Monday, October 26, 2009


When DTM Ro Leonora sent me a text message about having to judge in an impromtu speaking contest sponsored by the Rotary, I was surprised, pleasantly surprised that is. For some seconds I lost track of my listening to a prepared speaker whom I will evaluate in a few minutes. Of course, I said yes.

Then I realized, I am training a high school student at La Salle for a contest which as far as I know is sponsored by the same organization. So I quit the task as a trainer to give justice to the other constestants and to give integrity to the role of being a judge.

The day of the contest came. I did not see my mentee. There I came to know that he belongs to a different zone. I was utterly vindicated.

There were six contestants and the reveleation - which does not really caught us by surprise, all were ladies. Where are the gentlemen?

Well, at least one of the judges is and of course, the Chair, Boy Gequillana plus the master of ceremony whom is also a Sillimanian and and a debater (according to his introduction), including the two timers.

The timers. They are quire amusing, at least to me. I always remember street ice cream vendor passing by whenever, the four minutes is up. To the contestants, they might be a distraction. To some, a mental relief because finally they can stop groping for words. In toastmasters, since we are very time conscious or at the very least is conscious that we are timed (though at some point we ignore the red light because of some irrepressible hightened emotions), we use a timing device with green, amber, and red lights. No sound to signal the time as it will appear very disrespectful and rude to some extent.

The contestants. Some are promising speakers. Some needs a little polishing. Some are just there. Now I am rude again. At least i recognized I am. Some already are rude but hintless that they are. Most of them started in a pageantry manner like, "my question runs this way". On the fifth contestant who said that phrase, I am already on the brink of suffering nausea. I would have appreciated if they immediately read the question as it is. Moreover, it is quite obvious and evident that the contestants have memorized their opening statements. They flawslessly quoted famous peace giants like Mandela and Mother Teresa. I dont have a problem with that. The danger to that is the transition, from the opening to the body of their speech. Some into's do not connect at all to the body of the speech. It's a little aweful and disturbing to some extent.

An excellent speaker must have a balance of the two elements of effective public speaking.

One, is the skillful and intelligent analysis of the topic. We translate it as the "substance" in the score sheet. The very reason why a speaker exists is because he has a purpose of speaking in front of an audience. The audience does not deserve anything less. The speaker should at all times be guided with that purpose. I believe, the measure of how effective a speaker is, is when the audience, at the end of the speech is one heart and one mind with the speaker. That means, the message is effectively being put across.

Second is the media/tools by which the speaker used to speak with purpose. One is the voice. A speaker must know the quality of his voice. Employ vocal variety, as when you are excited, depressed, ecstatic, in love, angry. Second is the eye contact. This part is meant to establish a connection to your audience and to appear very earnest and sincere. Looking at them in the eyes means they belong. Third is the use of body language. "Action speaks louder than words". They convey more meaning to your words. They put more emphasis on your points, one by one.

At the end of the day, public speaking is a skill. It's only requirement is practice!

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