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May 2024
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Speech Contests Unlock Possibilities

By Morag Mathieson, DTM

Toastmasters International President Morag Mathieson
Morag Mathieson, DTM

Speech contests are ramping up. If you have ever wondered about the experience, or considered participating, I encourage you to sign up. A speech contest is one of the best ways to grow your speaking skills, gain confidence, and even understand the bigger world of Toastmasters.

My home club, Erlangen Toastmasters in Bavaria, Germany, does a Table Topics® speech contest every year, and the organizers encourage every member who isn’t involved as a contest official to participate. Not only does it give everyone the experience of speech contests, but it’s also a fun activity to do together.

When I joined Toastmasters, I wasn’t interested in participating in a speech contest—that wasn’t why I joined. But when contest season came around, and I saw my club’s lovely tradition, I took part and to my surprise, I won! This meant I got to compete at the Area contest. I managed to win the Area Tables Topics contest and the Division one, which then took me to the District conference.

A speech contest is one of the best ways to grow your speaking skills, gain confidence, and even understand the bigger world of Toastmasters.

And that was the moment that opened my eyes. It was my first District conference, and it gave me the chance to see my District doing business together. I was able to meet people from around the District, people I never would have met before.

My speech contest journey meant I also made a journey outside my club. I had the opportunity to meet many new people, and I got to understand what the Area and Division structure meant, and who those leaders were, those people stepping up to leadership.

Speech contests challenge us. They challenge us to put our best foot forward in a way we might not have thought about before. They give us the opportunity to connect with people who can give us feedback, feedback that we might never have asked for before, from a group of people who might not know us. And they also give us a chance to see and understand the wider world and bigger picture of Toastmasters.

I encourage everyone to consider competing in their club contest. It’s a different experience from giving a club speech. I also encourage you to attend the speech contests at your Area, Division, or District level. You’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and experience their speeches. And you may discover depths in yourself that you might otherwise never have known existed.

Morag Mathieson, DTM

2023–2024 International President


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