I’m fairly confident nobody came to the Division Contest to hear me speak as Sergent-At-Arms. I am also fairly confident the vast majority in the audience came here to listen to the speakers and evaluators go head-to-head that evening.
I have infinite respect for all the contestants of the evaluation contest that evening.It was certainly a treat to see several evaluators all evaluating our test speaker and see the points of praise and improvement; sometimes one contestant’s praise was another person’s point of improvement. I had no idea how all contestants were so organized in their thoughts, their techniques of evaluations and even managing to fit in humour along the way. It was like they had rehearsed their evaluations a thousand times over! It is something I will definitely need to work on in the future.
The International Speech contest was another ballgame altogether. That evening, it was clear why I was sitting in the audience (enjoying the speeches) rather than being a contestant.
By a pure stroke of luck, I ended up sitting beside Jamie MacDonald himself, whom had been to the World Championships not once but twice (I think). I could feel his tension and anticipation, not quite the relaxed individual whom I had known all these years. I wanted to pat him on the shoulder. I wanted to give him a pep talk, much like what he did for me at the Humorous District Contest. But what do you say, really, to an individual that has placed in the top ten speakers in the world? So I sat, silent, hoping Jamie could read minds and form words from my jumbled thoughts.
From the evening’s speeches, these are all the points every great speech should strive for:
Humour. This goes without saying, really. Humour is a great tool to have the audience sit up and take notice, and let’s not forget about all the benefits of laughter in our daily lives.
Message. Every single speech had a message of some sort. Whether it was a message for us to change our perspective, to hold onto what is dear, to realize some things in life are more important than others and we can always go out and buy a new bottle of shampoo, the speech has to have a message. A message important to us, and one we wish to send to the rest of the audience.
Story/Connection: This is closely in tune with the point above. Every speech that night circled around a story or a theme of stories. They were stories that resonated with them and stories they were able to bring back to life and relive with the entire audience.
In the end, we needn’t have been worried, and I was very thankful I was not a judge; I have no clue how they were able to make the decisions for first, second, and third place.