Sunday, June 8, 2008

Region 2 International Speech Contest

On June 7, 2008 I attended the Region 2 International Speech Contest. I have been requested to give my impressions on how the speeches went Here is “What I’ve Learned” In speaking order I will give descriptions on the placing speeches. All others I will give brief comments. 1) DAVID ADAMS ( District 49 – Hawaii) Speech Title “Small Stuff” This was David’s 3rd or 4th try at this title (He did not place). Paced a lot, poor eye contact, favored one side of the audience, seminar style delivery. In order to make it beyond this level David needs a coach who had been there done that. 2) JOE VALERY (District 12 –Riverside/San Bernardino Counties) Speech Title “A Haul Away” Placed 2nd in the contest Joe started off with a great story on how his wife got him into the Junk Hauling Business even though he already had a full time job. He talked about going to homes and hauling away their junk. He transitioned into how we all have junk in our lives and how much better life would be if we unloaded our junk. Good delivery, pausing, eye contact, and fitting close. Facial expression and gestures were appropriate to the message being delivered. 3) CARL WALSH (Founders District – Orange County & East Los Angeles) Speech Title “How Dumb Can You Get” Placed 3rd in the Contest Carl started off with a story about his grandfather asking him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He responded he wanted to be a tiger. He transitioned into how we should get dumb about what we can’t do and our self limiting ideals and go for our dreams. 4) BOBBY DALE LEE (District 4 – San Francisco, Santa Clara, Monterey, San Mateo) Speech Title “Somebody Else” Bobby speech was about taking action and not to wait for other people to do it for you. He talked about growing up in Alabama during the 50’s/60’s. Lynchings as he was growing up his mother always told him to do it himself but then when he started to work on integrations issues she wanted him to let someone else take the risk. Hard to understand at times, speech somewhat a downer. 5) SUSAN MAYBERRY (District 52 – Downtown LA, Burbank, San Fernando Valley) Speech Title “10 Items or Less”. Speech was about kindness, transitions were weak, little vocal variety or gestures. Hard to hear at times, speech somewhat of a downer. 6) KRISTIN HALVIN (District 5 – San Diego) Speech Title “Now That’s Deep” I felt that she was more speaking at the audience than with the audience. Almost, a lecture feel to her presentation style. Somewhat overwhelming at times overly, loud vocal presentation with little eye contact during the speech. I suspect she went over time. 7) ROBERT MacKENZIE (District 1 – West Los Angeles, Long Beach) Speech Title “My Alter Ego” Winner of the Contest Robert talked about creating an alter ego named Bob. He started out early in his school life and progressed the story giving examples about how bob would always have him say “NO” in order to avoid pain and risk. Then he met his wife and it forced him to reevaluate how he approached life. He talked about having a heart attack and his family, and friends gathered in his hospital room to support him. His gestures and how he made you believe that Bob was right there on the stage with him made his speech very believable. His transitions were clean and his close was right on. He tied all the elements together, his stage use was well done. He was just a slight bit better than Joe Valery. 8) Christine Kitchenmaster (District 33 – East Central California, Southern Nevada) Speech Title “A Word of Kindness”. Speech was somewhat Loosey Goosey, did not fit together well, so soft spoken she was hard to hear at times. She was more of a cutesy presenter than a contest speaker. Christine used a gesture that was to signfy the ups and downs of life but did not support that gesture by looking at it. This makes the gesture look like a wild hand movement and not a meaningful part of the speech. When we gesture it must be congruent with the words that come out of our mouths. SUMMARY: Having reviewed over 155 World Championship Speeches and at least 30 Regional Level Speeches I came to these conclusions about this contest. Like most high level contests one or two (Joe and Robert) were head and shoulders above the rest. There speeches were well written, practiced and coached. The 3rd place winner was at the next level down and deservedly so. Several of the speeches were entertaining but not of championship quality. The quality of judging at this level is superior to that at the District levels and lower due to the fact of knowledge, experience and expectation of performance. Being cute can possibly get a speaker through the District level but it cannot at the Regional level. The reason that a speaker has to write a new speech at the Regional and Finals level is to challenge their ability to be consistent and perform at a high level worthy of a champion. Having less time to perfect their speeches separates the pretenders from the contenders. Unfortunately most speakers can write one great speech sometimes two great speeches but fall very short when it comes to writing three great speeches This fact is very evident when you watch the videos/DVD’s of the World Championships of Public Speaking. Having analyzed 17 years and 155 speeches given at the World Championship level it is obvious that at these levels it is more about skills in delivery, writing, and knowing your audience and less about who you know or who knows you. In speech competition it is the Judges (therefore the audience) that is King. If you connect with the audience you connect with the judges. Remember it is Heart, Head, Humor in that order that makes the speaker a winner. So my friends thats "What I've Learned"