Saturday, December 25, 2010

Interview with a Public Speaking Champion: Stephen Michael Lumanlan

They say that speakers are born, not made. But from what I have seen and experienced as a Toastmaster, that is simply not true. Speaking is an art that has to be honed with practice over time. Some people may have a knack for speaking but no one is born a good speaker. Effective communication is a skill that has to be developed. I have been a Toastmaster for almost two years now and I have seen many speakers deliver speeches, both in club meetings and competitions. Some of them were obviously beginners while some were seasoned public speakers. I have been to two Toastmaster District Conferences. In 2009 it was held in Marco Polo Hotel, Davao. This year (2010) it was at Bohol Plaza. If you have never been to a District Conference before I’m telling you it is one of the best experiences ever. The venue, the people and most especially the competition itself is really something else.

A lot of people ask: What does it take to become a public speaking champion? Having joined a few speaking competitions I have pondered over this question myself. What sets champions apart from the rest? How do they prepare for the competition? What set of rituals do they follow? To answer these questions I decided to interview the 2010 Public Speaking Champion of the International Prepared Speech Category, Stephen Michael Lumanlan.

Alex: When did you join Toastmasters?

Stephen: I joined Toastmasters last November 2009. But I got invited way back in college by one of my professors, Ms. Sonja Chan. She’s a DTM and one of the pioneers of the very first TM club in Baguio, the Pines City TMC. She invited me to join right after college but at that the time I wasn’t interested. DTM Chan was actually one of my mentors back in college when I was a member of the Forensics Society.

Alex: Forensics Society? It sounds like something out from CSI.

Stephen: It’s actually a discussion and debate society. We have internal debates and as we go on we follow a certain format. Every year there’s also a contest between schools.

Alex: So did you join any of these contests?

Stephen: Yes, I did.

Alex: How’d that turn out?

Stephen: (laughs) I don’t know. Not so good. I was just one of the back-ups then. After a while I became an officer of the club; Then came my fifth year. I got so busy so I had to give it up entirely. They asked me to become president but I was so busy I had to decline. I found another person to be president though. And she was good-Shiela was an excellent president.

Alex: Well I see you started your public speaking career back in college. So what do you do now?

Stephen: I’m in the human resources department. I do communications. I’m the PR guy.

Alex: On a regular work day, what do you do?

Stephen: There’s no such thing as a regular work day. Everyday is quite different. Generally I handle everything in our company that has to do with internal public relations. I make the official memos, I’m in charge on the in-house paper and sometimes I ghost write for the president and managing director of our company. One of our big events is the site meeting every quarter. I assemble the program work up the agenda, talk to the big bosses, put it all together, package it and invite people. On the day of the event I’m kind of like the floor director. I facilitate the entire event to make sure that everything goes smoothly.

Alex: Do you also host the event?

Stephen: I used to do the hosting too. But now I assign it to other people. I enjoy teaching others. Hosting can really give you the opportunity to grow as a speaker. Actually I found someone who sounds like me.

Alex: Good! You should invite that guy to Toastmasters.

Stephen: Yeah, I would have. Except that he lives far from Baguio City.

Alex: Oh well, maybe some other time. So why did you join Toastmasters?

Stephen: It just made sense at the time. I didn’t have anything to do and I had a lot of time on my hands. So I thought, why not? It seemed like something I could shine and excel at.

Alex: So what is your norm now?

Stephen: Competent Communicator. I got it in less than two months.

Alex: Really? That’s amazing! How did you do that? Most people get it in 8-12 months.

Stephen: What can I say, I was inspired by Toastmasters. I set a goal. I told myself that at the end of the year I should be able to deliver my 10 speeches. I looked at the schedule of other clubs (we have around 7 or 8 clubs here in Baguio), delivered speeches there, and challenged myself. And it worked. I delivered by graduation speech in one of the classes of my mentor, Dr. Sonja Chan.

Alex: So how are you doing with your ACB (Advanced Communicator Bronze) tract?

Stephen: (laughs) I’m currently off track. I’ve already finished 4 advanced speeches but I haven’t been that focused on delivering speeches right now. My focus right now is on reviving my club. We need to get more members in. One of the challenges is that the venue is quite far. So we need to find a place in the city proper.  But anyway, I’ll get back on track eventually.

Alex: You were the champion of this year’s District Conference in Bohol last April. Again congratulations for winning. Who encouraged you to join?

Stephen: My boss at work. She’s also a Toastmaster, she’s now a DTM actually. She’s had experience in competing since she was also a national winner.

Alex: When she asked you to compete, how did you react? What first came into your mind?

Stephen: I was neither excited nor hesitant. I just thought, Ok I’ll try and see where this goes. So I did. I just wanted to do it for the experience. During the Area competition I was 1st runner.  But I was still allowed to compete in the Division level since they allowed at least 2 contestants per area.

Alex: When you won in the Division contest, how did it feel?

Stephen: It was a very happy experience. It was mind blowing. In the Area level I wasn’t that prepared. Somehow my heart wasn’t set at wining. But when I was told that I could advance to Division that was when the passion to compete in the district started. So when I won that was really something.

Alex: Maybe it really was for you to win it. You mentioned that FLEX (Foundations of Leadership Excellence) and ALC (Advanced Leadership Course) helped you win the international prepared speech contest. Why is that?

Stephen: It allowed me to go deep down to myself. It allowed me to get my identity and know who I am. To believe in myself. To be confident. To find my essence. FLEX is a 2 day activity. ALC is 3 days. So it gave me sufficient time to contemplate and really get to know myself.

Alex: Who or what was your inspiration in making the speech?

Stephen: My dad of course. My speech is all about him. He had colorectal cancer. He passed away two years ago but I can still remember that day like it was only yesterday. It was a Sunday. I looked at the heavens. There were no birds, no planes. The skies were clear with no cloud in sight. It looked like heaven was opening up to welcome him. And in my minds eye, I saw my hero going there.

Alex: I’m sure your dad is happy wherever he is. In TM, they say that everyone has his/her own time. Going to Bohol, did you feel like you were going to win? Did you feel like this was your moment?

Stephen: I felt it when I delivered my speech. Before my I spoke, there was a tug in my heart telling me that this could be my moment. But it was during the time that I delivered my speech that I really felt like I was in my moment. When you do something and you know that you just did great, you don’t think about winning or losing. I felt like I had a chance of winning. But it didn’t really matter anymore. My goal was to get the chance to represent the country and to relay a message.

Alex:  If you could sum up the message of your speech in one sentence or word, what would it be?

Stephen: LOVE.

Alex:  That’s a strong word.     
Stephen: When I delivered by speech in Bohol, that was where I was coming from. I delivered it coming from the heart. There are so many ways you can interpret my speech. It could be understood as honoring or loving your dad, the influence of a dad’s love, or that of a son being able to conquer sickness and difficulty in life. There are many messages you can take out of that speech. But if you ask, I’d just say love. I believe it doesn’t sum up just my speech but of everyone who presented there at the District Conference. Love is the universal truth in everybody who presented there.

Alex: Were you nervous while performing?

Stephen: Of course! I was shaking in the beginning. But when I got through the first few sentences, I was so into my speech everything flowed naturally. At the very last part I almost blacked out. Instead of plan A I went to plan B. And plan B worked. Plan A was a prepared part. I had the words to tie up everything. Plan B was something I devised when I found out I was number 10. I thought: Hey, I have the chance not just to wrap up my speech but all 10 speeches and the whole event as well.

Alex: How did it feel to win?

Stephen: Unbelievable. It’s like I was on top of the world. You can’t believe you’re there but you’re there. I was happy. I was excited.

Alex: Who do you wish to thank for your success?

Stephen: Everyone – especially the toastmasters who helped me prepare. But of course I’d like to thank my dad most of all.

Alex: What did you get out of that experience?

Stephen: I got a trophy! Haha. I never won a national competition before. Winning this competition helped me reinforced my being. It told me that there’s something that I could actually be good at. It made me feel complete.

Alex: I hope I can also win a national trophy someday. ^_^ Anyway let’s go to the world speech contest. You competed in the International Toastmasters Conference in California last August 2010 where you battled it out with Toastmasters from all over the world. Did you make a new speech for the international competition?

Stephen: Well I used the same speech but changed it a little. I polished the delivery. I tried to tailor it to an international audience. I prepared 2 speeches. But I wasn’t able to make it thru the semifinals.

Alex: Well you are still a champion to us. Just making it there is pretty amazing. So how was the experience?

Stephen: The nice thing was at that level, I was able to deliver my message. It didn’t matter anymore if I would win or not. The feeling was nice because everyone there had his own story to tell. It didn’t feel like a competition. All of us were just people who had a story to share. It was just amazing getting to hear the stories of these people from all over the world. Me sharing me story and getting to learn from their stories, I was floored. I was amazed by the experience. I was in the company of real people with real stories and real emotions.

Alex: Coming back to the Philippines after the international competition, what do you think changed?

