Toastmasters : Impromptu Speech is Killing!

You have no idea what’s gonna come out. You go to the front, take a random pick, look what’s written on it, face the audience and there you go! Two minutes – TALK!

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Photo : Google

That’s how it is; the Table Topic session in every Toastmasters meeting. Scary as it sounds? Of courseee… It’s an impromptu speech, okay. You’re not prepared with anything. Like I said, it’s killing!

This is usually the first agenda of the meeting and knowing this, the moment I entered the meeting room, I would get butterflies in my tummy. It is volunteer-based but sometimes when there’s really nobody wanna raise their hands; the Table Topic Master will just point to anybody and if it’s YOUUUUUU. Hahhh…. Gotcha! Hahaha

That extreme feeling is usually for a first-timer. The more frequent you do this; you won’t actually have that stage-fright as bad as your first time. I can vouch this because that’s what I experienced too. I’m still scared now and still not very confident but I believe, I’m better now in that nervous department comparing to the early days.

So what’s so scary about it actually? Honestly to me, the most nerve-wracking part is that if I don’t understand the thing at all. I mean, if the vocab written has never been in my diction, how?? My God! What do I do thennn? Because the format can be vary. Sometimes it can be like a question for us to answer, sometimes a picture of something, it can also be a collection of idioms. Yea, idiom is tricky. It’d be funny if the thing is well-known by everyone but you. Huwarrr… Luckily this has never happened to me so far. Please don’tttt…!!

Most times, things sound much worse than they actually are. Now, what’s not scary about impromptu speech? Actually they say; you can talk about anything! Anything at all. Yes, there’s no rule on the content of your speech. If you don’t understand it fully or you just have no idea to talk about that particular topic, we can just divert the topic to anything related, anything on our mind.

For example, your pick goes like this –

Malaysia has reached 60 years of independence. What do you think makes Malaysia an independent country?

Urghhh…Suddenly you gotta be historical and factual. Worse if you’re not a patriotic citizen. Hahaha. So, what can you do? You can actually divert the topic but still related to the word “independence”. Why not talk about yourself as an independent person! Talking about yourself is the easiest thing you can do and in fact, it’s quite impactful. I mean, pick a strong point about yourself that you can share with the audience and believed, many can relate personally.

You can start like this –

“Yes, Malaysia is an independent country we all know but the question is, are we all independent enough? Like me, ……”

There you go with bla bla bla. Make sense?

And that’s what actually Table Topic is. It’s not really formal and the evaluation won’t be so critical. The whole purpose is to urgeeee to you take the challenge and just do it! And after all, it’s only two minutes guys! Two minutes is fast, trust me. After you have passed the challenge – well done or not so well done – I tell you, you will have this feeling of accomplishment that you did it!

Have you ever heard this –

“We more often regret those things which we do not do than those which we do.”

This is true enough to me. Every time when the Table Topic session was running, I must have these contemplating feelings playing on my mind –

“Should I?…. Should not?”
“Go?…… No?”
“This time?….. Next time?”

And while I was still fighting my fear alone in my seat; the session ended, six people have taken their shots and all the picks have been revealed. And me?? Left behind with a little regret cause I’ve been defeated by my coward self! Loooooooser!!

Ahhh…. I believe each of us has our own bucket list of things that we’ve been considering to do in life. We contemplate every day, we contemplate for years. Let’s not waste time. As long as it won’t compromise our faith and religion, do give ourselves a try because know that we have nothing to lose. Have your purpose, know why you do what you gotta do, and GO!

As for this speaking thingy, this is still my current constant battle that I’m struggling to overcome but now I know that above all, impromptu speech is NOT killing at all.

If you’d like to know the kind of topics that we have in our Toastmasters meetings, click here.

