October 15, 2007

Competing against yourself



Steve Pavlina has a great post here about competing in a Toastmasters humor speech contest. The text of the speech is on John Kinde's blog, where he analyzes Steve's use of humor.

Something Steve said struck me: "I improve much more rapidly doing the contests than I do delivering non-competitive speeches. The competition pushes me to do my best."

Of course, competition pushes us to succeed, because most of the time we want to win!

However, I would hope that most speakers are pushing themselves to do their best every time they speak. If you're not pushing yourself, your audience suffers.

As I've mentioned before about speaking in the "real world," the way I've improved over time is by facing audiences who may or may not want to be there, handling technical difficulties, projecting my voice over whispering teenagers and clanking plates, crafting a presentation that meets the particular needs of a particular audience, answering uncomfortable questions, dealing with hecklers, and managing other factors that tend not to be present in a controlled environment like a competition.

If you consider each speaking opportunity as a competition against your previous presentation, then you will always continue to improve.

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