Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend Triumph

Last Saturday, I evaluated a speech in the morning and participated in a Humorous Speech Contest in the afternoon. I got a ribbon as best table topic speaker in the morning and 2nd runner-up trophy in the afternoon contest. In the past, I would downplay these 'awards' because I felt that it was more like being the best amongst beginners. But I realize that I have set my standards too high and that I am really my worst critic. Looking back at my Toastmaster experience so far, I have received 4 ribbons for best prepared speech, 1 ribbon for best evaluator and a 2nd runner-up trophy in an evaluator contest. Not bad for the amount of time I have spent though I have done about 15 speech projects so far.

But is public speaking my strength? Strength is described as near perfect performance, achieved consistently. So I guess it's just a complementary talent to an underlying strength, perhaps to my learner or ideation (where one needs to think about topics for speeches) strengths. But the real value I think the programme has given me is to lose my shyness and self-centeredness. The experience is not really on public speaking but more on self confidence. It has provided me with episodes of self-analysis and doubt but it has given me focus and challenged my sense of purpose. To just do it and have the determination and resolve to do a speech. It achieves what Woody Allen used to say wherein to succeed, you just need to show up.

So the benefit of a Toastmaster's programme is really subtle. The demand from you is not only to improve your public speaking skills but also to remove self-doubt and timidness. So I dare say that it improves one's character. I must say that I have found myself in the Toastmaster's experience and I am only starting to enjoy the visits to other clubs and all the avenues of learning. Some of my friends wonder why I waste my time here and if I really need this experience. I guess I have no problems communicating on an intimate and personal level and I am good at this situation but I lack the public experience. I think it has a very subtle effect and I think it has made me a better person and writer.

(Note: I have place some photos of my last trip to Thailand where I attended an excellent puppet show.)

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