Stephen: The appreciation or the realization that right now, I feel like I’m not just a citizen of my country but a citizen of the world. I feel connected to the rest of the world. You can’t just say I’m a Filipino, a German or a Japanese. Everybody is interconnected. People are becoming global and interactive. The world is becoming smaller. During my set, I met the champion – Linus Chang. Just by hearing his last name, I knew he was Chinese. But he was there and he was representing Australia. And then there’s this other guy, when you look at him, he’s black. His name is Elom. He looks like he’s from Africa. But he’s actually representing Germany. So you can’t judge a person by the color of his skin or his name because we’re so global right now. Technology allows us to interact from people from all over the globe. Look at social networking. Look at Facebook. I connect with my friends half way across the globe at home.

Alex: What would you say to Toastmasters out there who also want to conquer the stage and be a champion?

Stephen: Do not think of being a champion. Think about the message that you can give, the value that you can add to your audience. And when you share that message, speak from your heart. Don’t think of winning. Just deliver your message the best way you can.  

Alex: Any other tips or advice?

Stephen: Be open. I went to different clubs and they all gave me feedback. I had to be open enough to see were they’re coming from. We all have different perspectives. And when you talk to a large crowd, you are talking to a lot of people. So you have to find a way to touch everyone in some way. Being open allows you to learn.

Alex: Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely keep that in mind. Do you want to leave last words of inspiration to Toastmasters out there?

Stephen: You really don’t need a trophy to be a champion. A trophy is a nice bonus. When you go out on stage and deliver a message, and it touches even just one person, then you are already a winner. When you speak you have the power to touch a life. When you are able to touch a life in a positive way that makes you a champion. 

Here's a link to his winning speech entitled, Real Power:
Check out the experience of a Brave Neophyte in the competition arena of public speaking.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Submit an Article

Do you have a story to tell? Do you want to share a particular public speaking or business experience? Do you want to inspire others?

Then email me at and submit your story today.

It can be anybody’s story. It could be your story, the experience of a friend or that of a mentor.

I believe that everyone has a story to tell. And the world deserves to hear your story. Who knows? Your story might change a life. It might inspire someone and make a difference in the life of another person.

The greatest blessing you can give to others is yourself. In writing your story you are giving a part of yourself.

If you have been blessed then it is time to pay it forward.

Inspire others with your story. 

Submit an article TODAY.

Answer This

Last Sunday, we at Iligan Toastmasters Club celebrated our Christmas party at Fontina. It was one heck of a party. There was group dancing, games and of course a talent portion. I had no idea toastmasters had such talent! One member played classical guitar, another played the violin, someone belted out a song number and another member performed as a human beat box. Talent is truly meant to be shared.

There were several new members who delivered their ice breaker speeches. It may have been their first speech as a toastmaster but it amazed me how confident they were in delivering it. Yes, I could see that they were a bit nervous (that is totally normal). You cannot imagine how nerve racking it is to give your first speech (unless you’re a toastmaster). I went through the same experience. But they all pulled through gracefully.

Out of all the speeches I heard that day, one jumped out to me. And it was because the speaker asked a very poignant question:

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

That question got me thinking.

What about you? What would you do?

Hit “POST COMMENT” at the bottom and answer it. It might seem like a lot of work but you will find that it will clear your head.

Come on. Don’t be lazy :) Do it NOW. You’ll be amazed. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dreamers are Deaf

Yes. You read the title right. Dreamers are deaf.

Last night my dad told me that he and mom wanted to talk to me. I immediately knew what it was going to be about. Did I mention that my mom hasn’t been talking to me for almost a month now? And all because I chose to be in real estate instead of practice my nursing career. So I went to my parent’s room. And sure enough it was another round of lecture from mom. Dad was silent for the most part – as he usually is.

“Do you know how hard life in the Philippines is?”

“You went to nursing school for 4 years and after all that WE spent and all your efforts, you are throwing away your nursing career just like THAT?”

“I know a lot of brokers and they just do the business part time. If real estate was so good why have they chosen to stick to their day jobs instead of doing it full time?”

“You do not know what you want. You haven’t even tried living abroad yet. How can you just give it up?”

“You are so selfish. You are only thinking of yourself.”

Ouch. The last one especially hurt. I mean my family is part of the reason why I want to succeed in real estate. I know I should have explained what my reasons were for choosing to give up nursing. I was a toastmaster wasn’t I? I should have used the art of public speaking to elucidate my side of the story. But I didn’t. You know what I did? Shut up. That’s right. I did not say a word. Do you know why? Because I knew that my parents were not ready to listen. And no matter how good a speaker I was, no matter what explanation I gave, they still would not have listened. I could have exhausted all my public speaking skills and that wouldn’t have done me any good. Their hearts and minds were not ready to accept my explanation. Toastmasters know when to speak up or shut up. And at that moment I knew it was better for me to just shut up. It kind of reminded me of a song, that part where the singer sings “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” For all its worth sometimes the most effective form of communication is silence. 

