Despite the fact that the Hilton pillows are trying to kill me by being too darn soft and smooshy, I still had to haul my carcass out of bed at 6 am (yes, that’s 3 am Phoenix time) for a contestant briefing. (Note to self: Add the contest officials to my gratitude journal. In the “special” color ink.)
I met some really nice people at the briefing. My semifinal is definitely the fun group. There are several people in the group who have been to regionals or semifinals before, and they are chomping at the bit to move up to the big stage this year. I’d like to hate them for being in my semi, but they’re just too darn nice!
I was disappointed to learn that there will be no DVDs of the semifinals this year due to some bad behavior surrounding use of the DVDs from previous years. I can buy the On Demand package to watch for a year, but after that, it will be like it never happened. Bummer!
The set up of the room for my semifinal is very strange. It’s a long, narrow room with a center aisle. The stage is almost entirely in front of the seats on house right. I guess the people sitting in the house left just don’t get to spend much time connecting with us. I consulting with my blocking guru, Rose – our immediate past District Governor, and she said, “Just do the blocking you were planning on. I just have to hope that the judges are all seated house right.
The reason the stage is over to one side is because there is a giant screen in front of house left. There is some hope that we may be shown on the screen, but no one can say for sure if it is going to be possible or not. They are going to try it in the first semi-final (which is running right now), and if it works, then they should have the bugs worked out by the time my semi-final starts in 5 hours or so.
We drew for speaking position, and I drew the Ace of Clubs. That means I’m going first. There is an inherent tendency for judges to keep the score low for early speakers to leave room for higher scores with the later speakers. This means I have got to really wow them so that there is no comparison between me and the following speakers. No pressure!
I grabbed an early lunch and then listened to my self-hypnosis CD. Then it was into wardrobe for a dress rehearsal. Our contest chair is from India (I think) and seems to be a very nice gentleman. He reviewed the line up, name pronunciation, and speech titles, then ran to introduce an educational session.
Then it was time for the sound checks. We each got 2 minutes (no traditional Toastmasters 30 second grace period) to play on the stage, show off our loudest and softest moments, and to see how their timing system works. They are using a timed power point as a timer and light.
I’m back in my every day clothes now wondering if 3 pm is too early for dinner. If I eat now, by the time my semifinal is over at 9 pm, I’ll be ready to eat a horse again. What with the adrenalin, I’ll probably be ready even earlier than that. I might as well just get it over with, eh?
My next post will be about the results. Here we go!