Since June, I have been involved with Toastmasters. I like the atmosphere and the way it encourages people to improve their public speaking skills. Toastmasters holds contests regularly, and I recently joined an evaluation contest through the group. It’s a unique contest because it’s not about giving a speech. Instead, it’s about evaluating a speech. There is a test speaker, and the contestants have to give two to three minutes evaluations of the speech. Evaluation was something new to me. Prior to the contest, I had given just one evaluation at my club, and it was horrible. But then I made some preparations and managed to win the club-level contest. I proceeded to the area-level contest and was lucky enough to win it. I eventually lost at the division-level contest though.
What do you think the main ingredient of a brilliant performance is? The performance here could be a presentation, an exam, a piece of writing, or something else. What do you think the key is that can make or break it? The answer, I believe, is preparation. Preparation is what makes the difference between great and mediocre performances. Eric Buttterworth put it well: Behind every brilliant performance there were countless hours of practice and preparation.
Like it or not, stress is a potential problem for all of us. Stress can reduce your quality of life. It can also reduce the quality of your relationships. That’s why it’s important that you learn how to avoid stress. The key to avoid stress, I believe, is this: live with margin. Margin is the difference between your maximum capacity and the capacity you use. Living with margin means living below your maximum capacity.