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Toastmasters is fun

| speaking, toastmasters

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

| speaking, toastmasters

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!

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Public speaking and mentoring

| speaking, toastmasters

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?

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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