Monday night I found myself attending the local Division L International Speech and Evaluation Contest after receiving an invitation from a friend. This was the first non-home Division contest I attended, and I was quite happy to see a number of familiar faces.
One of those familiar faces was a Toastmaster by the name of Chris Archer. We had never been formally introduced (I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t know my name) but I had seen his speech on Saturday when he presented his speech at the famous Just Pros Dragon’s Den. Both versions of the same speech were almost the same, word for word: a great speech then and a great one now.
Yet, something was different.
I couldn’t explain why something felt a bit different. After Chris was announced as the Division L Champ (a worthy win), after many guests congratulated on his win, he quietly told the Division Governor the title of his speech was actually “Please Don’t” rather than “Please Stop” (as had been written on the Agenda) and would appreciate it if the correct title was passed along to the District level.
It clicked. THAT was why his speech had felt different.
From that one simple sentence Chris earned an enormous amount of respect in my books for two simple reasons. First, he did not make a big deal about it. Mistakes can/do happen often in contests, and his mistake was not the only typo on the agenda. Even in my own Division contest, the agenda switched the names around so my name was listed (erroneously) under the Table Topics Contest and the gentleman that was supposed to be in the Table Topics contest had his name listed underneath the Humorous Contest. That night I ended up bulldozing through the crowds to find the Contest Chair so he would know of the mistake. ASAP.
Secondly, Chris adapted the speech to suit the error in title. Thinking back, whenever Chris mentioned his title “Please Don’t”, he changed those words in his speech to say “Please Stop.” I’m fairly sure nobody knew the difference, and I only realized the difference because I was within earshot when the conversation was had.
That night I definitely thought Chris handled himself like a Champion. He didn’t make a big ruckus over the unfortunate mistake; and he even managed to adapt his prepared speech (on the fly no doubt) to the changed title, rather than trying to power through the speech as is.
That, ladies and gentleman, are some traits I think are in a Champion.