Till the next post,
SALZY

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Toastmasters : Ice Breaker Speech

This is a continuation post from the previous one. Feel free to read it first – Finding the Old Me

1st speech1

First and foremost, let me make an important disclaimer here. In the speech Finding the Old Me, I actually added a spoon of seasonings to enhance the flavor finely. Haha! Actually, the part that I said I spoke in front of many people – no, I did not speak in front of many people back then. The part that I loved to volunteer in class – no, I never volunteered in class. Hahaha…I exaggerated! Yes I was active with clubs and societies but I was just a regular committee and I just led small teams once or twice. And yes I enjoyed class presentations and yes my work life was right as described. My point was actually to distinguish these two positions so I exaggerated the U part a bit. Just a bit, mind me! Haha okay done with my confessions. Let’s move on to a more constructive discussion.

SPEECH WRITING

Ice Breaker speech is very basic. It’s talking about yourself so in terms of the contents, you don’t have to climb the Google mountain. The difference is how it’s being delivered. Through my observation in the meetings :

  • They talk about their lives based on chronology –  from the time they’re born to the present, highlighting significant facts along the way.
  • They pick only two or three things about them and they elaborate further.
  • They tell a story about an incident or an experience they went through and what they learned that made them who they are today.

I was interested with the second one and I also wanted to tell a story. And so that’s how it turned out.

PREPARATION & PRACTICE

I practiced a lot! Within two weeks prior to that, I acted in front of the mirror every single day. At first, I wrote my text and memorized it line by line but I found it so hard to flow. I sought advice from my hubby and a friend who are very associated with this speaking thingy and they told me not to memorize everything but just remember the points and structure and keep on practicing. I did just that! Thank guys.

TIPS & IDEAS

Okay these are random tips and ideas I scooped out from here and there that might be useful for you :

  1. Volunteer to speak during Table Topic sessions prior to the day as a practice to overcome your stage fright.
  2. Have a mutual interaction. Throw a question and self-answer. That would spare a pause for you to hold a moment.
  3. You may want to use the projector. Display interesting pictures of yourself and share the story behind them (e.g : pictures of you travelling to other countries)
  4. Describe yourself based on astrology, chinese zodiac or favourite colors.
  5. Tell the meaning of your name and elaborate the elements that make you you.
  6. Begin or end your speech with a quote.
  7. Conclude yourself in 3 words.
  8. Don’t forget to relate your stories with the audience. Offer something for them to take home.

EVALUATION

I was evaluated by the Mr. President himself. One good point I want to remember is that he said I began my speech with a big smile. Some people forgot to smile when in nervous state. So yes, smile! And these are some rooms of improvement for me to note :

  1. “Too much hand gestures.”
    This is the most obvious. That’s my habit anyway but during the speech, I even overdid it. Gotta watch these hands next time. The evaluator said, every gesture should be purposeful.
  2. “Too static.”
    I did not move.  I purposely did not move. When practicing, I tried to casually move a step or two but the risk is that I would get distracted and go blank at all. No way! So I glued my feet on the ground. Will practice on this later.
  3. “Less pauses.”
    Those who knew me in-person surely know that I naturally speak like a train. So this is what happened live. Actually I controlled this in my practice. I timed myself and every time it was all reaching 6 minutes. But on real play, my time recorded was only 5 minutes 17 seconds. I was speeding obviously. He reminded us to use the power of pauses for the audience to absorb what we say. Okay!

EXPERIENCE & FEELINGS

All in all, well done, self! I’m so glad I did it anyways. For once I broke through my fear, my self-doubt and timidity with this challenge and what I can say is, knowing my level and competency, I’m pretty satisfied with my first performance. Thank God, Allah eased my say. I’d less fumbles and most importantly I didn’t forget my script because I didn’t bring any notes with me. Because this is the first one, this is the best so far. Hahaha. Now, I’m on to the next. Bring it on!!

Till the next post,
SALZY

Toastmasters : Finding the Old Me

Hello everyone. On 29th of August 2017, I’ve done my first Project Speech at the Toastmasters. Here I’m presenting the text of my speech for anyone’s reference on Ice-Breaker topic and also for my own keepsake. After reading this, you’re welcome to continue reading my next post as I talked about my experience, tips learnt and some ideas for Toastmasters newbies to kick-off your shot. Click here.

Thank you Toastmasters of the Day and Good Afternoon everyone.
My Name is Saleha, and this is my first speech. It’s on ice-breaker, so I’m gonna tell you a little bit about myself.

First, let’s have a flashback to a time when I was in university, 10 years ago.
When I was a student, I was a really active student. I joined clubs and societies, I involved in events and programmes.
And these activities required me to speak in front of many people, give speeches and lead a team.

In class, whenever the lecturer said; “Anyone wants to volunteer?”
I would go… “Me!” I loved to volunteer in class!

And I loved doing presentations! You know in every subject we have assignments and we have to present our assignments? That was the time I looked forward to in every semester!
Well, not saying that I was so goood. But it’s just something that I enjoyed doing.

So… that’s a little bit about myself when I was in U. But that’s an old story. 10 years ago.

Later, after I graduated, I worked. I worked in a position that was….not presentation-oriented.
I didn’t have to speak in front of many people, I didn’t even involve in open communication.
Most of the time, I worked with the computer. And it was really busy it was all about work, work, work.
I didn’t have time to really join events or be a committee in programmes or be active.

So you can see the difference about myself and my life – when I was studying and working.
And I can say that, in about 8 years of my working life, I never really did a proper presentation.

Except one day. That was… in BP already. There was a group of Graduate Trainees, you know..some of you are GTs here.
So this group of GTs, they made rounds from department to department and they were coming to my department.
So my boss asked me to prepare a presentation for them regarding our job scope.
Just to give them a little exposure about our roles, what we do for the company and all.

So I was like… “Okay, no problem, I can do this.”

Buttt….on the day when I was about to present… I tell you, I was so nervous! So scared I was shaking so bad!
It was only 5 minutes simple presentation but my voice was like cracking all the way I couldn’t speak properly!
I tell you… It was a really, really baddd presentation!

So after the meeting I was like… what happened to me?? Why did I present like that?
I was thinking…these people are GTs. They’re juniors. I am senior. And I was just talking about my daily job so what’s the big deal??
It’s something that I know of, of course I’m good at it so why was I so nervous?? What’s so scary about that??

I felt so embarrassed with myself. I felt so embarrased with my own self!
Because, that was the time I realized that I have change… a lot…
From someone who was confident, well-verse. Now I become very timid and… not convincing at all.

So I thought…. I gotta do something! I gotta change myself I can’t stay this way. I wanna improve myself. I wanna find my old self!

But I was thinking… What do I do? What do I do to improve myself?

And suddenly one day, I met Alex (the TM President) at the Career Fair event that day and he explained to me about Toastmasters.
He explained to me on how it works and what it’s all about.
And I was like… oh, this is good. This is what I was searching for! This is the place I can improve my skills. This is the place… I can find the old me! Right….

So… this is why I’m here today. Speaking, in front of you, for the first time.
Taking the challenge, and making a pledge that I will improve myself.

This is my new beginning. Do you think I can do thisss? *Smile wait for the “YES” =D*

A little bit before I end my speech.

In life, always we hear people say that we have to move forward, move forward, never look back.
But to me, at some points of time, we really do have to take a break, pause for a moment.
Look back, and reassess ourselves. And see, how much different have we been?

Better? Or worse?
If better then good.
If there’s any quality in ourselves that we cherished, that is good… Keep it. Never lose it.

But happened to be, because time passed by and life changed from one phase to another. And we also changed.
We’ve become a different person. Someone we’re not proud of. Not like before.

So what do we do?
We do something, to gain ourselves back!

That’s all for today. Thank you very much everyone. Back to you Toastmasters of the Day.

Till the next post,
SALZY