Sunday, October 26, 2008

Toastmaster Project 3 : Get to the Point

Usually, I will try to draft my script "one project" earlier with ideas from my recent day-to-day experiences.

Change of Plan

I have already drafted my script for Project 3 and am reading the objectives for Project 4 "How to Say it". There are three main objectives, namely, 1. Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate ideas clearly, accurately and vividly; 2. Use of rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasize ideas; and 3. Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words and to use correct grammar.

It would seem to me that something descriptive would be good as a topic for Project 4 which my earlier script for Project 3 would be very suitable. Of course, with some enhancements taking into account the objectives for Project 4.

So, I am back to drafting another script for Project 3. The revision for Project 4 will come later.

Back to the objectives for Project 3:
1. Select a speech topic and determine its general and specific purposes.
2. Organize the speech in a manner that best achieves those purposes.
3. Ensure te beginning, body and conclusion reinforce the purposes.
4. Project sincerity and conviction and control any nervousness you may feel.
5. Strive not to use notes.

Time: 5 - 7 minutes

To Be Better Than I Was Yesterday

Good evening Club President, District Officers, fellow toastmasters, friends and guests,

"Hi, I am Uzumaki Naruto. I live to be the next Hokage of Konoha."

Naruto is a popular Japanese Anime series, revolving around the life of a boy, a ninja - Uzumaki Naruto. Naruto lives in a ninja village, Konoha. As a little boy, he is shunned and detested by the villagers. Because his body sealed Kyubi or the nine-tailed fox in English, which is an evil demon fox with great fury and power that wreaked much damage to the village a long time ago.

To prove himself worthy of love and admiration, Naruto has a dream - to be the next Hokage, the strongest ninja in the village of Konoha. Though he is clumsy and not very bright, he has a will of steel. Through his fierce determination and hard work, he has time and again proven others wrong - finding the light at the end of the tunnel when others have given up hope. Turning mission impossible into mission possible and into mission accomplished.

Like Naruto, I wasn't a good public speaker when I was young. I was terrified, pertified and horrified to speak even among friends, let alone on stage.

I can still remember vividly a scene more than 20 years ago. Yes, 20 years ago when I was in Secondary School and asked to read a passage aloud in class.

"How do you say "TV" in full?"
"It is 'aid' not 'AIDS' - the HIV disease"

The whole class burst out laughing. But not me, to me, this was not humor but humiliation. If there were a hole then, I would sink my head in it like an ostrich.

The stern voice of my English teacher still resonated in my mind. I could not pronounce the word "television" and I always added "s.." after every word. My classmates commented that I had a strange slang.

I felt discouraged and my first inclination was "avoidance". Try not to speak as far as possible. After all, the more I talked, the more mistakes my mouth would sprout out.

In fact, one of the reasons that I chose to do Mathematics was that I didn't have to use English so much. In Mathematics, I used not English but "Symbolish" - the language of symbols - things like infinity or a very large countable number, delta - a small change and etc. Hurray, that was my ultimate escapee from public speaking!

Then, I completed my formal education and progressed into the university of life. I found poor pronunciation a hindrance in communicating with my colleagues. Worse, I would have cold sweat and many sleepless nights whenever I needed to do a presentation. Each blunder just reinforced my belief that I was just not cut out for it.

It was fate that I took a year of sabbatical leave to stay in the United States. There, I met Naruto in Cartoon Network, a Television channel. His grit and determination impressed me. With more time in my hands, I began to learn phonics. To practise my pronunication skills, I read aloud every night without audience, after my kids were aslept.

When I returned to Singapore, I continued with my quest to improve my spoken English - both through self-study - picking up difficult words and try to pronounce, and also actively sought out pronounciation courses. Of course, knowing how to say it right is one thing, and saying it right in front of an audience is another.

So I trawled the internet and found toastmaster club. Here, I found a group of like-minded people coming together to improve our public speaking skills.

The club has given me a lot of encouragement and opportunities to talk, like for today. Though I am still a pretty young member, I have gained much confidence.

With this new-found confidence, I have in July this year, together with some of my colleagues, involved in a 15 minutes skit for my company. I was the script-writer, narrator and actress in the skit. The most memorable role was that of the narrator, where I addressed on stage in front of a 400 or so strong audience.

From a girl who has difficulty pronouncing the word "television", I have come a long way. I first started by avoiding to do public speaking. Then I found courage to face and conquer the fear.

From Naruto, I learn to dream again, to dream to become a good public speaker, to be better than I was yesterday.

Hi, my name is Aileen Chua. I live to be a better speaker than what I was yesterday.

Toastmaster of the Evening.

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