By Mark Hanly, Finalist D91 Table Topics Contest 3rd May 2019, District Table Topics Winner 2017, member of Early Bid Speakers Club
It was a thrill and an honour to participate in the D91 District Final in Table Topics for the second year running.
It was the culmination of a very enjoyable series of contests and events starting at Club level at my own club Early Bird Speakers. Club contests are great. In our club, there is great anticipation and buzz around contests. Participation is high, the audience supportively noisy and and everyone brings their A-game. Thus, while you may think you know a lot about your mates in the club, you learn a surprising amount more at the Contest. It should be illegal to unleash that amount of energy in a room before most people start work! Seriously though, whatever your level of experience in Toastmasters, I would encourage everyone to take part in their club contests. It’s a real fast track to improving your skills and fantastic fun.
Moving onto the area and division contests bring new challenges and fun. It’s delightful to get a chance to play with members from other clubs and to see what new perspectives and approaches they bring. Being less familiar with the participants in these contests than those in your own club keeps the adrenaline and the keenness flowing. It is competitive, good-natured, supportive, and again enormously enjoyable.
This was the first year in which, for totally reasonable and understandable reasons, the Table Topics District Final was held in May rather than being the culmination of a rapid series of Club through Division contests which were still held in autumn. I think for me this presented perhaps the greatest challenge adapting to the lull between the Division and District finals. I’m a great fan of go-go-go! But hey, challenges only make us grow and learn, the very ethos of Toastmasters.
Overall, the entire series of contests is a great experience. If you have never entered a contest, dive on in. The water’s warm, as the old saying goes. See y’all in September for the next round!