Dreamers are deaf.

 They close their ears to negativity, discouragement and pessimism. They choose not to listen to anything that will cause them to lose heart. Now lest you say I’m such a bad influence to children out there, I am not saying “Don’t listen to your parents.” All I’m saying is stay true to what you want. After all, it is your life. No other person is going to live it but you. Listen carefully, weigh your options and then decide. It’s a good thing I am so stubborn. If I weren’t so stubborn I’d have probably just given up and went back to nursing ages ago.

My mom asked me what assurance I had that I was going to succeed in real estate. In truth? NONE. I’m not a fortune teller (if I was I’d probably be rich now). I can’t possibly predict what the future holds for me. But what I am sure of is that God is for my success. He will never leave me. I am also sure that I love real estate. And I’d rather die than not do what I love (wow, aren’t I melodramatic?).

A lot of people ask me what I would die for. But I always tell them, instead of thinking about that, why not find something to live for?
I live for real estate.

What about you? What do you live for?

You have one life to live. Live it now.

Go live your dreams!

What are you passionate about? What do you burn for? Check out my post I want you to burn…burn for me, baby

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I want you to burn…burn for me, baby

Has anyone said a few words to you that compelled you to rise to great heights? Someone that made you desire to become better? It may have been a friend, or a parent, or a teacher. For me, that person was my English Lit professor. One thing I liked about this guy was that he taught us unconventionally. Oh, he certainly wasn’t your “Ok class, turn your books to page 100” type of teacher. He made each class refreshing and fun. One day, he brought a cassette to class and played a song. The song was Burn by Tina Arena. It’s an old song so most of you must be familiar with it. The lyrics go something like this: “I want you to burn. Burn for me, baby. Like a candle in the night. Oh burn, burn for me, burn for me.”

Then when the song was over, he solemnly switched it off and turned to us, “So class, I want you to burn. Burn for me…baby.”

I admit we all cracked up when he said that. He said it with such a straight face too. But we got his point. He wanted us to burn for something in our lives. To have that passion, that raging fire to go after what we truly want. Whether it is writing or singing. Dancing or teaching. We have to be on fire for something. This is what makes life meaningful.

When my teacher dared us to burn for him, it ignited something in me. I felt a rush of excitement take over me, like liquid fire coursing through my veins. Though English Lit was a minor subject in our curriculum, I threw myself into it with a passion even I didn’t know I had.

This teacher made me see what I wanted. I burned with each paper I wrote. I was determined to write my best, writing and rewriting over and over and over again until I got it just right. It was grueling, but let me tell you, it was worth it. I got high grades on every paper (I don’t mean to brag a little ^_^) and at the end of the term, he said: “Alex, you have a feel for the language. Keep on burning.”

I was on fire with overflowing inspiration. By challenging us to burn for something, my teacher made me see what I wanted to burn for.

Growing up I watched my parents run NRZJ, our hardware store, capably. But I never fully realized until then how much I wanted to be a business woman. The world of business has always fascinated me. But it was more of a tentative spark. My teacher’s words were like the air that stoked that spark until it became a raging flame.

I was in my 2nd year as a student nurse in Silliman then. And since I promised my mom to stick to whatever course I chose, I decided to continue on with Nursing. So though I am a nurse by profession, I am now certain that my true passion is business. I grew up around it. I got to see how exciting and challenging it was.

My original plan was, work as a nurse, save and then with relentless passion, pursue my dream of being a real estate magnate. But I’ve changed that plan. It has become more simple; Pursue Real Estate NOW. Not tomorrow, not in a few years but NOW. Why? Because I realized that you do not have to migrate to a different country or work in a job you do not like just to make money. You can be wealthy wherever you are. Wealth comes to those who pursue their passion. It comes to people who know how to take care of it. When you love what you do and do it to the best of your ability, success will inevitably follow. And money always follows success. Think about it, if you love what you do how can you NOT be a success.

Right now there are a lot of people telling me that I cannot do it. The Philippines is a poor country, it’s too hard to practice real estate here, blah, blah, blah. But I don’t care. I have closed my ears to all this negative talk. I love the game of real estate and I am going to continue playing it. I don’t know exactly how I am going to do it. But I believe in these powerful words:
If your “why” is strong enough the “how” will come.

