Practical Public Speaking tips – Don’t IGNORE!

Like in everything else in life, errors and mistakes are part of our public speaking journey. We can’t totally eradicate them because it is always part of the learning process. Learning process is a never-ending cycle. It is part of growing. The journey of public speaking is never-ending cycle.
Though errors are part of our journey, it doesn’t mean we should just ignore them. We also have to be aware and learn from them.

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Don’t IGNORE when doing public speaking.

I stands for Insensitive. Don’t be Insensitive! Topics related to religion, ethnic groups and politics can be sensitive. Make sure you don’t offend any of the members of these affiliations. Don’t make fun of the senior citizens, the LGBT and other members of any group, unless you’re one of them. Just don’t embarrass anyone.

G stands for Gossip. Whether you’re off or on the microphone, just don’t gossip. It is when you talk ill of someone who is not present. It is simply not a good habit. Gossiping is wrong use of communication. It defiles the real purpose of communication. Communication is supposed to empower others, to inspire others, to inform others. Gossiping has become a favourite pastime of most people. You must already know that the person you’re gossiping with will later on be gossiping about you. It’s just a never-ending cycle. If you got addicted to it, just please break that habit before it breaks you.

N stands for negetive. Don't be negetive. 
When you're on stage or in front of other people speaking, you are also emitting some energy to them. Your energy becomes contagious, especially when it is negative energy you are emitting. Opposite attracts and people are born positive, so with your negative energy on stage, you infect the audience.

O stands for OA. Don’t be over-acting. Do not say sorry all the time, don’t apologize. When you missed something, just let it go. Don’t over-emphasize, wherein you pronounce each word you say with emphasis. Emphasize only those that need emphasis.

R stands for Rain on my Parade. Don’t rain on my parade. If there are petty problems behind the backstage, don’t announce it to the public. The audience does not have to know every little problem in the area. Unless it’s emergency like there’s fire, the best thing you can do if you noticed some problems is to call the attention of the organizer and let him/her fix it. Just don’t ruin the moment of the audience.

E stands for Excuses. Don’t make excuses. If something is wrong, just find a way to fix it rather than to blame it to others. When you’re in front, whatever situation you have that seduces you to back out, just don’t succumb to it. Just present your best self in the moment as if nothing is wrong.

How to Re-ignite Your Life-work Excitement

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In your entire employment experience, you often meet people who in some ways become part of your life. You become close to them. You cherish each other’s company. You share each other’s grievances about work.Then one day you just realized that one by one, these people are no longer around. They had moved out of the company. At first, you make fun of it and enjoy the farewell parties as if these are fiestas. But as the loud music from the Videoke and the enchantment of alcohol slowly subsided, you’d also think “why am I still here?” You’d feel a bit jealous of the excitement of your friends’ new journey.

Then it’d make you think of all the worst of things about your present job. You lose your “appetite” towards your current work. While you focus on updating your CVs and sending them out to prospect employers, you become less productive. You become grumpy. You lose your cool.

Looking for greener pastures outside the company is inevitable. It’s your backup, if all else fails. But it shouldn’t make you less productive in your current work. You spend at least 33.33% of your day at work. What you do and feel in your entire 8-hour job becomes your habit.

Here are some of the things you could try to reignite your excitement to go to work:

1. Do other healthy activities outside of work. Even if you enjoy what you do at work, there are times when out of internal and external pressures, you’d get burned out. Even machines sometimes need some cooling down to crank it up again. If your passion is biking, then take time to ride your bike. If you skip doing what you enjoy outside of work because you were too busy, then one day you might realize you were too old to do all the activities you once loved doing. Use the 66.67% of your time on healthy non-work related activities to have a work-life balance.

2. Have “me-time”. If it seemed impossible, with your friends and family members around, then go somewhere else for a while. For the religious, this is a good time to pray. It is also a good time to evaluate your life. How have you gone so far? To be aware of your achievements and the abundance of your life is to reaffirm the value of your own hard work. It’s a simple congratulatory pat on your shoulder. Don’t wait for other people to come to you and say “you’re doing great!” How can you do better next time? Even if you transfer from one company to another, if you keep your old energy-sucking unproductive habits, then you’re not doing any favor for the company and even for yourself. Spend some time to reconnect with yourself, to ask where you’re at and where you truly want to be.

3. Every once in a while, try to do something different or something crazy. It’s one way of exploring your possible hidden gifts. If it doesn’t feel right after a few tries, then move on to another. Crazy things don’t have to be illegal or destructive. It could be something you never thought of doing, something that you’ve been refusing to do what other people asked you to do. Normally when someone invites an adult, the usual responses include “Why? Where are we going? Who’s going to drive us? What’s in it for me?” We rationalize too much. We anticipate a lot of possible problems. When we fail to come up with all the answers, we end up doing nothing. When you ask a child “let’s go out?” They would say “yey!” Oftentimes, they end up having so many discoveries and adventures. Sometimes, we also need to tap into that inner child to enjoy more with any opportunity.

