Speech festivals. Debating competitions. Public Speaking Competitions. A part-time job as a Public Speaking Trainer. And finally a Toastmaster.
Few weeks back, I completed my final speech on my Toastmasters Competent Communicator Manual. It took me ten months to complete all ten speeches – and it’s been an incredible journey. Going back to the days I first started debating, I’ve learnt so many topics, so much about other people, and more importantly about myself.
There are countless reasons I’ve fallen in love with public speaking and I want to continue practicing it and teaching it to the world.
Storytelling – your story
The right plot, character development, a climax and a resolution is the key to a good story.
Growing up and working as a journalist, work was always about writing stories. Storytelling is great, but it’s always about someone else.
What about that story you have for yourself?
In Toastmasters, I realized it wasn’t just Obama that lived through his parents’ divorce to understand the troubles of immigrants. Everyone has their own story – whether it’s divorce, friendships, relationships, health, the list just goes on.
What matters is you make it out strong, and learn from the experience. It shapes your values in life.
Everyone has their own story at Toastmasters, and listening to so many great people inspired me to share my personal stories. To share how these stories make me the person I am today.
It’s reluctance that pulled me away from personal topics in the past. The impression that people wouldn’t care to listen. But the heartwarming culture of Toastmasters opened me up. My inspirations convinced me that everyone has a story – and it’s always worth telling (no matter what the editor says!)
The Path to Progress – The power of reflection and positivity
If you’re a fan of self-help books, you’ll know a common tip is to write yourself a daily journal to reflect on progress in different aspects of your life. In Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Covey talks about how a journal of your thoughts, experiences, and insights promote mental health as a way of “Sharpening the Saw”.
Although I love writing, I don’t always have time to write a daily journal, which is why public speaking has given me a chance to reflect on the experiences that mattered most and turn them into scripts, into speeches that share an important message and reflect positivity.
We don’t go through happy times all our lives, but it’s about how you reflect on the experience and what you take home. I like to challenge myself to always take home something positive from any experience, no matter how bad it goes.
In line with my speaking goals, this reflects through setting myself a goal of my speech having a positive message, a call for action. As a result, I’m drawn into seeing the glass half full, seeing my experiences of the past as a contributing factor to the young leader willing to conquer the world today.
I’m reflecting on my past experiences to draw out the positives while sharing motivational messages with the audience.
You speak your heart out under pressure
Do you ever come across those movie scenes where you’re the climax of the film, two “friends” are about to say their goodbyes when suddenly they admit their love for each other? Or someone’s about to die, and suddenly the kiss happens, and there was this connection all along. Oh Hollywood (and Bollywood these days too!)
You speak your heart out under pressure.
Of all the ten speeches I had to deliver, a few were emergency speeches. Not that I was pushed on stage to deliver a 7-min speech, but less than 24 hours for a heads-up ain’t easy.
But there was a unique beauty of the talks. A few more ums and ahs, but I noticed myself bringing in more fresh ideas, creative use of metaphors, more interactions with the audience, and most importantly, pure purpose.
During one of my emergency speech topics “The Perks and Pitfalls of the name Joy”, I recall unexpectedly going into how I believed my name “Joy” was a link to my purpose in life.
My speech outline was just a pros and cons list of the name Joy. I swear. Great to have a name which features brands, short and easy to remember. Yet a victim of “Joy To The World” drama during Christmas season.
But it poured out beautifully. A story of how my parents came up with the name, and how I wanted to live up to the expectations of the name.
“Staying happy, spreading happiness, and being a joy!”
When we draft speeches, we’re often filtering out what sounds good, considering what the audience “might want to hear”. Sometimes the beauty of speech lies in giving your heart a chance to speak out for itself.
Leadership in disguise- you stand for something
In debate, I was always taught I have to squeeze all my arguments and rebuttals into the speech time limit and recite it as fast as possible. The motion was given, no questions asked.
Public speaking is the total opposite.
It’s about impact. It’s about what your audience remembers from your speech. It’s speaking up what you stand for.
One of my most memorable speeches was titled “The Power of the Phonecall”. It reflected my personal experiences, keeping in touch with my friends through phonecalls in early adolescence. But when that stopped, even though I tried Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you name it.
Nothing replaced the beauty of verbal communication.
“In phone calls, you get to hear someone’s voice and the emotions infused in it. The giggles when one of you tells a joke. The silence when your friend is going through a rough time and needs a shoulder to cry on. The pause when you both are thinking of a good conversation topic to keep the phonecall going.”
I realized it wasn’t just a speech topic, but an opinion I stood for. And although there’s no non-governmental organization allocating budgets to promoting phonecalls among millenials, I know it’s a practice I’ll continue with the friends that share my beliefs.
Public speaking – investment advice from an expert
One of my favourite Youtubers is Thomas Frank, or “College Info Geek”. He runs a website, Youtube channel and podcast dedicated to helping students. He also comes on the “Listen Money Matters” Podcast from time to time.
Thomas has some excellent tips on productivity, studying, managing finances, and even public speaking – but one particular piece of advice I remember well from a podcast about investing was the value of self-investing over any financial instrument you find in the market.
Making yourself stand out from other candidates in the market. Dedicating yourself to learning a new language, coding, or amping up your public speaking skills means a higher-paying job, and better career prospects over time.
“There’s no better form of investment than self-investment.”