Pit against the best…

Pradeep impressed the judges at the area contest on 15 April, with his composed speech on table topic “When you pursue your passion, you feel pain and fulfillment”.  He would now represent the area (and Kampong Ubi Toastmasters) to clinch the division championship.

It was Jamie’s maiden contest.  Feeling nervous was understandable but she gave her best.  She looked so drained after the contest.  While she didn’t bag any award, it was a fruitful experience for her, I think.

Being the photographer, I was busy clicking the shutter with nary a moment resting my bum.  I would say I was one of the most hardworking appointment holders.  I was almost late, after going to the wrong venue, Queensway Secondary School, and had a problem after that finding my way to Queenstown Secondary School.

Queenstown Secondary School v Queensway Secondary School, could you tell the difference, especially when the latter is just two bus stops away from Queenstown Primary School.  It’s misleading.

Probably it’s my last appearance at Toastmasters contest. Being President of KUTMC, I must discharge my duty to support my members and look out for their interest at contest.  But when I am just an ordinary member, I would support them… mentally, but unlikely to make my way to the west and burn several precious hours on a weekend.

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I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Jamie who participated in International Speech and Table Topics contests won in both, being the victor and second runner-up respectively.

She touched the hearts of the judges with her speech entitled “Quit”.  Unlike conventional speeches that exalt the merits of persisting, she took on a different tag – quitting sometimes is necessary when the route doesn’t turn out to be what you had imagined.

I like Taichi’s Personal Best. It was peppered with humour, and the subject on besting ourselves in public speaking and other aspects struck a chord with me. Lynn thought he would win. But his non ra-ra style might have been under-appreciated.

Both Anthon and Tricia spoke on their personal tribulations, but they had different messages.  Anthon’s was about wedding lasts only a day but a marriage lasts a lifetime, and it won’t be a Disney’s story that always has a happy ending.  Tricia wanted us to volunteer ourselves and it might not be in a big way – as trivial as holding the door for someone whose hands might not be free.

Regardless of who won the contest, I appreciate their efforts.  They have helped me avert going down the history of Kampong Ubi Toastmasters as the president whose term saw no contest or contestants.

Thank you very much.

As for Table Topic contest, I selected the quote by Thomas Edison “I’ve not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

Suhas who has been with Toastmasters barely two months, emerged the first runner-up.  During the interview while the chief judge was tabulating the results, I asked Suhas who he thought would be the winner.  This young man was very honest and without much thinking said “Pradeep”. I told him, he should give a politically correct reply – Everyone’s a winner.

Pradeep, whom Suhas has considered to be the winner, came in victorious.

The results for the contests were as follows:

International Speech:

  1. Jamie
  2. Tricia

Table Topic Speech:

  1. Pradeep
  2. Suhas
  3. Jamie

In closing, I delivered this speech weaving in the titles of the four International Speech contestants and the Table Topic.

The contestants have made our day with their fabulous speeches, giving their personal best, though not every story was a Disney’s story.  While quitting is sometimes necessary, I hope all of you won’t quit public speaking, won’t quit contesting.

We’d try even if we have not won.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Lessons learnt

Afternoon, toastmasters and guests.

How to not win when one is clearly the best?  When rule’s been breached, yet one proceeds to take part in the contest.

We had the humorous and evaluation contests last Saturday for the area level. It’s not only managing one’s nerves and scripting a winning speech that I learned, but also other lessons.

When I saw the position of the timing device, I told the division director it’s hard for contestants to take note of the timing device located at the extreme end of the speaking space.

He said that judges were not supposed to take into account the timing in their  evaluation so the timing device had to be out of sight of the judges.

Jun aired his concern when contest chair mentioned at the beginning of the contest position of the timing device.

Pradeep had an issue with the position of the timing device as well.

Despite these, the contest carried on without the timing device repositioned.

Pradeep clearly was the best contestant in speech evaluation but he was disqualified as a result of busting the time limit.

I read the rulebook after that and it is stated “The signalling device must be in full view of each contestant”  and timing signals shall be clearly visible to the speakers but not obvious to the audience.

Apparently, the organising committee breached this rule. But because we did not take further action despite taking issue with the position of the timing device and Pradeep went on to take part, we were at fault as well.

What are the lessons learned here?

1. Don’t compromise if you have a legitimate issue, even if it means you give up the opportunity. As president of this club, I would support and respect your decision.

2. Familiarise yourself with the rules and refer to the rulebook when in doubt.  I should have done this when I brought up the issue before the contest started but I trusted others instead.

Michael Phelps said nobody is happy to lose but he was very gracious when he lost to Joseph Schooling.

To me, taking part in contests, the means to the end is that matters.

It might be easy for me to say this because I wasn’t a contestant. But i  think the ultimate question is, have you done your best. If the answer is “yes”, you are a winner no matter what.

Speech Contests

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The club organised its speech contests today and there were four contestants in both International Speech and Table Topics Speech.

I admire the contestants for their courage in participating and talking in front of not only members but visitors who helped to serve as judges.

Taichi spoke about a book he read on Hardest Problem Ever and it’s related to pythagoras theorem. This was so Taichi, his speech topics are always scientific/mathematical.

Pradeep took the inspiring route – I have observed this as a favourite genre of Toastmasters’ speeches – and recounted how he made it as a lawyer and urged us to scale the Mt. Everest in us in his speech entitled Right to Dream the Impossible Dream.  Pradeep has not only scaled the Everest in the pursuit of his legal studies but won the championship in this contest.

Lynn talked about a mother teaching her daughter to exhibit the traits of coffee beans in the face of adversities, turning the unfavourable situation into your favour.  I was the only one who admitted to being a carrot, weakening when encountered challenges.

Mentor  Anthonious’ speech Less is More won him first runner-up.

Table Topic: What’s your greatest fear?

I was impressed by Taichi and Jamie for being able to relate the topic to public speaking. What an apt subject to talk about.  I thought Taichi spoke well and would have won. What a shame but I saw the improvement in him.  And I admire his consistency in delivering his projects.

Congratulations, every participant,  whether you have won or not.  Your effort matters.

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