Why is it important to pursue one’s passion? Because it gives you a sense of purpose. It gives you direction. It gives you a reason to get up each day and do the things you do. It adds color and spice to your life. Simply put, it makes life worth living.

So wherever life takes me, no matter how many detours and left turns there are, I will always find my way back to my passion. I will never be lost because of that one song and that one teacher who made me see what I wanted to burn for.

So what is it that you yearn for? What do you burn for? What makes you get up in the morning everyday? What do your really desire to be?

An acclaimed actress? A respected writer? A famous magician?

Whatever it is, that is your passion. And that is what you are meant to be. So don’t give it up. Don’t let it go. Burn for something (not someone – but something). Burn for something NOW.

Now go live your dreams!

Check out why it is sometimes good to be deaf in my post Dreamers Are Deaf

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Win Your Mother Over to Your Way of Thinking in 3 Easy Steps

Parents. Don’t we all love them. I love my parents very much. Really. I do. But sometimes they just drive me crazy. Here’s the deal: my mom wants to me to practice my profession – which is nursing. I want to follow my passion – real estate. I know my mom only wants the best for me. 

“Alex, why don’t you just try working in Canada as a nurse for a few years? Then when you’ve saved up enough money, come back here, and do real estate.”

See? She has a point. That does seem like a smart plan. Work abroad, save, come back here and do whatever you want. But my point is I want to start doing what I love now. Why wait when I can begin right now? So many things can change in a year. The lure of a huge monthly salary might be too much for me to resist. Once I become accustomed to it I might not be able to give it up. I don’t want to be trapped in the rat race.

 I used to think that it takes money to make money. But after I attended Trace Trajano’s Think Rich Quick Seminar in Manila last October, I realized that my belief was totally wrong.  Everything that you need to succeed is already within you. And all you have to do is exercise your mind a bit and then actually do something. Action beats inaction anytime.

So how did I win my mom over to my way of thinking?

First, I agreed with her. Yes. I agreed with her. Disagreeing with someone will only put them in a defensive position. And you do not want that. So I said, “Yes mom, you’re absolutely right. Going to Canada could really be a good move for me because there are so many opportunities there. Plus, I could earn a lot every month.”

Second, give appreciation. Now I do not mean flattery. What I mean is sincere and honest appreciation. People can tell whether you are sincere or not – especially mothers. Appreciation will decrease people’s tendency to become defensive and will cause them to be more receptive to what you have to say.
Alex: “Mom, I really appreciate you looking out for my welfare. I know you only want the best for me.”

Third, I got her to say “yes”.  If you want to win an argument do not start it in the first place. Or else you’ll only succeed in strengthening that other person’s convictions. So the better thing to do is to get that person to say a series of “yes, yes, yes” right from the start.

Alex:  “Mom, I’d like to ask you a question though. Do you believe that I can succeed in whatever I choose?”

Mom: “Of course you can.” (It doesn’t even matter if you really can’t. Moms are trained to say that. It’s like a reflex.)

Alex: Then do you believe that I can succeed in real estate?

Mom: Well, I guess so.

Alex: Mom, do you want me to be happy?

Mom: Yes. Of course I do. (Another mom reflex)

Alex: Then you wouldn’t want me to do something that would make me sad, right?

Mom: Well-yes.

Alex: Real Estate makes me happy. So I guess you’re going to support me on my decision to go full time on real estate.

Mom: Well….I suppose I could.

See? Once you get the person to say “yes” it gets the ball rolling in an affirmative direction. So never ever negate. That will only start up an argument which no one will win. So it’s just a waste of time. See how easy it is? Do you now realize the benefits that good communication skills can give you? The art of public speaking is useful not only when speaking in front of a crowd but also in normal conversation.

What about you? What do you want to do? You only have one life. You’d better start living it NOW. If you want to be a dancer, then dance. If you want to be a best-selling author, then write. If you want to be the next Michael Jordan, they start playing ball now. No dream is too irrelevant or ambitious to pursue. The key here is to find out what you want; what you are passionate about and go do it. No ifs, no buts, no excuses.  And if you’re mom disagrees, try using this 3-step technique. Use it correctly and I guaranty that you will never lose an argument again.

Now, go live your dreams! :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Amazing People I Met While Reviewing For The Brokers Exam

Reviewing for the Real Estate Brokers Exam is crazy-fun. I just got back from another weekend review for the RE brokers exam. It was so draining. Seemingly endless lessons, mind-boggling computations and problem solving strategies only accountants could understand… (Ok, I did understand it-after considerable effort). And our review schedule? From 8 am to 9 pm. 13 hours of learning. And I thought I already graduated from college! But you know what? I had the time of my life. The people I met were just so diverse and interesting! Now this is where my table topics training in Toastmasters came in handy. Knowing how to think and speak on your feet when meeting new people is always a plus.

