking from the frustrated lorry drivers mingled with the nauseating smell of hot diesel fumes. As the sweat trickled down our t-shirts from no where a speeding motorcyclist who was trying to whizz past our car and accidently hit our side view mirror with great force and crashed!” Definitely this sentence can be improved but the basic idea here is to engage your listeners’ imagination.
3. Use Poetic devices sparingly. My all time favourites are alliteration and the power of three. Do google these words to learn more.
IDEA FOUR: 100 Percent during Rehearsals
My Band instructor often reminded us that if you give less than a 100 percent during the rehersals then your actual performance will also sound like you are still rehearsing. You must prepare your body and mind for the real thing. This is one area I do like a maniac. I often rehearse at least 40 to 100 times before a contest. For those of you who have seen my contest videos, you might think that what you are watching is a about natural talent but that is far from the truth. I recommend all contestants to really concentrate during rehearsals and be willing to edit your speech if it does not seem right. On the Contest day arrive as early as possible to use the stage and get yourself absolutely familarised with the every square inch. My advise on rehearsals: REHEARSE TILL everyone things you have gone BONKERS!
IDEA FIVE: Grooming
The last idea is a simple but effective one. When you are up on stage looking professional adds to your appeal. Here are some things to consider shine your shoes, get a suit that fits well, neat hairstyle, shaven look for the guys. During the rehearsals wear everything you plan to use on the actual contest including your shoes so that you can get comfortable in them. If the contest venue has stage lighting use some powder on your face to reduce the shine . Ramesh’s biggest contest preparation secret? I wear two socks during contest to prevent my feet from getting cold. J Grooming helps in your mental preparation. Plan for your next contest adventure! GO FOR YOUR DREAMS!