Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Learning I did, after losing the Area G4 Humorous Speech Contest last Saturday 10/11 in Irvine, California. The contest is part of the Annual Humorous Speech Contest with Toastmasters International, and I was up against contestant from 3 other clubs. I did not completely lose (took runner up), but nobody remember who came second place. lionnel-at-contest-with-trophy

All we remember most of the time is who came first place, and even first place is soon forgotten, if he or she does not become the ultimate winner at the Toastmasters District or International level of the competition. Buzz Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the moon. You probably have never heard of him. Who is Lance Armstrong? … That’s right, the first human being to step on the planet moon. Need I say more?

There are three key lessons I took away from the speech contest experience:

  • Never Over-prepare For a Speech

I was very uncomfortable in the time leading to the speech because I am not know to have a lot of humor when I speak. Therefore, I exercised a lot of restrain in order for me not to prepare too much for the performance.

My friend and public speaking coach Quinn was more excited about me going there to win than I was. I knew my main stories, my punch lines, and my delivery turned out way better than ever before in front of other audiences. Next time you have an “important” speech to deliver, don’t over-prepare. Practice a few times in front of a live audience where the stakes are lower, that should be enough.

  • Have Familiar Faces in The Audience

Even though I have met and interacted with many people in my District, the group of about 40 people I was speaking in front of had only about 5 to 7 familiar faces. Two of them had already heard my speech. Having them in the audience provided me with a good emotional support. Yes, even champions need emotional support.

Whenever you have to speak to an unfamiliar group of people, arrange for at least one familiar face to be in the audience. That really helps.

  • When in Doubt Go With Your Guts

Because I was speaking at the contest as a representative of my club OC Toasters, I received a ton of feedback and suggestion for improvement. It felt overwhelming and I did not know what to leave and what to take out. It is difficult to incorporate everybody’s opinion about a speech to improve it.

When you don’t know what to leave out and what to take from feedback you receive, take nothing and go with your original message. That way regardless of how things turn out, you can be proud you followed your guts.