The other day I dashed from work to my Area’s International Speech and Evaluation Contest. I was there for three reasons: 1) To support my club member that had advanced to the Area level, 2) support the Area contest as a whole, and 3) be the test speaker.
I knew I could worm my way into the Area level contest because the Area Governor this year is also a member of my club; it was super easy to approach him and volunteer. He graciously accepted and I was pumped I would get to speak! (What a change from only a few years ago).
The day of the contest, a member called me up and asked if I was in the area and would give her a ride there. This was a lady that had stayed late at work just so she could attend: what a trooper! I got us there in good time and we set about making ourselves useful. International Speech Contest first, Evaluation Contest second.
As the test speaker I was given free rein to do whatever I chose, but was advised not to give a recent speech to avoid any bias to any of my fellow club members that would partake in the Evaluation Contest (good point). After a bit of thought, I decided it was the perfect time to revise an old speech and pay a second homage to The Hat.
For any of you who have seen my winning Humorist Speech, you will know at the end I don a toque. It is one of my punch points, but in the beginning the toque was not meant to be a joke (though I’m not complaining as to how it turned out). I first wrote in the toque (because that was what I was actually wearing when that story happened, but also) to pay tribute to the one speech that helped me discover my comedic side.
When I was making my way through the Competent Communication manual, I came across the Get Comfortable with Visual Aids speech (I believe it is #8). I knew the purpose of this speech was for the individual to practice using PowerPoint, or whatever visual aids they would ultimately need in a presentation. A noble purpose, and one I don’t wish to undermine in any way. I had seen many fellow members deliver great speeches with the aid of PowerPoint, etc.
However, I wanted to do something different.
Staring around my room one night, the idea hit me like lightning. I would base my speech on a comment made by a colleague about my toque, and use myself as the visual aid. This involved a couple of costume changes, ending off with me wearing my toque, my arms covered in (fake) tattoos. It was probably one of my most outlandish ideas for a speech, but by the time I did my big reveal I had my audience in fits of laughter. Many people told me later this was the first time they realized I could be very funny. To this day, members (who have seen that speech) still remember the story about The Hat. That was probably the speech where I stepped back and thought “I guess I can be that funny.”
It is certainly refreshing to revise and redo an old speech: you get a strong sense of how much you have improved since. I definitely got that sense as I performed the revised version at the Area contest. I felt more confident, I felt more comfortable, and I had a ton of fun leading up to the “big reveal.”
It is a funny thing, life. I based a speech on a comment a co-worker made, and that speech got me rethinking my humorous talents, which ultimately led me to the District stage and beyond. Who could have guessed?