Every once in a while, the South River Toastmasters hold a club speech competition. These events are similar to normal club nights, except that they have 6-8 contestants, five judges, a larger audience and a greater tendency to induce pant-wetting in the speakers.
I signed up for the competition a couple of weeks before the event, and the wheels of destiny were set in motion. Backing out of a speech competition has no real repercussions, except for the ones that your conscience will inflict upon your ego for doing so.
Here's my speech, entitled "What are you wearing?"
I think it turned out fairly well, although there were some delivery errors that I noticed after watching myself on video (a peculiarly unsettling affair). I need to work more on audience engagement, as well as better transitions and more pauses between sections. In the end though, I was awarded second place which is a pretty good result. It simultaneously gave me a pat on the back as well as room to improve.
Thanks go to Heather for sitting through rehearsals with me on the weekend beforehand. She played an excellent one-person mock audience, complete with canned laughter at the appropriate times. The feedback I received really helped turn the speech from a regular affair into something more presentable.
Toastmasters is more than just about improving your public speaking skills. It's a great way to work with motivated people while having fun at the same time. If you still haven't visited your local Toastmasters club yet, I think it's high time that you gave it a try.