“Story… Message… Gain…”
“Thank you for sharing your beautiful voice. You do sound like a deejay.”
I was asked by our club president to represent my club (again) for the upcoming impromptu speech contest. Without batting an eyelash, I said “Yes”.
It brought to mind how I started in toastmasters.
I was told to be reasonably good in prepared speeches where my evaluators would usually highlight my good voice projection and body language during evaluations. However, one thing that they cannot sugar-coat is my performance during table topics or impromptu speaking. I absolutely abhorred table topics because I was not good in organizing my thoughts instantly. I am an IT auditor, and I am trained to carefully plan and revise my work (several times) until I’ve met standards.
The first time I was called to participate is still vivid in my mind. “Mothers know best” was the topic given to me.
I can still recall how I responded. I just stood in front and stared at the far end of the room. Then, I said nothing, except “uhs” and “uhms” repeatedly — as if I was meditating. Then, the general evaluator, who probably saw the need to abet me, stood up. She gave me a reassuring smile and said:
“Story… Message… Gain…” <with pregnant pauses in between>
She said nothing in her evaluation except extending her admiration in my “beautiful” voice. <Her words, not mine.>
That experience made me return in the succeeding club meetings. However, it scared the hell out of me every time the meeting hosts would approach the table topics portion.
I would do what I could just to avoid participating in table topics — going to the toilet, staring at my shoes or looking up at the ceiling. Honestly, none of those worked. I find it weird and felt that the table topic masters were really intent on calling me most of the time. And, every time I would always stutter and talked incoherently.
One time, I approached one member who was really good in impromptu speaking. I wanted to know his secret because I wanted to overcome this awkward feeling. Besides, I have this image (in my mind) of myself winning in the district — speaking eloquently while mesmerizing my audience.
He shared that he started like me. He also shared how he overcame his issues. These included practicing everyday and by not opening your mouth without knowing how you want to end your piece. So taking a cue from his lead, I also practiced day-in and day-out. I tried my best to put his tips into practice. I would randomly select topics from a book of quotations and practiced repeatedly.
Then, several months after that fate played its tricks on me. The club president asked me to represent the club. After a lot of prodding, I said “Yes”.
I was really hesitant in joining, and not sure why I agreed to do it. Nonetheless, I was fortunate to win as the Area Champion. I did not win in the division but bagging the area championship was more than enough. I was so happy with that milestone because for me that was already unexpected. Imagine none of my club members went to witness my performance (except one who came in late). So when I announced to them that I bagged the area championship, they were all smiles.
Delivering my piece during the Area contest for Table Topics
Well, it was hard work paying off. I did practice — a lot. And my housemates can vouch how they would hear me practicing inside the confines of our bathroom.
Once again, I was invited to represent the club. And without hesitation this time, I agreed.
I am not sure what will happen in the coming contest. But honestly I don’t really care. All I want now is to just enjoy the experience. Anyway, it is tiring to be scared of the things that are unknown. Additionally, I still practice a lot because I know I am still really far from that desired image of myself.
So come contest day, I will do what I could and just have fun in the process. And whatever happens, I will still practice until I become who I picture myself in my mind.
And, that’s what I would like to leave to all you.
We all want to succeed. Bear in mind, however, that great things take time and effort.
You want to reach your desired destination, then do not stop until you get the result you desire. Push yourself. Let yourself evolve. Aim to never stop improving.
The most important is … be intentional with your actions. Every step that you are taking and planning to take should be aligned to where you want to be.
At the end of everything, I know that you will realize your aspirations.
PS: Featured Image is taken from https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/04/03/08/30/silhouette-1304141_960_720.jpg