Toastmasters International District 76

Toastmasters International District 76 Japan Communication and Leadership Program since 1924

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Tips from District 76 Speech Contest Champions

International Speech Contest Champion 2014

Drian Von Golden 
Leadership Toastmasters Club

'Banzai, kimi o suki de yokatta'. The words sprang from my voice. 1998, Gasoline Ally, Tokyo. The same live house 'The Alfee' found their fame. My guitar was aligned close to a dynamic floor mounted mic and my vocal mic, a Shure SM 57, standard Rock Music vocal mic. I bounced my guitar off the mic with an irritating crash so often because there wasn't any free space. That was me playing my debut concert, in Tokyo, with my group I named 'Little Big Mouth'. 
The Fame of  'The Alfee' didn't follow my debut but the sensation of that night lives forever.

The first time you take to the stage with a fresh audience, you never know how the gig will go. Will it succeed or bomb? That sense of thrilling excitement closely paired to the potential for complete disaster. I never expected to experience that same level of adrenaline again, you can only debut once, right, but I did experience it again in 2013, Nagoya. 
No, it wasn't a gig with 'The Alfee', it was the District 76, International Speech Final. 
I took to the stage after Naoki Tamura. Could I have had a tougher act to follow? You Decide.
30 seconds into my speech, my throat dried out like the Sahara desert, my lips felt like porcelain that was about to shatter into a mil-lion fragments. 
So what went wrong after almost 20 years of stage performing? 
A single cause, 'Confidence', I had lost it. 
I hadn't been able to run a complete rehearsal of my speech that was a sure sign my speech wasn't working. Up to that day I'd isolat-ed my practice into three areas, the intro, the body, the conclusion. 
So I took to the stage and relied on my old friend 'Improvisation' to fill in the missing gaps. Not a great strategy for a contest final. I crashed and burned. 
Yes, not once did I run my speech from beginning to end.
Why not? Glad you thought that question.
I had listened to too many improvement suggestions, too many criticisms and too many new ideas. I had lost ownership of my baby. Sure all the words were still mine minus my heart and soul, my story was now safe and sterile. 
No Risk, No Reaction. 

I took third place in the contest but first place in learning a valuable lesson. 
'Never loose the love of your Speech, never let your speech become someone else's message'.

I needed a new Speech for the new 2014 Season of Speeches. 
I had to adapt a new strategy as my old one had failed, crashed and burned. I binned my 2013 Strategy. 
My topic had to be Universally Understandable. For me this was 'Bullying'.
My Speech needed to have some short, succinct, catch phrases that I could hook my message to. 
My Speech needed to have enough characters so I could enjoy performing my personalities on stage. 
My Speech needed to start with my title and conclude with my title. 
But there was still something secret ingredient...

Going into the 2014 International Speech Season, I had a new strategy. I would build one Speech, keep tuning my message and commit to my concept 100%. All the way through from club level onwards.
And that one secret, which you must promise not to reveal...
I would listen to everyone's comments, criticisms and suggestions, oh, doesn't sound like a revealing secret does it? Yes I would listen to everyone, but, I would pass those comments through a secret filter. 
I remind you that you have promised under oath not to reveal my secret to any other person, alien or any moderately intelligent cat that might quiz you.
That secret filter? 
The one and only ‘one’ person I would completely believe in, for any judgment, even if that person's judgment seemed strange, con-fusing or contradictory, I would follow that advice and comply. 
That person is my most trusted 'Muse'. 
A Muse is a creative person who inspires us artists, and we are all artists, and challenge our Status Quo, to break out of our safety zone. 
So my best-kept secret, my Muse has been prodding, pushing and placating me. My Muse has been there to keep me on track, keep me believing in my ability even when I doubt myself and have lost confidence. 

If you've never felt that thrill of debuting live in a Theatre Production, or playing live music in Tokyo, or Osaka, and you have done 6 CC manual Speeches. Compete in a Contest, the energy, excitement and growth you'll get from this experience will lift you way be-yond the safe and secure progress you get by only speaking in front of your regular members in your familiar home club. Get out there and join multiple clubs and discover the diversity of the audience. 

My gratitude goes to my one secret that you have all sworn an oath not to reveal. 
Thank you my Muse, you know I wouldn't have broken through District without you.

See you in the International Finals. 


Drian Von Golden

International Japanese Speech Contest Champion 2014

 Yoshiko Kinomoto
Urawa Toastmasters Club

 (Japanese Only)






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