Four speeches into my Toastmasters experience, I was presented with the opportunity to compete at the Club level. When the VP of Education presented the contest opportunity to the club, I instinctively raised my hand and volunteered. Related: TM Speech 1, TM Speech 2, TM Speech 3, TM Speech 4.
As I contemplated volunteering, I thought to myself, “What do I have to lose?” The answer was…nothing. I rationalized that the opportunity cost of not competing outweighed the risk of competing. Additionally, by speaking in a competitive setting, I expose myself to a new opportunity and challenge.
At worst, I embarrass myself. At best, I win and move onto the next level.
Public speaking has become a hobby and passion for me. I have no problem speaking in front of a crowd, but the idea of competing honestly made me nervous.
Then I realized that if I can compete in olympic weightlifting by getting in front of people in a skin-tight piece of clothing and attempt to lift heavy things, I can compete with one of my speeches.
I’m always looking for new ways to push myself and challenge myself. This competition was the challenge I was looking for.
The type of speech for this contest is a Humorous Speech. According to the official Toastmasters International “Speech Contest Rulebook,” the objectives of the speech are as follows:
- The subject for the Humorous speech shall be selected by the contestant. The speaker shall avoid potentially objectionable language, anecdotes, and material.
- The speech must be thematic in nature (opening, body, and close), not a monologue (series of one-liners).
- International and Humorous speeches shall be from five to seven minutes. A contestant will be disqualified if the speech is less than four minutes 30 seconds or more than seven minutes 30 seconds.
Establishing a prepared humorous speech proved to be difficult for me. I thought about some of the funniest moments in my life, and most of them honestly were not appropriate for a setting like Toastmasters.
Being intentionally humorous is an art within itself. I do think I am funny by nature, especially funny looking, but my jokes stem from sarcasm, wit, “Dad jokes” or inappropriate innuendos.
As I was reflecting and brainstorming potential topics during my morning journaling session, an idea hit me! One thing I am always able to laugh it is myself! Related: Dear journal…, How successful people make the most out of their mornings.
This created a snowball effect of jokes I can make about myself. I thought I could write about how much I love food, how poor my self-control is when it comes to food and I event thought about how I am always scratching due to my eczema.
After a few more thoughts like this, I finally settled on a trait that all of my taller friends and I enjoy discussing…My height.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average height of a male in the United States is 5 feet 9.5 inches tall. Standing at 5 feet 4 inches tall, I’m almost half a ruler shorter than the average male in the United States.
While it has its shortcomings, being below average height does have its high notes. See the speech below! To view read about the contest results, continue scrolling.
As always, whether you loved it, hated it or felt neutral about it, any feedback is welcome!
Reflections on the speech
After watching the video, I realized that I mentioned my age in the story twice during the introduction. This is a mistake. The speech was designed for me to mention that I was 17 during the first line of the introduction.
However, I was so nervous delivering this speech, that when I was in character as my physician, my mind was screaming with anxiety. Internally, I was thinking. “Shit, I can’t remember if I mentioned that I was 17 at the very beginning. Let’s mention it now to make it clear!”
Luckily, it was a minute mistake that didn’t detract from the overall speech. However, because I want this speech to be cleaner, I will make sure that this mistake doesn’t happen again.
Another difficulty that I experienced with this particular speech was the timing. According to the official Toastmasters International Contest Rules, “A contestant will be disqualified if the speech is less than four minutes 30 seconds or more than seven minutes 30 seconds.”
When I first practiced the speech it was 8 minutes long and 32 seconds long. 62 seconds over the maximum allotted time. I had to cut over 2 minutes worth of content to be comfortable with the timing of the speech.
This would give me a full 60 seconds of buffer time for a slower delivery or if I happen to forget content within my speech.
I did perform this speech for my girlfriend who gave me great feedback. I implemented her suggestions and made the speech sound more conversational and paused during the punchlines.
Once I was able to give the speech in 6 minutes and 30 seconds, then I felt comfortable with it. Truth be told, it took me about 30 attempts to get it under time consistently.
I was one of 3 speakers competing at the Menlo Park Toastmasters club level. After a random-drawing, I was selected to go 2nd.
Congratulations to the other speakers, they each delivered humorous speeches that made everyone in the audience laugh!
Luckily for me, my speech was the club contest winner.
I am now going to represent my Toastmasters Club at the area level. I will be competing against a handful of other club-winning speakers.
Stay tuned for those results!
Again, please provide any feedback you have for this speech!