Speech Competition

There’s really only one person you
need to compete with . . .

"No Sweat Public Speaking! - #1Toastmasters, and other speaking clubs, sometimes have speech competition called Speech Contests.  When I was a Toastie, I entered several.  I’m sure I won a few, but know I lost more than I won.

I hate to disagree with the famous coach Vince Lombardi, but ‘winning is not the only thing! ‘ It’s actually the process – not necessarily the event, that’s important.

In the club I belonged to, there were some amazing speakers.  One member, Paul, had forgotten more words than I ever knew.  Another speaker, Dan, had a great baritone voice that, had he been a preacher, would have sounded like God himself from the lectern.  (My voice is pretty nondescript.)

Now, if I decided not to speak when either of these people were in a contest, it would have been silly.  First of all, like in football, in any given contest, the presumed winner could stumble.  Secondly, it’s the journey, not the destination, that is important.

I remember being a participant in a local National Speaker’s Association ‘Showcase Showdown’.  Each contestant was given exactly four minutes for the speech, including the introduction.  This is an extremely small amount of time to get across a message.  I got some great coaching from Kelly.   Several times, she helped me look literally at five words in my talk, and decided which three of them to use!

I would never tell how many hours I spent on that four minute presentation.  In fact, I lost track of them.  However, it was more productive than I’m able to explain.  That exercise taught me how important it is to get your message across as soon as possible.

The winner of the Showcase was not me.

That’s not quite true.   Participating reinforced something I knew, but needed to be reminded of:
The only person you really need to compete with is – Yourself!

  • I needed to give the best speech Fred Miller can give.
  • I needed to give a speech that was better than the last one I gave.
  • I needed to give a speech that improved one thing from previous speeches and the critiques I received on them.

Keep this lesson in mind the next time you think about not participating in a contest because you think the competition is better than you.

Enter the contest – You immediately Win!

About the Author:
Fred E. Miller coaches, speaks and writes about Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.



  1. Russ Henneberry

    Good stuff Fred. It is certainly about the journey and the incremental gains we make by learning from our mistakes and getting better.

    I don’t think your voice is non-descript — I think the description that I would give your voice is “excited.” When I hear you speak, it definitely comes across clearly that you truly enjoy your subject matter and enjoy delivering a helpful message to a group of people.

  2. Ivan Temelkov


    This is a great post indeed. It’s an area that I personally struggle with and reading this post as well as your blog in general has inspired me to try harder. You are right! The only person you should compete with is YOURSELF!

    Keep those fresh thoughts and ideas coming.

    Thank You!

Comments are closed.