Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Competing at Discon 2011 by Alex Zeta

I have already been to three Toastmaster’s District Conferences. But this conference was special – at least to me. Why? Because this time I was competing in 2 categories. For the last 2 Discon’s I have sat in the crowd and wondered what it would be like to be on stage competing. Finally I was going to be able to find out first hand. There were four categories to compete in: Impromptu, Evaluation, Humorous and International Prepared Speech. I was Division F’s representative for the Evaluation and International Prepared Speech category.

I have prepared for this moment for months, from the club contest up to the district conference. On the first day they had all the contestants register for the categories each one would be competing in. After the briefing, which was done by PDG Gina Mapua, they had us pull out our speaking order. I got number 8 for the Evaluation contest. Perfect! I was visualizing number 10 but, as long as it wasn’t number 1, I’ll take it. For the Prepared speech I got number 5. It was good enough.

The Impromptu and Evaluation contest was scheduled on the first day – April 29. The Humorous and Prepared Speech contest was set on the next day. The morning went swiftly by. Before it knew it the Impromptu Speaking Contest and the election of the next set of district officers was over and it was time for the Evaluation Competition. We were all asked to sit at a table in front so we could listen to the test speaker. Then the martial escorted us to a holding room to wait for our turn.

Finally, I was up. The stage looked scary to me. I started walking towards the platform. The room was deathly silent. It was like everything was happening in slow motion. My heart was beating so fast I felt like I was going to have a heart attack any second. My mouth was dry and my hands were cold and clammy. Then I started to speak. And it felt like I was back were I belonged. Once the first few words were out I began to enjoy myself. Adrenaline rushed through me and I thought, this is why I love speaking. There’s nothing quite like the rush of nervous excitement when you’re on stage.

Competing for the International Prepared Speech Category was even more nerve racking for me. My mouth was so dry I had a hard time pronouncing the words at first. But I had memorized my speech so thoroughly I couldn’t have forgotten it if I wanted to. But after those first few seconds I began to feel my speech come to life. I had poured my heart out in that speech. And now all those feelings that I put in it: anger, betrayal and finally, forgiveness came rushing to the surface. Tears threatened to fall and my voice began to reflect the rawness of the emotion I was feeling. At that point I no longer thought of winning. What mattered to me was that I shared my story and maybe, through that, I could uplift someone who was going through the same experience.

I won 1st place in the Evaluation Category. As for the Prepared Speech, I didn’t even place. But I still felt like a winner. Just being able to compete among such amazing speakers was an immensely humbling experience for me. This experience taught me so much.

I have been a Toastmaster for over 2 years now and although this was my first time to compete at the District level, I’ve competed several times in club and area competitions. And I can honestly say that after ever competition, win or loose, I’ve grown as a speaker.

Winning is an amazing feeling. But what makes it so special is the person you have grown to become. Success is never accidental. It requires passion backed by hard work. It’s not easy. But it’s definitely worth it.

Have you ever wondered how the Midyear Conference began? Read my post on the The Midyear Conference: When did it all begin? to find out!


  1. I'm very proud of you Alex. I saw you practice in the holding room and witnessed your speech. Your speech was crisp and clear, like a prepared speech. You hit the right buttons. You are the clear champion for Evaluation 2011. Congratulations and more power to you.

    Stephen :)

  2. @Stephen: Thanks Stephen. That means a lot coming from a national champion :)See you in Boracay! :)