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


  1. Keep it coming Alex. How old are you when you start public speaking :)

  2. Hi Red! 21 ^^_ I joined Toastmasters after I graduated college. You should try joining TM! Its a great avenue for growth. :)