The great thing about meeting new people is that you always learn something from them. I learned a lot about the different ways of doing the real estate business through my classmates. I met Zackie Lalwani, the VP for Marketing of Plumbline Development Corporation. This is the company spearheading the development of the very first condotel in Cagayan de Oro- Uptown Condotel.  Zackie is outgoing, funny and very down to earth. And I guess that’s what you need to be if you want to sell condotels. And he’s very convincing too. I don’t know how he persuaded his college daughter, Princess, to attend the review.  What I learned from Zackie is that you do not have to be so serious all the time. Success also comes to people who know how to laugh and enjoy. Everything just has to be put into the right perspective. He might not look it (no offense, Zack J) but Zackie is very smart. He gives wise advice too. When asked how he defines success, the all-knowing Mr. Lalwani answered, “It’s the opposite of failure.” (Oh well, I did say he’s funny). Ok he did give another definition. “Success is not the result or the reward. Success is the process of performing your prescribed obligation.” And I agree. Success is more of the journey than the destination. It is who you become in the process that really matters.

I also got to know Jovy and Wiggy. Yes. I love their names too. They might have cute names but what they do is no mean feat. Jovy and Wiggy are developers. They develop low-cost housing. Yes, low-cost housing - the answer to many family’s prayers. Units are priced from P400,000 to 3 Million. It must not exceed 3 Million or else it won’t be classified as “low-cost” anymore. From Atty. Wiggy, I learned that you can do many things at once. Not only Superman knows how to multi-task. He operates his own law firm, engages in mining and does real estate on the side. His secret? Time management. And of course you have to be passionate about what you are doing. Otherwise, you’ll just get tired and give up. But if you love it, no matter how many times you fall, you will always get back up.  According to Wiggy, “Just love what you’re doing and do it with a noble purpose.” Spoken like a true lawyer. From Jovy, I learned that the right ATTITUDE is one of the keys to success. You just have to be humble and willing to learn. Never act like you know it all (even when you do know more than the person in front of you). According to Jovy, “Being a developer is hard work. You really have to put in a lot of sweat, blood and tears. And you have to be strong and determined. No matter how tough it gets, (and it will get tough) do not give up. Keep on doing what you have to and success will come. Being a developer may be tough but the rewards are worth it.”

I also met this pretty and young business woman with amazing hair, Abigail Lim. Yes, her hair is amazing. It’s long, lustrous and shiny. Abi looks like a walking hair commercial. But that is not the only great thing about her. She’s the assistant branch manager of Johndorf Ventures Corp.-a company engaged in developing and designing residential communities. Johndorf is one of the leading mass housing developers in Northern Mindanao having completed the development of more than 20 subdivisions. She focuses on sales and marketing. Abi might be only 23 (Yes, she’s my age. That means I’m young too!^_^ ) but she’s already starting to learn the ins and outs of the family business. She haggles with suppliers, meets with clients and supervises the interior design of model units. Age is only just a number. I believe you are never too young or too old to start doing what you want.

What I love about real estate is that I get to meet so many kinds of people. And from each one, I learn something new. Something I can use in my future business plans. Experience may be the best teacher, but you can’t make all the mistakes yourself. For one, no one can live long enough to do that. Instead, learn from other people’s triumphs and tragedies.  Now I’d love to write about the remaining 53 classmates that I have. But I gotta sleep first. Maybe another time. Live a great life!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

7 Tips in Making Your Ice Breaker Speech

What is an ice breaker speech? If you are a toastmaster then you are sure to know what it is. But for the benefit of those who are not, an ice breaker speech is the first speech of a toastmaster’s basic speech manual. It is the first speech every toastmaster is to deliver. This speech should basically be “all about you”. That is why it is called the ice breaker speech. It should be 5 to 7 minutes long and the objective is to introduce your self to the club. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But for me this was the hardest speech I had to deliver. Why? Because it was the first. My knees were shaking, butterflies were going crazy in my stomach and I was trembling inside. But I got through it because I prepared as best as I could and I really memorized my entire speech. A lot of people ask; how exactly do you make an ice breaker speech?

I have listed down 7 tips in making an ice breaker speech.