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Each person is hardwired in many different ways. The above items may not have the same effect on everyone. Whatever works for you, stick with it. The most important thing is that you become productive with what you do, without draining all the energy that you lose the excitement and fun side of things.

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Practical Public Speaking Tips – Do ENJOY and HAIL!

Public Speaking: it is what most people dreaded.

If you ask me, I would prefer my whole day to read books, write some articles, cook food, wash the dishes, do the laundry, even mop the floor, than to do a few hours of public speaking!

Public speaking whether you like it or not will come knocking at your door of opportunities. You have to grab it as an opportunity.

I have met a lot of people who are really so good at their technical jobs. They have really brilliant ideas about process improvements that could benefit the whole company. There is no doubt that they are very knowledgeable about their assignments.

But when asked to present their ideas to the management, they chicken out. So, what would you expect? The improvement would not be implemented. Their ideas would just remain in their heads.
Ernie Baron once said that “Knowledge is Power!” That is not entirely true! Knowledge and ideas alone are useless. They have to be put to actual action to become useful. They have to be shared. They have to be communicated to the public!

So, if you have brilliant ideas, which you think could change the world or at least could benefit others, do not be afraid to speak of them. Find an opportunity to share your ideas!

I believe that there are two things that hinder us from doing public speaking.

1) We fear of being ridiculed, being humiliated, being laughed at. And we don’t want to commit errors in front of the public, such as wrong pronunciation of English words, wrong grammar, and so on and so forth.

2) We fear that when we speak, no one would want to listen to us. We fear that everything we say is pointless, not interesting, and of no value. We fear to be embarrassed.

On our fear of being ridiculed, I’d like to share with you some tips that work for me. And it is in the acronym “ENJOY”

When you are given a chance to speak in front, regardless of all your anxiety, your nervousness and your fears, all you have to do is ENJOY!

As they say, Life is short. Time is fast.No replay, no rewind. So in EVERY moment and EVERY opportunity you have, the best way you can do is to ENJOY!

E stands for Exercise or Practise. Practice proper breathing. Practice to control your nervousness. Practice how to use the projector, the microphone, and so on.

N stands for Nurture you Audience. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience. If you were one of them, what would you want to get from the presentation? If as an audience, I wanted to be inspired, then as a speaker, I would share my stories, the challenges I've experienced, the lessons I've learned. If I wanted to be informed as an audience, then as a speaker I have to gather the necessary facts and data to support my topic. If as an audience, I wanted to be alert, then as a speaker I should make sure that no one in the audience is not sleeping. As a speaker, show that you care for the audience, by giving to them what they wish to get from your presentation. 

J stands for Juice it up! It means you have to make your presentation dynamic, interesting and alive! If slides are necessary, then maybe you can put some cute little creatures to the background to spice this up. If outrageous body language is necessary in your speech, use bold gestures.

O stands for organize your thoughts. Use transitions when moving from one subject to another. As an emcee or event host, make sure you have the outlined program. It will be your guide to drive the program smoothly.

Y stands for yield. It means to surrender to the moment you have. Let go of your inhibitions, your worries. Leave your personal problems at home. Be present in the moment!

On our fear that no one listens to us, I’d like to borrow the acronym of one of my favorite TED speakers Julian Treasure HAIL.

Honesty – Be true to what you say.

Authenticity – Be true to yourself. 

Integrity - Being your word. You must not to tell your audience to do something, which you are not willing to do yourself.

Love – I don’t mean romantic love. To wish people well is enough.  Honesty is good. But it can also be brutal. Honesty, sprinkled with a little love can be a powerful tool.

Happy Ending is a Hoax

I think happy ending is a hoax. It does not exist! Life continues wherever you go. Life has no ending. Even if we die, I think life in general continues. Some people chase their happy endings. They believe that after going through all the topsy-turvy roads, there is an ending out there, where they can be happy. They persist through everything to get to that ultimate happiness.
On my recent commute during Christmas break, I experienced an event that tested my happiness principle. Everyone knows that a 5-hour bus travel can be challenging. The scourging sun can become unfriendly! It burns your precious skin and it makes everything sweaty and sticky. Dusts are everywhere. You know what lurks behind the invisible shadows of dusts. They are the microorganisms that seem harmless but when allowed to get into your system could eat you to the bones alive! Travelling by commute presents so many inconvenient situations, where you can become grumpy.

Two of my fellow commuters in the bus must have succumbed to the stressful situation we were in. At the start of the travel, they were already complaining about a lot of things.

“The driver does not know how to drive! He does not know how to use the break. I almost hit my nose on the back seat.”

“The bus design is awful! Seats are very tight and have no space. I hit my knees everywhere I move.”

Then, it began to rain. Everyone rushed to close the windows. Four of the windows were stuck. And one of the windows was closest to my seat. As I tried to force the latch to close the window, I could feel the cold water slowly crawling under my shirt, then to my jeans… down to my shoes! It’s as if it was frisking inch by inch my sensitive nerves. It was tickly! It was enjoyable, too, I had no choice. I saw the other wet passengers flashing their smiles. The scene was simply amusing!

On the contrary, the two grumpy men were already shouting at the top of their lungs, spitting all the curses they could think of.

