Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Toastmasters International Speech Contest 2017

Toastmasters Club - A non-profit organization which provides a platform for members to practice public speaking. 
Now I actively involve in the world largest professional club - Toastmasters Club of Singapore.

Toastmasters Club organizes International Speech contest annually. It is the Olympics of Public Speaking and a highly regarded competition. The contestants will first compete at Club level before moving on to Area, Division, National, Regional, Semi-Final and Final. The most exciting part is, the Semi-Final and Final are organized in Vancouver, Canada

Even though it is not USA, I want to GO!!! Hahaha 

This is my dream, and I take action by participating in the contest. Honestly, I have never been so serious in preparing a speech. I wrote my draft one month before the contest date, sought mentor-ship, practiced more than 50 times. I even practiced in my mind before I shut myself down on bed. 
It took quite some efforts I would say, but not torturing. 

I really didn't expect I could win anything after knowing all the finest speakers in our club signing up the contest. The contestants included the previous World 2nd Runner Up. But still, I hoped miracle to happen. So I just tried my best. 

Do you want to know what is my speech content and how is my performance that evening?
Click the Video below: 

Watch on Youtube

I talked about "Never Try, Never Know". This is a topic which resonates with me a lot because I am about going to try something new and shocking to the others. 

Anyway, Thanks God everything was smooth and I had delivered what I could just as I expected. I thought I was fine as my delivery was at my 100%. 
That's before I listened to others. 

After listening to a few, I knew I stand no chance. 
Firstly, I was the first to present, nobody's going to remember me unless others were way too lousy. 
Secondly, other speakers were 300% more humorous and speech contents were 300% better than mine.
Thirdly, I just knew I was at the losing edge. 

Well, after the final speaker who was the previous World Second Runner-Up, I knew I would bring back nothing. 

Hahaha. Ok I wrote in a too negative and sad way. 

True enough, they won everything and left nothing to me. Oh ya, I got a participation certificate! Yay!!! (OK I slap myself)



Even though many people complimented my performance considering that was my first time, I am not really happy. I know myself, I am not that kind of person who won't mind defeats. So I have decided to write this blog to record down what I can do better to improve myself and minimize the gap between me and the giants (Those winners!!! Angry!!! lolll joke lah)

Three main points here:

1. Humor 
Humor is an important element in a speech as it can engage, enchant and entertain the audience including the judges. The harder the audience laugh, the more the audience enjoy. Humor can arouse audience attention too, at least they won't look at their hand phones.
I did include humor in my speech, more to actions and vocal variety types, e.g. funny actions. But the others created humor through the structure, content and language. 
For example, "My wife asked me to bring my kids to Disneyland, but I was scared of roller coaster. At the end, my kids happily followed me because I scared my wife more "
"Inspirational speaker loves to say if you follow your dream, anything is possible. So I am inspired and decide to follow my dream. Since young, I dream to get pregnant"

These speakers are so humorous until they can make the audience laugh throughout at least 80% of their speeches. The most important thing is - they manage to convey their speech message at the same time. This is definitely not EASY!
Perhaps I should watch more comedies so that I can learn how to crack better and damn funny jokes in English. Choices of words, twisting of sentences, cheeky expressions and so on.
Yup, I believe sense of humor can be nurtured, it just needs practices!
So I will continue my humorous speech projects in Toastmasters. Hopefully I will be able to craft a humorous yet meaningful speech very soon.

2. English Language
English language is my second language. I converse in Mandarin most of the time. But I do read, speak and listen a lot to English. Just that I still can't speak like a pro! Is this called language learning barrier? lol
Normal business presentation is not an issue at all. But when come to storytelling, I believe I need a boost! The structure, the choice of words and etc. I need to improve myself on these so that I can be more inspiring,convincing, engaging and entertaining. Ah! Creativity is one important element too. But good language is needed to ensure the creativity is well presented.
OK. Lots of things to improve.
The approaches to improve, undeniably, are to listen more and read much more. Perhaps story books or novels. So that I get used to writing stories and being able to narrate in better ways.

3. Delivery
To me, others are more natural in their delivery. Perhaps they speak English most of the time, unlike a mandarin speaker here (⟶ me). They crack jokes so naturally, I suppose they master the rhythm. Every language has its rhythm when it comes to speaking, like a melody of a song.
Pronunciation, enunciation and intonation come along closely if we want to deliver a good speech. Mistakes in these can confuse the audience and disconnect them from following the speakers.
I am glad that my 50 times practices and my mentors help a lot on this.
Still I find my delivery a little bit not natural. Do you feel so?
I don't know la. I just feel such way.
So the only way, again, is practice! I should give more speeches in the club then. LOL!


But I shouldn't feel so negative, after all this is my first time.
I am satisfied that everything goes smoothly, good body language, no nervousness at all, good audience engagement despite being the first speaker.
Thanks all those good and encouraging words from some members too.

True enough, there are huge gaps between me and the giants.
But I shall not give up and one day, I will be one of the giants too!

Fighting!

Finally the days of memorizing script are temporary OVER! hahaha. 

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