At this same time last year, the president of our Toastmasters club asked us, “Who wants to enter the Humorous Speech Contest?” Out of the twenty-five people in the room, four people put their hands up. I put my hand up, too. I’d only joined Toastmasters the month before and I had no idea what was involved. Yet, a number of people I liked and admired, had put themselves forward, and I felt it was only right I should join them.

Evaluation Contest

In my mind, I imagined we’d be delivering our talks, as we did each week, to one another, in the usual club setting. Have a laugh. A cup of tea. End of.

Little did I expect what was to follow.

When I trucked up to our club rooms to give my speech in the contest that day, I was surprised to find the room was full of people. And at least half the people there were strangers. This is always a big step up for any aspiring public speaker. That moment when you go beyond the friendly faces and atmosphere of your club setting.


My reaction was to go into panic and meltdown.

No one had warned me. I had had no idea that this contest was on a big scale. Turns out there are four big contests in Toastmasters a year, and all of them work to funnel the best speakers in the country to the top of the pile. At the end of each year, the best speaker from New Zealand goes over to the Annual International Convention, this year being held in Washington D.C, to compete against the best speakers from all around the world. Like, it literally couldn’t be any bigger. So, for the club level contests, there have to be guest judges, a contest chairperson, tally counters, the works.

Now, I’m not a competitive person. I never have been. I only entered thinking I was participating in something a bit fun within my club. Once the event was under way, I was terrified, thinking about the scope. I was waaaaay out of my comfort zone. But, it was too late to back out.


Long story, short, I ended up winning. The moment they called my name, I thought, Oh, crabapples, now I’m going to have to compete at the next level. I tell you, there is no way I would have put myself forward into that position, if it hadn’t happened completely by accident like that. So it was a comedy of errors to get to that point. Like a row of dominoes.

Anyway, on the night of the next level of the competition, my nerves were off the charts. It was the only time I’d experienced a panic attack. When I started speaking, my nerves got worse and worse rather than weaker and weaker. So much so, that I ground to a halt twice during the delivery and went completely blank. I felt I’d flubbed it. But I won second place.

003 (6)

I came home, shakily, needing a week to recover. I had never been more afraid. I had never felt more exposed. I had never felt more adrenalin. I said to myself that was one of the worst experiences of my entire life. I’m never doing that again!

This week, at our club meeting, El Presidente asked, “Who wants to enter the Humorous Speech Contest?” and I found myself putting my hand up. I know it’s going to be utterly terrifying. I know I’m going to want to kill myself for putting myself in that situation, on the night of the competition. Yet, I put my hand up.



Because it’s like I’m in competition with myself: I have to do better than I did last time. Not to come first. But to deliver the whole speech and not to freeze up when I felt so previously stricken.

Yeah, that’s the crux of it: I want to do better than that.

It’s a personal challenge. I’ll let you know how I go.

Which personal challenge are you the most proud of overcoming?

Yvette Carol 2

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol


I think my securities far outweigh my insecurities. I am not nearly as afraid of myself and my imagination as I used to be. ~ Billy Connolly


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  1. davidprosser says:

    Go for it Yvette, you can do this.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bun Karyudo says:

    Congratulations on finishing second the first time round. That’s no mean achievement in itself. Several more wheelbarrowfuls of congratulations for having the courage to do it all again. If you keep at it, you can only continue improving. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. emaginette says:

    Personal challenges are the best. I won’t compete with anyone else. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hooray for your wins and bravery! Flying to conferences by myself was my big accomplishment recently. I’d not flown alone since 1988! Not as noteworthy as yours, but it’s nice to know I can do something on my own. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      I’m such a big chicken these days that I’m actually scared to go out for a run. Out jogging yesterday, a man walked past me in a hoodie, head down. As I ran past, he grunted some words under his breath which I won’t repeat. But, I came home feeling scared. I now find myself contemplating investing in a treadmill for the first time in my life. It’s just a sign of the times, I think. Sad, but that’s where it’s at for me


  5. I need toastmasters. I went to a meeting once and left terrified and never went back. It was at the Bridgestone corporate headquarters and someone later told me that was the best one in the area…champions come out of there. VERY intimidating. I’d like to go to one with humans. But they don’t really teach you how to speak…you just get up there and they critique you. I guess you learn from your mistakes but I think I need an actual class!


    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      A good way in is to watch out for a “speech-craft” course. They’re run by experienced Toastmasters. Speech-craft courses are short intensive workshops essentially, to teach the mechanics of speech giving. That’s a really good idea, Stephanie, to do a class first!
      Once you join, the first manual you receive is basically a boiled down set of ten short classes on writing speeches, also.
      I always associate speech-writing with writing story, and I’m astonished at the cross overs so far. The two disciplines feed into one another in a very complimentary fashion. 🙂


  6. […] you remember the Humorous Speech Contest I’ve been sweating over? I took one in the eye. I not only didn’t win, I didn’t even […]


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