Sunday, January 25, 2009

Toastmaster Project 6: Vocal Variety

1. Use voice volume, pitch, rate and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message.
2. Use pauses to enhance your message.
3. Use vocal variety smoothly and naturally

Time: Five to Seven Minutes
The Force was with Me

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

I will never forget the date four years ago. It was my date with the UNKNOWN as I bravely trotted out with my two boys in tow. To minimise the number of mysterious unknown happenings, I had armed my two boys then aged one and three, each with a harness. Something like a haversack without the sack but with a leash that I held tightly with my two hands, so that these two hyperactive darlings would not run out of my sight, while I balanced my body with a real big haversack on my back.

Sending me off in this journey were my mother and my brother. We were at Singapore Changi Airport as my brother bidded me goodbye.

"Bye, big sister, see you in a year's time and may the force be with you"

My two children and I were on our way to Pennsylvannia in the United State of America. We were to be re-united with my husand, their father after two, long, weary months of tying up the loose ends in Singapore before we left this home country of ourselves for a year of family bonding in the United States where my husband was doing his post graduate studies. We were not rich but we had done our sums that we would be able to survive that one year without my pay. With monetary concerns settled, we figured out that we should stay together as a family.

After the Star Wars saga, the phrase "May the force be with you" was all rage in our family to wish each other luck. It was especially apt in this circumstance as I stepped out with my two young, boisterious boys - first time alone.

There was no direct flight from Singapore to my final destination - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvannia. With two children to contend with, I had made all necessary preparations - shipping all our essential stuff consisting a box of clothings and some toys a month in advance. Next, I had also planned for the easiest-within-budget flight from Singapore to my destination. We took the then still available economy seats in the Airbus by Singapore Airlines, the ONLY direct flight from Singapore to the United States. But ALAS, United States have 51 states. And as the big apple, New York is the financial hub
and not Pennsylvania, we needed to take a domestic flight from Newark International Airport to Pittsburgh, a small city in Pensylvannia.

So while the flight from Singapore to New York took 18 hours 30 minutes in physical time, it was really a breeze for me as we were in good hands. The friendly SIA staff greeted us by our first names.

"Good day, AC"

"Hi, P. This are some coloring materials and toys for you"

"Yes!!!" P cheered as his face lit up.

"Me too" R chorused.

"Hi R, would you want some Milo?" R nodded his head vigorously and greeted the SIA girl with a big smile.

Once the plane touched down, I was on my own again. Or so I thought. Oh gosh, the earlier flight was slightly delayed by 30 minutes! We were dashing for our next 2-hour domestic flight. But as Murphy's Law had predicted it all - all bad things came together. There was a long queue which we needed to pass for security check.

As each minute passed, my heart beat went a notch faster. Desperate, despairing, destitute, I was at my wits' end. But then, I remembered the FORCE! In order to be with the FORCE, one needed to be at peace. So I took a couple of deep breath. And I approached the Caucasian male in front.

"Excuse me sir, do you think you could let me go ahead of you as I am running out of time to catch another flight" I let out in a bullet-train speed.

"Oh sure." He smiled. "But do ask the person in front of the queue which will speed up things a bit for you" He further suggested.

"Thank you so much" I replied grasping my fists with gratitude.

The man in front was also a kind soul.

The gates were closing! With no time to lose, I grabbed my one-year old boy and released the harness on P and asked him to run and follow me quickly. I was carrying a big haversack on my back with my boy in front and running as fast as my legs could carry me in the bid to beat time. At the same time, I would turn my head to keep my elder boy in sight, calling out and signalling out to him to hurry up. That was the closest thing to competing in an Olympic race that I ever had.

We completed our race with flying colours. There were still people in the queue for our domestic flight. The gate had not closed yet.

The force must be with me. I could see spectacular bursts of delightful colours celebrating our triumph. I could see the people cheering for us as though we had won the Olympic games. We smiled and hugged each other tightly while gasping for breath all at the same time.

Toastmaster of the day.

1 comment:

Sarah Gershman said...

Great story to practice vocal variety. I am a speech coach and just posted about the very topic on my speaking advice blog -

It would be great to hear your feedback.

Good luck.