Musings

My project speech research was going nowhere – despite almost a month of racking my brain and googling for ideas.

The next best thing I thought I should do is to tackle the Table Topics and so I did. While it wasn’t the first time I did an impromptu speech, I decided I should read up on how I should structure this think-and-speak-on-your-feet speech. I won’t improve if I keep committing the same mistakes and I feel my speeches aren’t structured.

According to the tips available online, one can use PREP format: Point, Reason, Example and Point. Alternatively, it’s the 1H and 5Ws structure.

I understood.

When the Table Topics segment began, I wrote the PREP structure on the back of the programme sheet.

Alas! When I was at the lectern, I just blurted out whatever came to my mind, throwing PREP to the wind.

Today’s topics are toasting to the subject one drew on.  My subject was Jun and I should have first introduced him for the benefit of the guests who were late and didn’t hear the opening address by Jun.

I commended him on being a great leader, using some of the contents of his opening address – better communicator, leader and collaborator.

I related the incident when I was left out in the group chat, resulting in me turning up when there was no meeting.  Jun apologised to me at the following meeting.

Before attending today’s meeting, I decided I would speak during the Table Topics segment. Though I somewhat wavered when the segment began, I was glad I didn’t back out.

Here I was, out of my own volition – as was every Toastmaster – forgoing our Saturday afternoon where we could be at the beach – putting in effort to hone public speaking skill, I’d better seize every opportunity.

Jun cited the example of Taichi, who wanted so much to improve his skill that he has the honour of being the Table Topics King.  And he speaks clearly with confidence nowadays. Not forgetting that he has been consistently delivering his prepared speeches, completing ten of them in a year. I shall look up to him and strive to be the Table Topics Queen, at least.

During the 1 minute 48 second impromptu speech, I had several pause -fillers (three Ahs, one Um, two Rights and one OK) and I think this is unacceptable given that it was a short speech. But I don’t know how I can remove these fillers.

This is where I hope Toastmaster, meetings would help shed some light. As I have written, we will not improve despite numerous practices because we don’t know how to do it. So, one must complement one’s attendance at the meetings with reading and watching YouTube on the techniques one can learn and employ.

Besides remembering to use a structure for my Table Topic speech, I must remind myself to greet the attendees. I didn’t realise I had forgotten to do it until visiting Toastmaster, Gideon, spoke as a General Evaluator though he didn’t mention my oversight.

We had a couple from South Korea among the guests and the man who introduced himself as BK started the Table Topics speeches rolling by being the first to volunteer a speech. His passion and courage to speak in front of strangers were admirable. Perhaps when I am overseas, I would visit a local club to see how things are done.

Gideon didn’t beat about the bush when it came to general evaluation and there was a lot of room for improvement, going by his evaluation, which Jun said we must have become blindsided over time.

The areas for improvement:

* start on time; we can have a 10-minute buffer but having 2pm-2.10pm for Registration & Fellowship

* tidy up the room

* use black/blue ink instead of red because words written in the latter aren’t visible to the people seated at the back

* proper attire – no singlets or slippers

* when Toastmasters or guests are speaking, others shouldn’t move around so that they will not distract the speakers

On the point of starting the meeting on time, when we were having exco meeting, Jun shared that he once asked why Taichi always turns up at 1pm, a whole hour before the meeting and Taichi’s reply was “I’m Japanese”. Kudos to the Japanese for respecting other people’s time and Taichi for exemplifying this Japanese strength, just like the public transport precise schedule, and not do as the Romans or for that matter Singaporeans do. I don’t like to be late either because I would get flustered and stressed out.

There were only Jamie and Tricia delivering prepared speeches. Tricia shared the defect her son has and talked about cleft lip for her project seven. I have been resisting talking about my own experience as I feel naked if people know too much about me. In fact, I had wanted to be low key about my occupation initially.

Jun when evaluating Tricia’s speech, reminded her to use genderneutral term such as parent and not mother because there were males among us. For me, this is a point to bear in mind for future speeches.

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BK, guest Table Topics speaker, from South Korea.

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