Contest Season

Contributed by Sonja Bonin, April 12, 2019

“Only the contest made me a poet, a sophist, an orator”, said Plato, one of the greatest thinkers in European history. If I may add my own humble experience: only the contest(s) made me a full member of the Toastmasters family.

For the second season now, I’ve had the privilege of taking part in some excellently organized TM competitions in and around Zurich. I’ve been a judge, a tie-breaking judge and a contest chair. I’ve served in more prominent (guest speaker) and more mundane roles (such as printing dozens of participation certificates). And I’ve heard some extraordinary people give some extraordinary speeches – in a hand-full of languages, I might add.

What impressed and inspired me most was how the clubs pulled it all off: with lots of preparation, energy and, most importantly, team-work.

One club that kindly invited me as a target speaker (Rhetorik Club Zurich) held their club contest AFTER and in addition to their regular meeting! My own club, Zuriberghosted not only their own club contest but also the area contest in SIX disciplines: German, International, Italian, French, Table Topics and Evaluations! An incredible feat which could only be accomplished because a seasoned bunch of people came together, prepared well (using some outstanding TM resources), and made it happen. It’s almost impossible to screw up if there’s so many kind people around you who have your back and take up the slack if needed.

I can highly recommend this experience. Start as a spectator tomorrow at the district level competition in Oerlikon (link to: and perhaps at the Spring District Conference in Genoain May or even the world championship in Denver, Colorado in August. And then step out of your comfort zone and start contributing: as a competitor or as an organizing team member or both.

I wish all Zurich competitors good luck and a lot of fun and learning along the way to Genoa. And I look forward to speaking in the next competition season in 2020. Who knows, maybe it’s going to turn me into a real poet, sophist, orator …? 

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