Sunday, September 7, 2008

Toastmaster Project 2: Organize your Speech

Objectives :
1. Select an appropriate outline which allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech
2. Make your message clear, with supporting material directly contributing to that message
3. Use appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another
4. Select a strong opening and conclusion

Time : 5 to 7 minutes

Run For Your Life

Good afternoon Club President, District Officers, fellow toastmasters, friends and guests.

During the Beijing Olympics Games, everyday as I watched the competition, whenever an athlete outperformed the rest, the athlete would put his or her fist at the chest. Prod it. Pound it. Punch it.

You cannot hear it but in your mind you know that the athlete is shouting “I have done it!” You cannot see it but you can feel it in an athlete’s performance. You cannot touch it, but when an athlete’s heart beats for excellence, you know.

And every time, I watched the Games I was inspired by the attitude - “to give everything I have got”. It is this attitude that push them to add an extra centimeter to a throw, or slice 5 micro-second, if every fibre of being is invested in the task.

Seeing the athletes at work made me decide to unleash the sportswoman in me and to push myself to work harder in my exercise regimen, to run faster – to run for my life as if I were being chased by some ferocious tigers.

Now, before the Beijing Olympics Games, I have already been pretty successful with maintaining a regular exercise routine. However, I must confess that it was not easy for me to exercise consistently. In fact, it was an uphill task. This is because we, humans are creatures of habit. After completing formal education where Physical Education was compulsory, I adopted a laissez-faire attitude towards exercise – if I wanted to exercise, I would. Otherwise, no. And what happened? I was always finding excuses not to exercise. Things like I was too busy. I had no time. Or I was tired. Then six years ago, I decided to be serious about it. But even then, my exercise routine was sporadic to say the very least. I would exercise once – at times only for 15 minutes and stopped for a few months before trying to find my momentum again. At such erratic pace, it was not surprising that my health was not very good. And I used to fall sick easily and having long spells of cold and cough which ran into weeks. I felt lethargic, tired – in short, terrible. My quality of life dropped.

So how do I manage to establish the routine? It was through participating in sports event. Two years ago, I joined a one-day program at the Outward Bound School. It was supposed to be a sampler of the full-fledged 21-day program – where you will do things like canoeing, flying fox, rock climbing and etc. We went through seven mini-exercise stations. After the first station, I was already dog-tired and it was a really nightmare for me to persist until the last station. It was at this program that I met a man pushing 50 years of age, in a pink of health and boy, he was cool. The seven stations were no sweat to him. So I asked him why he was able to do that. He told me simply “Exercise”. Hey, but how you were able to find time. He then told me that he would go to the gym at 7 am, exercise for an hour before heading to his office by public transport. It then dawned on me if I have to find time to find excuses, I should have time to exercise. Today, I exercise three times a week during my lunch hour. As I have mentioned earlier human is a creature of habit, once I manage to establish this routine, I will feel weird if for any reason I miss an exercise session. Somehow, I will then find some ways to do.

My next step is after watching the Olympic Games, I decide to bring my exercise regimen to a higher level. But being a lesser mortal, I do not aspire to be the next Shelly Ann Fraser, the fastest woman on earth. I just want to outperform myself. To do this, I go on an incremental approach. I first pushed myself to run up to 3 km before slowly building up to 4 km per session. Timing was not crucial as I wanted to first build up my distance tolerance. It was only after I was able to complete 4 km run consistently that I focused on the timing. In a sense, this approach takes major pressure off me and yet puts improvement on a comfortable auto-pilot mode. I am proud to say that in August this year, I have also run my own Olympic – participating in my company’s work-life run and I have completed 2.4 km in my personal best record time at 14 minutes and 10 seconds. That’s not all. After that, I set a new time target of below 14 minutes and have since met it.

I am sharing with you my experience as I hope to inspire you to also “run for your life” - take charge of your health. The same strategy of “participating in sports event” and “setting incremental targets” could also be adopted in our toastmasters’ journey. The first strategy is to do more toastmaster projects and participate in our club meetings. And the second is to set incremental targets, say to do one project every two month. In this way, slowly but surely, one day, we will become good toastmasters, with rosy cheeks.

Toastmaster of the Day.

No comments: