It has been a little more than two months since my last post. During that period my free time was focused almost exclusively on preparing for the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking that was held in Cincinnati, Ohio from 21-24 August 2013. I wrote about qualifying for the World Championship in this post.
The experience was fantastic. The conference, the attendance for which I would put at around 2,000, was well organized. The Duke Energy Convention Center was a good choice for a location. If you are interested, you can see some photos on my Facebook page or the Facebook page of the International Convention itself.
Preparing for the competition was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I had to go to Cincinnati with two speeches: one for the Semi-Finals; and one for the Finals (in the event that I won my Semi-Final). Many, many hours were spent every week drafting, editing and rehearsing the speeches. I tested the speeches before audiences in Switzerland, Germany and, the week before the convention, Ontario and New York State.
So many people provided help and encouragement along the way. Many of them are recognized here. I wish to acknowledge the feedback that I received on my texts from past World Champions Vikas Jhingran, Mark Hunter and, especially, Jock Elliot. I would also like to that past World Champion, Mark Brown, for taking the time in Cincinnati to give me feedback on the delivery of my Semi-Final speech.
Unfortunately, I did not make it past the Semi-Final and so did not get to compete in the Final. Was I disappointed? Of course! After all the work I put in, it would have been strange not to be disappointed. But — and it is a big “but” — the amount of disappointment I felt was much less than the feelings of satisfaction at having given the speech I wanted to give, gratitude for all the words of appreciation from the people in my audience, and delight at having met so many terrific people from around the world.
As I have written previously, judging a speech contest is a highly subjective matter. A small group of people in a room of hundreds decides the outcome. Choose different people to judge and you will likely get a different result. That’s why you have to focus on your message and the audience, and let the rest take care of itself.
In addition to the contest, there were some excellent workshops on offer and wonderful social events, concluding with the Gala Dinner and Dance on the final night. My wife, Julie and I even managed to take in a Cincinnati Reds baseball game at the Great American Ballpark.
The experience was incredibly rewarding and I will definitely throw my hat in the ring again (though I might take a break next year, given my schedule). I encourage those of you who are members of Toastmasters but who have not entered a contest to do so. There are four different ones from which to choose and each offers its own challenges and learning opportunities.
For now, however, it’s time for me to get back to my regular blogging schedule, so look for more post here soon. I will leave you with a short video of highlights from the Finals, with congratulations to the winner, Presiyan Vasilev. Presiyan introduced himself to me when we gathered with the 86 other Semi-Finalists for our briefing. He is a very warm fellow from Bulgaria who has lived in Chicago for several years. His speech in the Final was excellent.