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Friday, 11 March 2011

Edinburgh PR Wins Speech Contest

Last night I won a speech contest. OK, it wasn't a big event, but it was the first heat of a speech contest that culminates in the US: the Toastmasters' annual World Championship of Public Speaking in August.

But for me, it is not about taking America by storm. It is the first time that I have won a speech contest. And my third attempt. I will get a second run at the speech with a full session devoted to giving me powerful feedback. Another step towards becoming a professional speaker.

I took my first step in mastering the basics when I joined Toastmasters a few years ago. That was right after we lost a pitch to produce a magazine. The telephone feedback was: "PHPR was much better on paper (you better believe it: we had assembled a team of crack writers on the case) but we were blown away by the other company's presentation".

I asked the obvious question, "Excuse me, but wasn't this a paper-based project we were pitching for?"

There was a very long silence at the other end of the phone. I like to think the caller had just realised they had got it horribly wrong, but maybe they were just not used to a potential supplier questioning them as it was a large and powerful organisation.

It's not that I was a bad speaker. It's just that I wasn't an exceptional speaker. It was an expensive lesson in the power of style over substance.

But they did me a huge favour in that they got me to finally join Toastmasters, which is a hugely supportive and inexpensive arena to hone speaking skills, try out new ideas and build confidence.

To the best of my knowledge, the magazine we pitched for never actually appeared. It is all water under the bridge now. But as far as I know, I've never lost a pitch to a better presenter since I joined Toastmasters.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Blogger jockielugs said...

Congratulations, Penny. Next time we meet I will need to listen and learn!

11 March 2011 at 15:51  
Blogger Penny Haywood Calder said...

Thanks Jockielugs!

12 March 2011 at 16:37  
Blogger Penny Haywood Calder said...

Now through another round and won that too! Off to the Midlands for the next stage. Then only three more rounds to eclipse about 200k entrants! Some hope, but I can dream. Plus I've had some good tips from Erick Rainey who has twice won 3rd place in this, the world's largest public speaking championships. The last two rounds are in the US.

1 April 2011 at 14:45  

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