TJXpressions hosted the Table Topics and Humorous speech contests for Area 61 last month. This is the first time that we have organised a contest to be held at our premises which was really exciting. We proposed the idea to the committee a few months ago and off the back of this we had a small enthusiastic team from TJXpressions alongside representatives from the Area council planning the contest.
Whilst this was the first time that TJX would be holding a contest, it was also the first time for the TJX representatives organising a contest so this was all new to us! I have competed in contests previously and supported by filling various roles at contests, but this was my first opportunity taking on the role of Contest Chair. I can now share how naïve I was when it came to realising the number of considerations and logistical arrangements that need to be ticked off when planning a contest. It has given me a greater awareness and admiration of the depth of event planning that is required to run a Toastmasters contest.
On a more personal note, stepping up as Contest Chair was definitely a push outside of my comfort zone and I reaped the benefits of this. Taking on the role of contest chair helps with building your own skillset around event-planning, hosting and networking. I thought the most challenging part for me would be hosting but in the end it was actually the organisation in the run up to the event. I relied heavily on the support of the contest team and it’s vital to remember that successful contest planning cannot fall to just one individual. Your team is there to help you, lean on them when you need guidance or if you are feeling stretched with the workload.
We publicised the event within our company and we have had several interested guests come forward ever since. It was great to build awareness of the club through this contest and to have this as a showcase for TJXpressions to demonstrate the vast offering of the club. Like most things, contest planning is the most challenging when you’re doing it for the first time. But now we are aware of what the process should look like and have learnt from any takeaways/feedback, we know that we have all the tools and connections needed to ensure we could run another Area contest successfully.
I kept reminding myself that the most important thing was to make sure that I enjoyed the contest on the night and that I didn’t let any planning stresses get in the way of this. It’s crucial to embrace an event which is a celebration of excellent public speaking skills and it also avoids undermining the efforts that went into making sure this contest went ahead. Ultimately these events are the pinnacle of displaying our local speaking talent and it supports them with their development journey. With teamwork, past learnings and enthusiasm for our Area members’ growth, I’m confident that TJX could run another successful contest in the future.