While everyone else was enjoying, I wondered why those two men were so grumpy. We were all in the same situation, but how we see the situation was all that made the difference.

I guess it’s just a matter of perspective, on how we see things. If you see rain as something that’s irritating, then, it will be! But if you consider rain as a blessing, as something wonderful, even if you get soaking wet, you will be amused with it.

As adults, we know how the rain is formed. So, we just ignore it. And we have other “more important matters” to fix our minds to - like arriving in our destination safe and dry! I think it pays to once in a while see things from a child’s eyes. That way, you’d be amazed at how the pouring water appeared from nowhere. You will see rain as a miracle.

Perhaps, if you chase happiness on a day-to-day basis, from a child’s perspective, you will see things full of wonders. When you appreciate the simple wonders of life, like the rain, you will find happiness even at the least favourable situation. Thus, you will forever be happy! No ending!

Dreams Can Come True

Speech Project #8, delivered on Aug 14, 2010

Everything starts with a dream. Dreams are not just a figment of our imagination but they are visions we see or we wanted to see in the future. It is the blueprint of our future.

I once had a dream standing on a podium speaking in front of an audience. I knew it was a nightmare because in that dream I was trembling. The next morning I woke up soaked in my own sweat.

A year later, that one dream came true. This time, I knew it was not a nightmare. In it, I wasn't trembling. Somehow, public speaking dream literally became real. Thanks to Toastmasters, my trembling nerves now are in its proper place. I still feel nervous though it no longer bothers me like it used to. My nervousness now feels more like an excitement.

Dreams are blessings. Good dreams serve as visions that give us hope to achieve something great in the future. On the other hand, nightmares are not just product of our subconscious fears. They too are blessings because they give us warning that if we are not mindful of our actions, bad things might happen to us. Nightmares remind us that all our actions have consequences. Knowing this before hand, we have the chance to avoid them from coming true.

One common fear is fear of embarrassment. Being on stage in front of an audience is prone to this kind of fear. At some point in our lives, we experience being on stage! Whether you are singing, dancing or asked to speak on your friend's wedding, there are only two choices you have when you are on stage – it’s either you presented yourself well or you embarrassed yourself badly. Speaking of embarrassment, I have a few of those to share.

Years ago when I was in school, I used to be coerced to present different things my classmates won’t do especially on stage. From singing, dancing, to delivering impromptu speeches - you name it! I wasn't gullible really. I was more of a "feeling-hero" type of kid. I thought that if I won’t do it, the world would be doomed! If there is something I think should be done, which no one would want to do, I usually would volunteer myself to do it. Though, I also sometimes feel being betrayed by the voluntary impulse of my own hands. Some of my 'heroic-volunteerism' embarrassments include climbing on a greased bamboo, killing a chicken in a dance while wearing almost nothing, singing 'doble-kara', and many others. I think, despite fear of embarrassment, my innate competitiveness was overpowering during those times. Besides, I didn't want the rival teams to run away the trophy easily. I didn't want them to think we were a batch of losers. 

Of course it is not embarrassing to sing on stage, but if you forgot 90% of the lyrics, that’s a nightmare. It happened to me once. Out of 6 contestants, I still ranked 4th. Amazing? Ahem!

Dancing is also not embarrassing, but if you splattered some chicken blood on an honoured guest’s shoes, perhaps you would consider cursing the dance floor. While dancing, I had to tear the live chicken using my own hands. The chicken was very participative and if it were in a movie, it would have been cinematographically impressive. After I smashed it on the floor, it continued to flap its wings until it reached the seat of our guest, while leaving traces of blood on the floor and on his shoes. On another dancing incident, I kicked someone else’s face when I tried to back flip. And that's the end of my dancing journey!

Joining an extemporaneous speech contest is not embarrassing, but I had experienced one which I had wished I could turn back time to correct it. After the speech contest, one of the judges approached me and said “You could have won! Your message was on point. You have excellent command in English. You spoke fluently. The problem is that this Tagalog Category!”

Despite all of those embarrassments I had, I still believe there is no point of wallowing and of giving up. Failures and embarrassments are part of the process of learning and chasing our dreams. If you fail during the process, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. It’s just that you haven’t succeeded yet. A popular meaning of the acronym FAIL, which sums it all up, is First Attempt In Learning. I think the scientist Thomas Edison is a famous example of this. He is believed to have busted 10,000 bulbs before getting the result. On my search for my own success compared to Edison’s, I think I have busted a hundred yet, which means I still have around 9900 attempts to explore and explode.

Fellow toastmasters, we should not fear embarrassment or failure. The greatest failure is the failure to try. Let us not stop trying. Let us not stop dreaming of good dreams. Let our dreams be not just for our self-gratification but also for the success of our club, for the benefit of others and to make little contributions to maybe.... world peace?

Let our dreams be the starting point and not the end point. Or else, it would be as if we were just dreaming with our eyes closed. And the next morning we'd just forget everything.
Dreams can be powerful but only if we persistently chase and work for it. With the guide of the Almighty, dreams can come true.