Monday, August 27, 2012

Reflecting on the Battle of Champions

With an observing eye and critical taste ACS/ ALS Rajesh Daga shared with us the following notes on the World championship of Public Speaking 2012, which we post here for the benefits of the toastmasters members in the Division at large. It is worth mentioning that this  seasoned toastmaster is a member of both NTI toastmasters as well as NTI Advanced Toastmasters. We hope to touch base with him in the near future so that he can shed light on his versatile experience as toastmaster.
TM Rajesh Daga

World championship of Public Speaking 2012, is an eagerly awaited and anxiously anticipated event with higher expectations from the champions speakers was a revelation,  a must see, for any die hard Toastmaster.

The live telecast at SBG ALC proved to be a clincher. It was as if we were sitting right there along with 3000 Toastmasters in Orlando, Florida. The action, the thrill and the disciplined Toastmasters contest at the highest level was about to begin. Excitement ran high like a Bond movie, as soon as the internet connection was established.  I was delighted to notice that a warm welcome was extended to viewers all over the world as well as the previous winners who were all seated in the 3rd row together. Talk about camaraderie at Toastmasters.

Nine contestants out of final 90 (and total of 25,000 contestant right from club contest level, so I heard) were to battle out to take the crowning glory. Here is what I got from them as lessons and take home messages. Superb content, excellent expressions and a marvelous way of  connecting  with the audience.

Truly speaking, we have many of our seasoned  Toastmasters  around us, who can be rated at par with the contestants.  I personally feel, a bit too much of histrionics by some of the speakers, we watched at the convention. There is a marked difference between the way they speak, there pronunciations and the way they carry themselves on stage. The cultural difference shows. I do not know whether it is the preferred way by TMI. However, looking at the positives, the best part was construction of the speeches, where the start and end were almost always well connected, completing the circle of one’s subject. Another part was humour spread in between a speech. Last but not the least, the winners had the connect with a current event too. A  popular person like Usain Bolt or talking of twitter etc, to bring the audience on same page. Important lessons for us TMs.

Highlights of some of the speakers according to me :

First Speaker, Andrew Kneebone had a personal story “ The story of two Kneebones” to tell. How the earlier generation of Kneebone went to unchartered territories in Australia and made a great success out of nothing. It was quite striking when he mentioned powerfully “heroes within our family” in the context that we start looking for heroes somewhere out there.

Second Speaker Stuart Pink had a novel subject “ Brain Lifting” to speak about. His way of expressing the phrase WHAT IF was so impressive and mind churning that it had a huge positive affect not only on me but on the judges too. Question yourself  at times, with this phrase and you will find answers. It was an effective message which helped him win the third place. He was composed, confident and creative. His speech highlight was a conversation between two characters that we so often see here in Oman contests.

Third speaker Ronald Melvin title ‘Disaster to laughter’ was a novel idea highlighting how a precarious situation can be converted in to a favorable one just by changing the mindset. I felt it a farfetched idea and didn’t touch the chord with me.

Fourth speaker Brian Corvey Winterville with “keep the music alive” might have been a musician rather than a speaker. But impressive was the way he started with a melodious tune and with his gesture he took the audience on a flight of creative connect almost immediately with him. His gestures were so powerful and easy that audience sang with him, when he sang and stopped. Superb timing. I recalled the movie “rockstar” which had similar impact.

Fifth speaker, the only lady, Diane Parker’s speech titled ‘Yet here I stand’ was a story of her struggle  against all odds, her troubled childhood, failures, challenges. Her message “burry the past” was a real great take home lesson. She also announced DOA – Dead on arrival – a wonderful memorable acronym., when she spoke about past blurring our future. Her gesture of facing our past all the time that hides our future was simply superb. There was a bit too much histrionics, is what I felt, that might have cost her a place at the podium. But, an excellent personal story.

Sixth speaker, P Subramanium’s speech “Finding the right shoes” is where I felt connected the most. May be because familiar pronunciation and easy to understand diction. But to top it all, it was a subject superbly expressed, displayed and connected. He walked up on stage wearing 2 different pair of shoes. Message was touching. Many a times, we feel like wearing the shoes of other persons. Hitting the nail on the head, he mentioned, its not about finding the right shoes, but be able to fit in the shoes meant for us. Another memorable phrase he used with aplomb was “What could be than what is? His effort won him a creditable no. 2 spot.

Seventh speaker Kenny Ray Morgan’s speech title was “Afraid of the dog”.  Call me a native, a na├»ve or a person who lacks understanding of the language. To be honest, when I heard him first, I mistook the pronunciation of the word DOG with DARK. Please pardon me. That is the pronunciation misunderstanding normally happens with me. It was only when he mentioned an incident with canine family that I realized what he was talking about. It was an age old successful meaningful subject of conquering  your fear. When a dog runs after you, rather than running away, turn back and look directly at it in the eye. Just like you would handle your biggest fear, to see how it disappears. Superb content. Not delivered powerfully, is my verdict. 

Eight speaker Ryan Avery happened to pick up A VERY  classy subject, ‘Trust is a must’. Starting with a scene of him standing on the altar and ending his speech at the same spot, he mesmerized the audience with superb contents like Promise is only as good as the person who makes it. Really emphasizing value of being the real YOU. Inspiring, awesome and a winner all the way.

Ninth  speaker Mario Lewis’s speech title “ Do not look “ was the last one. He was moving on smoothly when the transmission abruptly stopped. Though he was quite impressive, sudden discontinuation did affect my focus.

The excellent arrangements by Area  Governor Robin Anand and his team made this possible despite being a Eid holiday. They deserve a big pat on the back. And for those, who missed out , grab the first available copy of the DVD.

One seemingly satisfying consolation, our standards are quite encouraging. Very soon, one contestant from Oman will battle his or her way and be right there, competing and winning.  Good luck, keep trying hard.


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