From Sweaty Palms to Speaking Success:

My Journey Through Toastmasters Competitions

As Eminem rapped “palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” these few words could explain part of how I felt going into competition season for Toastmasters. I know individuals from my club could even tell by the look on my face that I needed aromatherapy and fast. I was offered essential oils before I spoke and I gladly obliged and took them. The scent soothed my soul but I still had nerves.

To try to get over my nerves I practised, practised, practised my speech for hours over and over again. I thought I was going to do a speech I had already done and I had practised it soooooo much. I presented it to members of my club and they really helped me out and gave me great tips and pointers. Then I had a zoom meeting with my mentor and she gave me feedback of how to improve my speech. I listened to her feedback and changed my speech. I really had to think about the advice and take out parts and add parts. I thought my speech was done and then these changes came. Eeeeek! But I was so thankful for her advice. She wanted me to personalize the speech even more and so I did. She also recommended that I practise my speech with another member from the club. The helpful hints I received from both my mentor and the other member were so amazing. They both helped me improve my speech even more.

I received so much encouragement from Calgary Pace Setters Toastmasters Club along the way. I was so thankful for all of the wonderful feedback I received from the club. I had the club contest first, then a Circle of Gold at the club. This is where I did my speech and everyone at the club gave feedback. This was a tremendous support and I was so grateful for it.

Then I won the Area D23 contest and I was invited to another Circle of Gold. This circle was to improve my speech even more. I had to do my speech over zoom to a bunch of other Toastmasters who I never met before. I received feedback to change the beginning of my speech. Two different ways were suggested by two different individuals. One was to read from my book. (Yes, I am an author.) The second was to really grab the audience’s attention. After all of the wonderful suggestions from this Circle of Gold I had another call with a friend in England to decide which way to do the speech. I really wanted to do a reading from my memoir at the beginning but it didn’t go over as well as the other beginning. Therefore, I had new lines to learn and rehearse before the next competition.

The next competition was in Lethbridge and I drove close to 2 hours to go compete again. Competing can be nerve wracking but after you have finished your speech it is the most exhilarating experience. With every contest and all of the amazing help along the way I improved my speaking skills at every level. After I did my speech in Lethbridge a delightful lady from the audience told me her story about mental health and all of the wonderful things she does for the cause. She told me that my speech touched her heart and that connectedness made the experience even more brilliant. If your “palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” before you speak know that other people have those experiences too and it’s all a part of learning, growing and developing as a speaker. Definitely worth it.

Sandra Boszko

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