Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Coming Out Of My Shell: Eric Marcelo

Contributed By: Eric Marcelo, CC
                      Automation Specialist
1st Place - 2007 Area International Speech Contest
1st Place - 2007 Area Table Topics Contest
1st Place - 2008 Area Evaluation Contest
3rd Place - 2009 Area Table Topics Contest

If there ever was an unlikely person to be a public speaker, it would probably be me. On the other hand, if there ever was a person who needed Toastmasters, it would also be me.

I happen to be a very quiet person. In the words of a friend, “a man of the fewest words.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a generally quiet person. It’s just that Toastmasters helped me be a speaker if I had to be or if I chose to be.

It all started when I was signed up (read, forced) to attend a Speechcraft training seminar in 2003, sponsored by my employer. I found I seemed to have a knack for it so when the company formed it’s own club, I was one of its first members.

Having dived into the pool, I suddenly got cold feet. It took me a year and three months to get the courage to deliver my first speech as a Toastmaster. After that first one, however, I began delivering a speech every month or two, gaining confidence and skill as time went on. I joined my first contest in a division speechfest where I delivered my Basic Speech Number Eight. I didn’t win but I got a tremendous boost out of it.

I had not prepared to join the area speech contest so all I did was watch. Looking around, however, I noticed that the crowd was four to five times the number of attendees in our club and since Speech Number Ten was about inspiring people, I resolved to deliver my graduation speech during the division contest as the test speaker for the division speech-to-evaluate contest. I did well enough that then District Governor, Elisa Tay, invited me to the 2006 District Convention in Davao, to re-deliver the same speech (On Being a Toastmaster) as a guest speaker, not as a contestant.

Attending the convention was a great experience for me. The quality of the speakers was amazing and I decided I’d want to try competing in the next convention. I continued honing my skills and began venturing into other clubs to attend their meetings and deliver speeches. Almost a year later, I won at the area contest but got first runner up at the division level. The champion, however, would be out of the country during the district convention so, as the second placer, I got my chance to compete.

I can’t say that I am not nervous about delivering speeches, especially at a contest but the jitters only last until I start talking. After that, it becomes easier. There was, however, one instance where I got lost. I forgot the next line! Fortunately, Toastmaster training came to the rescue and I jumped to the next sentence. No one noticed. I didn’t win at the district level but I got a lot of compliments about my speech (Opportunities and My Dad).

Competing has done wonders for my confidence in addition to honing my public speaking skills. I’ve had occasion to use these skills several times outside of Toastmasters.

Once, I attended a seminar-workshop where I presented the result of my group’s activity. The others listened to my presentation with elbows on the table and chins on their hand. I thought they were bored but when I asked for questions, the first one was, “were you ever a teacher?” They remarked that the presentation was so clear and easy to follow.

In one other instance, the factory manager wanted the supervisors to make a presentation about how we use contractors. Two presenters would be invited every week at the top management meeting. I was one of the first.

Using tips from numerous speeches (my own and others, I listen to their evaluations as well), I decided on three points: How many contractors I used, what they do, and what time they worked. My presentation was all of three slides, took about 15 minutes to deliver and I only had a few questions to answer. The next presenter had no less than 15 slides, took more than 30 minutes and had to answer dozens of questions and clarifications. At the conclusion of the meeting, the factory manager instructed the other managers to prepare the presenters for next week and to, “use Eric’s template.” For the next two days, I distributed copies of my presentation to the other supervisors. Following this, I was tapped to make presentations on safety and environment and to conduct training-seminars for other employees.

I have been a technician for almost 30 years. Since I became a Toastmaster, however, I’ve found that I had a teacher’s heart. It’s manifested in the seminars I’ve conducted, in presentations I’ve made, but most of all, it’s manifested in a Toastmaster’s meeting when I do speech evaluations. I just love helping people learn.

Learn how to speak like a champion. Check out my interview with Public Speaking Champion Stephen Michael Lumanlan

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Brave Neophyte: Andrienne Enrique Boado

I’ve always thought that public speaking was exclusive to political leaders and to those who had big names in the society. Years back, I perceived speeches as boring monotonous narrations made by zealous and brainy individuals regarding topics that people were already so sick of. I believed that they were almost always delivered to listeners who could hear but didn’t understand or who could understand but didn’t bother to act.

Delivering a speech was a no-no for me until I was forced to do so, years ago in our public speaking class. I learned that there were different kinds of speeches and the boring ones I usually heard during graduation/closing ceremonies were just one of the many types of speeches. I learned that speeches did not have to be monotonous narrations but, if constructed properly and delivered effectively, could be persuasive and entertaining enough to leave a mark in the hearts of listeners. Since then, I started to look at public speaking from a different perspective. 

I began constructing and delivering speeches with zeal until it became something I learned to love. One time, we had oral examinations in public speaking and it was about impromptu speaking. Given a limited time to prepare for the topic I picked, I was shocked at how I was able to speak spontaneously without running out of words. After the exam, I was surprised that I got a perfect score. But I did not love myself for that. I hated myself instead because I felt that I really missed the right course, the one that suited my likes and interests best.

I was in my second year in college but still, I had yet to love the course I was in – Nursing. I wanted to take up Mass Communications because I believed that I was more inclined to it. But I was already stuck in my nursing course which was a lot different from the one I really liked. Having a subject like public speaking as part of the Nursing curriculum only intensified my desire to pursue my course of choice. 

After a few months, the semester ended with a written examination for the finals. And I could hardly accept that I could no longer deliver speeches in my other subjects and enjoy them as much as I enjoyed public speaking. And as I walked from my chair to my instructor’s table to submit my answer sheet, I recalled that he mentioned about an organization for public speaking called Toastmasters. Too bad he didn’t tell where we could find it. Perhaps he thought that none of his students would be interested to join such a club. But I was interested. I wanted to ask him but I was afraid he might find it funny that someone like me would be interested in joining a club which (I thought) was exclusive for professional speakers. Love for speaking and the fear of ridicule battled in my mind until I recalled my instructor saying that FEAR is an acronym which means FANTASIZED EVENTS that APPEAR REAL. With that, I mustered the courage to ask my instructor where and how to find the said organization.

In the afternoon of that same day, I attended by first Toastmaster meeting. It was held at the basement of a McDonald’s store in the city where I lived. There, I found my instructor, Mr. Hermie Garrobo, emceeing the program as the Toastmaster of the Day, in a very exciting and thrilling way. People delivered speeches in their own styles which were not at all boring. Every speech had its own punch and every speaker had a kind of charisma that was distinct and unique. Right there, I said to myself that I would be like one of them someday. I too, will express myself in my own way, with my own charm (if I had such).

At the age of 17, I started to faithfully attend club meetings and deliver impromptu speeches. Patiently, I waited to turn 18 in order to be recognized as an official member of the club. Months passed and my passion for public speaking only escalated. Two months after I turned 18, I received the Competent Communicator award as a reward for my “hard work” in delivering speeches. Months later, I was thrown into the Lion’s Den. I was asked to represent my club and city in the impromptu speech category. (Un)fortunately, I made it to the national (district) level and had to face the speaking beasts. Speakers who had a wealth of ideas and experience gained through years of training. I felt like I was doomed (in a good way) for the sequence of events made it impossible for me to escape my fate which was to compete against 9 other national contestants from all parts of the country during the Toastmasters District Convention in Bohol.

The theme which was “Unleash your X-Factor” made sense to me. Being in the convention alone was already a sign that I had taken the first step in unleashing my x-factor. Just by being in this competition, I was already getting out of my comfort zone. With only the Lord’s promise in my heart, I stood on that stage mustered all the courage I gained through prayer, and began speaking. I spoke as if I had a contagious disease called “passion” and an obsession with personal growth. But it was true. I had a passion for growth; and taking a step away from one’s comfort zone meant taking a step towards one’s growth. And that’s what I did.

The Lord has always been faithful and He rewarded by faith with a “yes” to my prayers. He gave me the 2nd place trophy and I was very happy because my only prayer was not to go home empty handed. Alas! I can say to my mentors that their labor in training me was not in vain.

As I went back to Baguio and back to my life as a nursing student, I felt something inside me change. This time, I didn’t hate my course anymore. Toastmasters gave me a chance to pursue my passion without having to leave my course. I don’t really need to be a Mass Comm. student in order to learn how to speak effectively. And I didn’t need to be a politician or have a big name in society to get people to listen to me speak. And I didn’t have to be older or have a higher educational attainment than my audience in order to be listened to by them. All I needed was the right words to speak…a good story to share… 

We often place ourselves in a self-assembled box called “limitations,” thinking that we know very well what lies in the world outside the box and believing that we are not fit to enter that world. Because of that, we have made the center of the box our world and its corners our sky. We all have different kinds of boxes. Some operate inside huge boxes while others inside tiny minute boxes. But when it comes to overcoming limitations, the size of our boxes doesn’t matter. What matters is that we learn how to get out of our self-assembled boxes and discover that outside our boxes lies our true potential. I am not saying that I have gotten out of my box completely. Personal growth is a process. But I see myself ready to take on the biggest role I can possibly take, for after all, I am bigger than my box…and 
so are you. Shalom!

Contributed by: Andrienne Enrique Boado
                 1st Runner Up-Impromptu Speaking Category
                 2010 Division F District Conference

Learn how to speak like a champion. Check out my interview with Public Speaking Champion Stephen Michael Lumanlan