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

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