1.       Pick a topic that interests you. I know this sounds kind of obvious but you have no idea how many people pick speech topics that they either know nothing about or that does not interest them in the least. If you do this you are just heading straight for disaster. So choose a topic that you love. Something that you are excited about. Something that you have passion for. If you do the words will just seem to flow and you will never run out of things to say.  

2.       Write with a clear head. Have you ever tried writing a speech while thinking about a million other things at once? Kinda hard isn’t it? So DON’T do it. When you are writing, forget everything but the message you want to get across to your audience.  This will help you write faster and more efficiently.

3.       Make your point. Some speakers begin fabulously but end up going in circles. When this happens either of these can take place: Your audience gets bored, looses interest or ends up confused. So before your even begin writing decide what point you want to make and focus your speech on that.

4.       Begin with a bang. The first few seconds is one of the most important parts in a speech. You have to catch your listener’s interest in your first few lines or else you might loose them forever (or at least until your speech ends). So make sure that your opening is interesting, unique and full of life. A good beginning can really make your entire speech.

5.       Play with emotions. The best speeches play with people’s emotions. Such speeches make people laugh, cry, and get indignant. They make people FEEL. They take audiences through a rollercoaster ride of emotions. People are primarily creatures of emotion rather than logic. So use this fact to your advantage.

6.       Make relevant jokes. The most common misconception beginning speakers have is that they have to be funny. So they try to insert a joke or two into their speech even if they are totally irrelevant to the topic at hand. Don’t make this mistake. Of course you can make your speech humorous – but include only relevant jokes. If the jokes are not connected in any way to your topic, its best to delete it.

7.       End with flair. If the beginning is important then the ending is much more so. People often remember speakers with how they end. So craft a dramatic ending. You can do this in several ways: You pose a challenge to move people to act. You can ask a question to make them think. Or you can end with a quote that best wraps up your speech.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Brokers Exam review is so on!

I just got back from a weekend of reviewing for the real estate broker’s exam in Cagayan de Oro. Whew! Talk about information overload. The review might have been a bit tiring, but it was also very interesting. I was especially impressed with one of our reviewers, Ms Pilar Torres-Banaag. She is one woman who has already accomplished a lot in life. She has been a licensed broker for the past 24 years and a licensed assessor. She is also the president and CEO of Larriegil Realty Corporation and Iwag publishing and the Chairman of PAREB (Philippine Real Estate Board). She is also the author of Real Estate Broker’s Examination Reviewer – the reviewer that we are using right now. Her colleagues call her superwoman. And I can’t say I’m surprised. With all these achievements under her belt, superwoman sounds like an understatement. One thing I like about her is that she is a very good speaker. She was clear, concise and straight to the point. And she was able to break down complicated concepts into simple terms so we could better understand her. With her public speaking skills and good business acumen, it is no wonder why Ms. Pilar is so successful. I bet she can smell a good deal a mile away.

My take on the brokers review

The brokers review was a different experience for me. For one thing, I found it more interesting than reviewing for the nursing board exam (no offense to nursingJ). But it was also a bit overwhelming. There were so many new terms and laws I had to learn!

 The brokers review is going to last for 3 more weeks. The last day is set on December 5. The schedule is every weekends on Fridays (5-10pm), Saturdays (8am-8pm) and Sundays (8am-8pm). And then I’m on my own to review for the broker’s exam which is going to be on March 27, 2011. Failing is just not an option. Aside from the fact that the review cost me 16, 000 (yes, it is not cheap), starting June 2011 certain universities will now start offering BS Real Estate Management courses. That means if you want to be a broker, you have to go school for four years.

Failure is just not an option. So for those who are taking the real estate board exam next year, good luck to us! Let’s study hard and have faith. I personally believe that God is always for my success. And I know He will help me in this one. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who is Alex Zeta?

Hi everyone! My name is Alex Zeta and I am a real estate investor and public speaker. Yes. I speak in public – which I think we all do too. I am currently the president of Iligan Toastmasters – a non-profit, public speaking organization that can help you improve your leadership and communication skills. I joined this organization primarily because I wanted to be a better communicator. Why? Ever since I was in high school I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur. And if I wanted to be successful at that I needed to learn how to communicate effectively. In business, you deal primarily with people. And dealing with people means you have to talk-a lot. Now I had nothing against talking, but public speaking was another story.

Why read my blog?

Most people have GLOSSOPHOBIA or the fear of public speaking. Statistics show that most people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Are you one of those people? If you want to improve your communication and public speaking skills, or if you want to share your public speaking experiences then this blog is for you.

Who is this blog for?

This blog is for people who want to become better speakers, better leaders and ultimately a success in life. Even if you are just beginning in your journey or are already a pro speaker, this blog is for YOU. That’s right. YOU. My journey in Toastmasters has helped me improve my speaking skills considerably. But I know there is still a lot of work to do. In this blog I will share with YOU my experiences as I journey in the world of public speaking. Join me in this journey so that we may learn from each other and help one another become a success, not only in business, but also in life.

So READ ON, COMMENT and SHARE your experiences. Let us take this journey TOGETHER so we can be the SPEAKERS and LEADERS we are meant to BE

Alessandra Victoria D. Zeta
President, Iligan Toastmasters Club (2010-2011)
Champion - 2011 District 75 Evaluation Contest
Champion - 2011 Division Prepared Speech Contest
1st Runner Up - 2011 Division Impromptu Speaking Contest

4 Tips in Public Speaking from Dale Carnegie

If there ever was master of public speaking, that would be Dale Carnegie. Don’t get me wrong. I have never actually heard the man speak. I couldn’t even if I wanted to since he died of Hodgkin’s disease on November 1955. And I was born of July 1987. So…Yeah. You guys do the Math. Not that I didn’t try. I googled him and tried to find a video of him in YouTube. But I couldn’t find any. I guess video cameras weren’t in use around the early 1990’s yet. But even if I have never heard him speak I know that he was a great speaker. When I read his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, I was blown away by the ideas he presented. The core idea of his book is that you can change the behavior of other people by changing your reaction to them. For those who haven’t read this book yet, READ IT. Seriously. It’s a must read for people who want to succeed in life. Another book of Dale Carnegie that I’d recommend is How to Develop Self Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking. This book is essential for people who want to be better speakers. I have listed down an excerpt from the book.

These are 4 tips in public speaking from Dale Carnegie.

1.       Start with a strong and persistent desire. Enumerate the benefits this effort to train yourself will bring you. Arouse your enthusiasm for it. Think what it can mean to you financially, socially and in terms of increased leadership and influence. Remember that upon the depth of your desire will depend the swiftness of your progress.

2.       Prepare. You can’t feel confident unless you know what you are going to say.

3.       Act confident. “To feel brave,” advises Professor William James, “act as if we were brave, use all of our will to that end, and a courage fit will very likely replace the fit of fear.”

4.       Practice. This is the most important of all. Fear is the result of a lack of confidence; and a lack of confidence is the result of not knowing what you can do; and that is caused by lack of experience. So get a record of successful experiences behind you, and your fears will vanish.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

5 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills Next Week!

If you want to achieve success in the business arena how your present yourself and how you talk will matter. In business you have to cultivate relationships since you will be dealing primarily with people. And relationships can only be improved if you know how to communicate effectively. People who know how to speak really stand out from the crowd. They appear more capable, more confident and they give off an air of competence. On the other hand those who appear unsure of what to say do not inspire confidence and trust.

When I was in college, we often had to present case studies and reports. I cannot say that I enjoyed these presentations. In fact, I used to rush through my reports just so I could get them over with as quickly as possible. It was only when I joined Toastmasters when I realized that public speaking could be fun.

Here are a few tips in public speaking that work for me.

1.      Practice, practice, practice. Whether it is giving a prepared speech or hosting a beauty pageant, I have found that the best way to prepare is to practice. Do not ever try to “wing it.” The best speakers prepare their material extensively. Even Lincoln, who is said to be an excellent speaker, prepared his 5-minute speeches for days. You do not have to memorize your lines word for word. But write everything down. And repeat it at least 6 times. Go over your script again and again. The phrasing does not have to be the same as long as the idea is there.

2.      Fake it until you make it. Even if you do not feel confident, even if you are deathly nervous, do not, I repeat, do not let it show. Fake your confidence. Act confident and eventually you will be confident. If you have done your part in preparing for it, then fake it until you make it. Bring your chest out, smile, and put on a show.

3.      Smile! Have you ever noticed that you automatically tend to smile back at people who smile at you? So when you are on stage, smile. You will immediately appear both confident and approachable. You will exude warmth and people will want to listen more to you.

4.      Tell Stories. I have always been fond of telling stories. Almost every speech I have given contains a story. Stories have a way of making your point clearer without boring your audience to death. Even the greatest speaker of all time-Jesus Christ-was a master storyteller.

5.      Speak from the heart. Audiences have psychic abilities. Really, they do! They can tell whether you are sincere or not.  So speak from the heart. That is the only way to reach your audience. When you speak with your heart your message takes on new meaning. It is given life. When you share who you truly are with your audience, then you will be able to give the best speech of your life.