Sunday, August 03, 2008

Life Long Learning!

Whenever I wake up, I would have 5 things to thank God for. Count our blessings and name them one by one. My gratitude puts me in a happy and grateful frame of mind.

This morning I thank God for having led me to the toastmasters' movement, albeit at the age of 52 when I joined my company, Dennis Wee Group as a real estate agent! How I envy those who had the privilege of discovering this wonderful movement at a much younger age! Even more envied are those whose parents are toastmasters so that even at the tender age of 12, they are able to tag along when their parents attend club meetings!

I have never learnt so much as I have done during these 2 years of my toastmasters' journey. I have been invited by the then presidents, Helen and Edwin, to join the Braddel Heights Advance Toastmasters' Club, but had turned them down. After having completed 58 projects at my club, I felt I was ready and hence recently signed up as a member. I dislike joining a club and yet do not have time to attend most of club activities. Gosh, in just 3 weeks of joining the advance club, I felt I have learnt so much from the wonderful and more experienced members.

I decided that this year, I would not join the Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contest as I still have so much more to learn. Hence I volunteered to be a test speaker, because I can kill many birds with one stone as I would get immediate feedback on my speech! One needs to have skin that is at least 12 inches thick to be able to weather the blows of open constructive criticism that are arrowed by the 10 to 13 contestants. At the same time, some praises from the evaluators would be like a balm for the bruises from the blows.

I was torn between the choice of two possible topics, "The Power of Love" or "Lessons I Learn from Animals." I rehearsed the two speeches and my tenant, Jasmin, chose the first topic as he felt it would appeal more to the audience as more people would be able to relate to the topic.

I dislike the use of microphones. After testing my voice, both the Contest Chair and Toastmaster of the Day felt that I was loud enough. I was horrified when I was nearing the end of my speech and the green light was not turned on! "Help! How on earth did I shorten my three stories! Now I must quickly add another story!"

Just when I was half way through my fourth story the yellow light was turned on, and in a little while, horror upon horror! the red light was turned on. I needed to cut short my conclusion or I would be overtime! Phew, I ended at 7 minutes 30 seconds!

I enjoyed the sound and wonderful evaluation from the contestants. In that one afternoon alone, I learnt so much about making great speeches from the Humorous Speech and Evaluation contestants.

I also learnt that one must always give adequate preparation, and even practise with a timing device so that if the device should be faulty during the contest, one could just carry on with confidence because one had practised with the timing.

One of my toastmaster friends, Serene has given a good suggestion. During contests, it would be a good idea to have both an electronic timer as well as a manual timer of coloured cards. Timing is extremely crucial because speakers on stage are already stressed to a certain degree, and could be unnerved by faulty lightings.

For my readers who have yet to join a toastmasters' club, I would urge you to join so that you could begin your life long journey earlier!

Gan Chau

No comments: