How to Win a Speech Competition

Updated: May 5, 2019

It is time for the yearly speech competition, and yet again you are up against some tough contenders, but this year is your year. This year that speech trophy is yours. How can you make it happen? How can you stand out from the crowd? We have 19 Tips for Winning Speech Competitions and here are a sample of our top 4.


1) Start your speech with energy and creativity

Think about the word “hook.” It states what happens when you have a powerful opening, the audience is “hooked,” and the rest of the speech is you reeling them in. A fantastic hook I saw was from 2nd place Winner Sherri Zu for a 2018 Toastmaster International competition. Her speech was entitled “Turn Around,” and she started her speech with her back to the audience and slowly turned around. Watch the speech; the ending is also wonderfully dramatic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKVTzuvjEpg


2) Tell your message through a metaphor

A metaphor helps the audience relate to your message. When the audience can relate, they care, and when they care they remember. A fantastic example of this is Ramona Smith’s speech “Standing Still.” She compares life to a boxing match, and the metaphor was so effective she won the 2018 World Toastmaster Championship. Watch the speech and notice how effectively she weaves the metaphor through the speech.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Tev43VNRIc


3) Body Language

If you look confident, people respond. If you have an open posture, people engage. If you have energy, people listen. Body language captures the audience and holds them. Recall Ramona’s confident, open and energetic body expression; it won her the speech competition.


4) Have a take-home message that changes the audience

The audience needs to care about your speech, and the best way to get them to care is to give them a message that changes their life. This message can be a sense of empowerment, a positive feeling or the motivation to change. For instance, a speech on “Taking Chances” challenged the audience to take action and touch the Pyramids, build the Lego Death Star, or ride a hoverboard through NYC. A speech that gets an audience to act or consider action is memorable and being memorable is the ultimate trophy.



We have 19 Secrets for winning speech competitions so if you enjoyed these 4, stay tuned to the Quills and Quotes blog or enroll in a class.

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