I am a long term member of Toastmasters, the self-help organisation that assists the individual to develop and refine his sense and skill in communicating effectively and persuasively. The skill to do so is something that we have to work at, it does not come as a talent. It's also one of those things that if not maintained through practise and rehearsal is soon lost.
I have just attended one of our conferences where members from different area clubs come together to observe styles and levels of expertise, and to compete for awards that result in the declaration that this one is a winner of this, and that one is a winner of that. This appeals to the competitive nature in lots of people, but frankly, I find it offensive that people who are in training are effectively told you are not as brilliant as I am.
It could be that I am not a good loser, but in spite of that I do not join in the festivities to be judged above my fellow students. Being together in large groups like this and spending time learning from one another is really great fun and just plain instructional. We make good friends and grow our network. What does it mean to be judged: First in Class? Well, I got a certificate and a very nice bottle of red wine. I'm sure I will enjoy the wine but the certificate means absolutely nothing to me.
How would it work if we simply had the same challenges without anyone judging us? The audience can certainly decide whose presentation they liked, and the speakers do get evaluated at club level as to how their speeches were received, so they have a good idea of how they are progressing. The real value of presenting your own work in a major congress is the experience you gain.
The simple fact that you are prepared to work hard to develop your skill makes you a winner, and in that regard, everybody is a winner. Enough said?
Copyright (c) 2015 Eugene Carmichael