Category Archives: toastmasters

Toastmasters Humorous Speech contest tomorrow

Searching the Net for tips on Toastmasters humorous speech competitions, I ran across Steve Pavlina's blog entry about his division's humorous speech contest last year.

So if you ever find yourself running up against your limits in some area of your life, see if you can find someone who’s already pushed past that limitation in their own life.

I'm looking forward to the contest!

Survived my first Toastmasters speech!

I survived the ice breaker!

I had drafted talks for all sorts of things: lifehacking, the Philippines, even the weather. None of them seemed to fit. Then Pierre Duez of IBM CAS suggested that I talk about pets. Come to think of it, he may have been joking. Anyway, I told myself, it's the ice breaker. They don't mind non-serious topics. They want to get to know who I am.

Right. I could get away with a story about my cat. I threw together the talk in the corridor. I knew I could tell plenty of stories about Neko, who's quite a character. I picked a couple, came up with a nice beginning and a nice ending, and went for the thing.

I had so much fun bringing a few laughs from my seasoned audience. They weren't belly laughs or anything, probably just I-know-what-you're-talking-about laughs. But that was good. I wasn't sure how reactive people were because the past few talks were mostly serious, but it was fun.

It was my first time with a U-shaped arrangement. I don't like having anything between me and my audience. I stepped in front of the lectern, but I didn't know what to do about the hulking large projector in the middle of the room. I ended up going in front of it, which cut off eye contact with the people on the ends of the U. Doug Vowles suggested that I move all the stuff out of the way next time. I still have to figure out how to properly do blocking for U-style arrangements.

I remember how the all-around stage we performed Junto al Pasig was an interesting blocking challenge in grade 4. I should read up on theatrical blocking for plays in the round, and maybe ask Tita Naty and Mrs. Castillo as well...

I also need more lead-up to the punchline. I told them about ensuring my cat's safety in the household by telling my parents I'll petition my cat and my cat can petition them. ;) That went by too quickly because I was already overtime. Hmm, must work on my timing.

I say "like" way too much. Must work on my filler words next time.

I also need to work on my resonance. (Err, must find out what they mean by that, too. Yes, voice. But how?)

Whee... =D

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Toastmasters is fun

I attended another Toast I.T. meeting today. The table topic set by Natasha was a bit of a stretch for me. If I was in the elevator with the CEO of my company, what would I say? Other people naturally brought up small talk examples from real-life situations. You know me and small talk. I'm not going to disrupt the silence by asking about the weather! Grasping at straws, I ended up doing half of a conversation where I played an eager employee asking for more responsibilities.

I have no idea why people thought that was the best table topics speech. But hey, I love speaking, and I'll do it at the drop of a hat... <laugh>

My icebreaker speech is coming up next week. I'm going to have so much fun preparing for it! =)

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Toast IT

Charo and the others have been telling me to join the Toastmasters for the longest time. After sifting through a number of Toronto-based groups, I finally settled on Toast I.T., which meets every Tuesday a few blocks away from school. I attended my first meeting as a guest, and I had tons of fun.

For the table topics game, we had one minute to prepare and one minute to present. Topics were randomly drawn from an envelope, and people could pass if they wanted to. Everyone would vote, and the winner would have the privilege of keeping the club trophy/mascot for the meeting.

Tonight's topic: superpowers.

The table topics master started the game going. His superpowers were encyclopedic knowledge and lightning-fast computation, and he made us laugh by pointing out all of the everyday things that such superpowers would solve. At what point does buying a transit pass make more sense than buying tickets individually? How much would you need to pay for gas in order to get somewhere? How much would you have to pay in taxes? I'm sure he was thinking on his feet, but he was thinking so quickly that the words flowed as smoothly as in any well-prepared speech.

The group was surprised when I chose to rise to the challenge of public speaking. I guess most guests are terrified of speaking in front of a crowd of strangers. My superpower was the ability to win beauty contests. I wracked my brain for a good use for that and I couldn't find any, but here's sorta what I came up with: (can't remember that clearly)

I'm five feet one-fourth inch tall—and that one-fourth inch is very important, mind you. I have glasses and pimples. But it doesn't matter, because I've got a superpower. I can win any beauty contest I want. (pause) Who'd have figured? I love using my superpower to make a point... and it certainly helps me promote my projects!

Back in the Philippines, there was an IT pageant. A search for role models. (pause) The application asked for, of all things, bust size, waist and hip measurements. (pause and shrug) With my A-cup, my waist—let's not even talk about my hips—I could go right in there, win the thing... and _then_ show them that it's not how you look but what you _do_ that counts.

Much fun. =)

There was a girl who could catch and control fire, a guy who could produce gadgets from somewhere, an old man who said that a forcefield would be incredibly useful for deflecting the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes—or rotten tomatoes and lettuces from other Toastmasters on the occasion of a really bad speech...

Good stuff! I voted for the forcefield guy because he was funny. =) The sergeant-at-arms was happy to announce that someone had won by a landslide...

... but not as happy as I was. ;) Well, that made my day. I can't wait to go to the next one!

私は父からコンピューターゲームがあたえられた。 I was given a computer game by my father.

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Public speaking and mentoring

Steve Pavlina wanted to become a professional speaker. He didn't know much about the business side of speaking, but he found a mentor who helped him get the hang of things.

I WANT TO BE A PROFESSIONAL SPEAKER.

I love sharing ideas with people. I love bringing my enthusiasm and my passion to a hall and infecting as many people as I can. I love learning about presentation techniques and fascinating ideas. I love getting people to think. Besides, speaking is a great way to get to meet other fascinating people. I've made friends and learned about opportunities at post-conference dinners.

I love attending workshops and conferences, even for things that I don't immediately need. My conference notes focus more on speakers' delivery styles than actual technical content. My books aren't about programming in Java or writing HTML, but business and public speaking.

I love the challenge of providing value to a whole hall of people. As a wet-behind-the-ears teacher, I've presented alternative teaching techniques in front of veteran educators. I've talked about technology in front of students and professionals. I've survived the scrutiny of a college classroom.

I've had my bad days. Unresponsive audiences. Technical problems. Lackluster content. All of those things just keep pushing me to learn more, practice more, be better.

I've been giving presentations for four years. I've turned talks into articles and blog posts into presentations. I want to learn more. I want to entertain people the way Dean Alfar made hundreds of people laugh during the iblog.ph summit. I want to teach and inspire people the way Zig Ziglar and other business speakers do.

I want to share what other people and I have learned. I want to talk about education. Productivity. Technology. I want to raise questions. I want to provoke thought and action.

I can learn by watching people at conferences. I can learn by listening to audiobooks. I can learn by reading transcripts, artciles and books. But if I could find someone to mentor me, who knows how much faster I'll learn and how much more value I can give right away?

Who are the best speakers you know? Would they be willing to mentor a geek more than willing to swap technical knowhow for presentation mentoring?

そのコンピュータは大変役にたった。 The computer was very useful.

Renan says:

there's always the toastmaster's club. there should be one in the philippines; since you're moving to canada, there should be one too. find one that suites your needs. some are topical; for example, some talk of nothing but politics, others are free-form and tackle whatever topic the member brings in. i attended a couple of these, and it did help. bucause of schedule conflict, though, i had to quit.

it toastmaster's international (toastmasters.org) is not for you, there's always the speech class. i have a friend who was a communications major in college and he told me they had a class on public speaking where each one of them give a speech on different topics—-impromptu, extemporaneous, a eulogy, acceptance speech, etc.

of course, as you said, you can learn a lot by listening to people, especially charismatic speakers, and learn about the psychology of it.

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