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Of Port wine & Rhetoric

April 26, 2010 fm

I had never been to Portugal. Until last weekend! Following the motto “Effective Communication Iberia 2010” more than 60 active Toastmasters joined the Division H (Spain & Portugal) International Speech Contest of Toastmasters Intl.

It turned out to be both a great educational and cultural experience. The latter one climaxed in several bodegas on Friday when we tried to avoid drowning in Port wine – of course without the slightest chance of success!

Educational highlights during the very well organized conference on Saturday were the interventions by John Zimmer and Mel Kelly.

John, a four-time District 59 (Continental Europe) contest winner, shared with us 22 steps one should take into consideration, if one wants to win a speech contest. Among others, he advised us to get feedback from friends, get familiar with the stage set-up, and to write down the speech in full. The last advise John gave us was the most critical and most difficult step: “I know that you have to make it happen, but I cannot tell you how: You have to touch the heart of the audience in some way.”

Mel Kelly, two-time District 59 evaluation contest winner, talked about success factors of a great speech evaluation. In his excellent speech he stated, for example, that contestants tend to forget about the summary during their evaluation where they should wrap up the good points of the speech and the potential for improvement. “You will lose 15% of the points, if you miss out a summary. It can be decisive!” Mel could make good reference to the evaluation contest carried out just two hours before.

The rhetorical lighthouse of the conference was the International Speech Contest and I am thrilled and humbled to have won this tough competition. The audience heard seven excellent speeches – a rather difficult task for the judges.

Winners were declared during our gala dinner where table topics mostly circled around two themes: Port wine and rhetoric!

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