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中華民國演講協會榮獲經理人雜誌最受經理人歡迎三大社團之一。
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不只是演講..../A Contest Speech...

敬請期待中譯版本...

A contest is different from a regular meeting. A contest speech will also require a different degree of preparation as well as a different type of support network around the contestants. A contest speech often challenges a contestant to extend his/her own skills by polishing and refining every aspect of the speech. A speaker discovers more about his/her styles and unique messages in this repeated process. There are many ways to prepare for a speech contest. Whether you are a contestant, a coach, a judge, a club officer, or just a member, you can participate in the contests in many different ways and benefit from the experience. 
 

 

For a contestant, it is crucial to read the contest rules and study the judges’ ballot to understand the judging criteria. It would also help to attend judges training workshops. Everyone should learn the rights, obligations, and rules for different parties involved in a speech contest, because when there are doubts, only contestants and judges are eligible to lodge protests regarding issues of originality or membership status. It is always a lot of fun to be a judge if you are not competing as a contestant. Judges usually look at different aspects of a speech and this is a great exercise in improving analytical skills.  

 

After the speech has been written and the main message determined, it’s time to work on delivery skills. Most of us write out our scripts as if they are documents to be submitted as reports. But the truth is that no one will be “reading” the contest scripts, so a contestant is free to format the words, sentences, and paragraphs in any way that will help with the delivery and timing of gestures, pauses, even stage directions. When Jim Key visited our district last November, I found his contest script online, free for anyone to download. His script was divided into two major columns: the actual narration, words that he said, were written on the right and on the left were stage directions including vocal variety, gestures, and any comments related to the actual delivery of the words. You can all download a copy for your reference at www.jimkey.com. This format will also work for any manual speeches. Try it. Maybe this will help you better match the gestures with the words and add in pauses. I like to start a new paragraph when I think there should be a pause. When my eyes finish reading a sentence, there is an automatic pause before the words are registered into the brain as the next thought.  

 

Another great way to experiment with delivery skills is to watch the DVD of past contest champions. Toastmasters International Speech Contests are video taped and they are available for purchase online. Our own District 67 also offers the DVDs after every convention. Watching these masters and experienced speakers will help us see possibilities that we didn’t know existed. I highly recommend David Brooks’ Magic Moments where all the best examples from all the contestants are edited together in a DVD full of these magic moments.  

 

If you are serious about winning the speech contests, then it’s time to find an agent and a coach. Looking for an agent is the easier part. In fact, every contestant should be assigned an agent by the club officers. An agent is the person who helps a contestant book speaking engagements at other clubs, hands out and collects the evaluation sheets designed specifically for the contest speech, video tapes the delivery, helps the contestants put on the microphone headsets, prepares hot water and drinks, arranges any props used during the speech, and simply being there to support the contestants. Depending on the speech and the level of club support that is available, more than one agent might be necessary. A cheerleading team would be even better! There are no requirements for volunteering as an agent for any contestant.  

 

Finding a coach would require a little more investigation. A coach is usually someone who has competed in a contest and would be able to share actual contest experience with a contestant. Having been through the process and learning to cope under stress, the feelings and emotions are difficult to explain unless you have been through the experience. A speaker who has not competed in a contest, but has special knowledge in techniques such as vocal variety and gestures, would be great in offering their professional opinions as well. A good coach would be able to take a contestant to the next level. The process of working with a coach might be frustrating because everyone has different thoughts on how best to deliver a message. Finding that balance between maintaining your own style and incorporating ideas from the coaches is also part of the learning process.  

 

A contest is really nerve racking for a contestant. I believe all of us can lend a hand to support those who have the courage to stand up and step out. They are facing their fears and reaching into unfamiliar territory. Let’s build a support network around all our contestants either in assigning agents, gathering a group of cheerleaders, or in serving as coaches. If you don’t have a lot of time, then simply say to the contestants that their speeches are really fantastic and terrific. It doesn’t matter whether they win a trophy or not, they are already winners for competing in the contests and if we can further encourage them with our words of kindness, then it will be the additional boost to push them onto the stage and perform their best. Hot water and towels, anyone?

Helen Chen, DTM is the Champion of the 2006 English Evaluation Contest Champion. During that same convention, she was also a coach to the Humorous Speech Contest Champion Sammy Su. It was the first time she worked with a contestant to prepare for the speech contest. She has been invited to be a contest judge many times and is also experienced in conducting training workshops helping members develop speaking skills.

Contact her at <helen.smiles@hotmail.com>. Visit the World Mosaic website for World Mosaic meeting agendas at www.worldmosaic.freetoasthost.net.

 

 

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