Meet A Toastmaster: George Anderson
International Speech Contest Winner (Division J)
What is your name, home club and contest you won?
My name is George Anderson. I am a member of Thame Speakers, and last year I Won the Division J Speech Contest and participated in the District 91 finals in May.
What is your secret? Why do you think you won?
When it comes to the secret of what I believe was the reason that I won the Division J Speech Contest… I don’t think that there’s a particular secret to it. But certainly there are some of the things that I would say contributed to the success in that particular contest.
It was the balance between rehearsal and off the cuff speaking. I think when we speak at clubs often it’s not too rehearsed. You may have spent a bit of time working on a project but probably you don’t give the same speech twice very often. Whereas in the contest it needs to be so tight to time! But equally it can’t feel too scripted. Certainly finding that balance was one of the challenges that I spent a lot of time trying to overcome. My solution was to have a framework and some specific stories that I wanted to share. But also I would allow myself to go off and share those stories in a more natural way. So I think that was possibly one of the ingredients in the successful outcome.
Why would you recommend someone to participate in the Toastmasters speech contest?
I highly recommend anybody to get involved in the International Speech Contest if you’re eligible. It raises your game. It puts you into a situation which is not necessarily adding an extra pressure but it certainly challenges you to bring out the best of yourself.
Of course, that doesn’t always happen in one day, but the process is so much more valuable than any possible outcome. It’s a very different kind of challenge. It encourages you to focus on particular aspects of presenting, for example, what I just mentioned a moment ago about getting the balance between rehearsal and not being too scripted and have a more relaxed authentic style of speaking. Additionally, it challenges your writing and speech craft. It helps to improve the way you structure your talk, the way you include more stories, use the power of three. The structure of the speech becomes even more important when you push yourself to the International speech contest at Club level and then Area, Division, District, and even beyond.
What is your next challenge?
My next challenge is, of course, the International Speech Contest 2022, and I’ll be taking part at my club level in just a few weeks time!
But I’m also continuing my own journey into the next chapter of my own professional speaking career, of which Toastmasters has been an absolutely integral part. And that’s now a big part of what I do for living, so it’s fantastic to have the opportunities at Toastmasters to practice and test out some new technics which I then use in paid speaking engagements.
I’m very much committed to the Pathways and also the competition journeys within Toastmasters world.