Friday, September 07, 2007

We were the winners!

No. We didn't bag the prize at the Entertaining Speech Contest organized by the Infosys Toastmasters Club day before yesterday, but we put up a gritty show and made our mark there. And thus we were winners in our own might. A briefing on how things unfolded at the Infy campus...

A week before the contest when Sun Toastmasters club was invited to participate in the 175th anniversary meeting of Infosys Toastmasters club, I was excited but was unsure whether I was prepared to take part in competitions outside. A couple of days later Prasanna, our President, gave me a call to ask if I would be interested. He had already registered himself by then. I agreed without having the slightest idea of what was coming my way. He put a stern word of caution, “If you commit, you cannot chicken out in the end”. I warily said, “yes, I commit”. The topic to speak upon was “I wish I could...”. This looked an interesting and easy topic to speak upon. But the kind of born procrastinator that I am, i was not ready till 2 days before the competition. The guidelines mentioned that weightage would be given for innovativeness and humor. I tried my best to prepare the content and when I thought I was ready, set up a time in the morning of the D-day with Prasanna to have a mutual rehearsal. Prasanna's speech was good with some humor. But he had more serious content in the later half. I asked him to make it a little more humorous. He added a bit. He had the same advice for me. I thought mine was ok and I felt confident.

D Day, 5:40 pm, Infy campus

We were late by more than half an hour. We found our way to the MC hall and the moment i opened the door, my heart was in my mouth. It was a grandiose hall appearing like an arena with around 60-70 odd people. Big digital screens displaying slides and video transmission. The competition was yet to begin and other formalities were being done. I remembered Prasanna's words, “You cannot chicken out”. I moved out of the hall and went to the loo to pick myself up. (This is the most effective trick followed world wide. When you are nervous or are in a trying situation, go to the loo and have a little self talk in front of the mirror. It works like magic). We went back and settled comfortably in the third row from the front. The contest began. First contestant was called. He delivered a thumping speech. The audience were laughing with his wit. He was the man in control. I thought he is definitely taking a prize today. The second contestant was called. He was even better. Third speaker. She was as good and impressive. The audience was being treated to some classy speeches full of humor and wit. I myself was laughing out loud. These people knew the art of holding the pulse of the audience. I panicked. Winning was never in my mind after I heard the first speech. But now what was bothering me was that my speech had to be in the same level of quality with humor. It happens when an audience is treated with back to back great performances, their expectations stay high and anything less than that would be a disaster. I could sense that Prasanna also sensed the same. I saw him scribbling down notes. I had no clue what. We were the last two speakers.

After about eight speakers, Prasanna took the podium. I was glad that his opening remark threw the audience in splits. He asked the audience what the time was. And then admitted that was just to check if they were awake. What followed next was what shocked me. Prasanna had scrapped his entire prepared speech and was speaking impromptu. And the notes he was scribbling all the while was his new content. And the audience did laugh at his witty stories and innuendos. I lauded his confidence. I could never risk that, at least at this level. His later part of the speech turned a little serious. And I think that is what did him. Otherwise he would have been a strong contender. He admitted later that he ran out of humor content in the end. But he was a winner in every sense.

Next was me. All this while I had kept saying myself, “ I would do great if I could complete the whole speech in a single go without fumbling”. My name was called. I took the podium. My heart was pounding. I ran my eyes through the crowd. 70 odd people looked like 7000. I blurted, “I wished I could (this was the topic) reduce to the size of an ant and vanish from this hall. This is what pressure does it to you”. I could hear the chuckle from the audience. This gave me the confidence to carry it ahead. What amused me was that i too was experimenting with my speech and straying a bit here and there from my prepared speech to add humor. It was working. Then came a point when I went blank. I had strayed. I didnt know how to move next. It was only for a second or two. But it felt a long longtime. I somehow found a way. I finished my speech. I had a prepared witty ending. I delivered it. Audience laughed again. I felt satisfied. I came back to my seat. Prasanna complimented saying it was so humorous more than what he had heard me before while rehearsing. I had delivered a completed speech first time in my life in front of such a big audience. On such a big platform. I had won in all respect. I was the winner.

Thank you Toastmasters. It was because of you that I finally overcame my stage fright. All these days of association had it fruits delivered.




juls Thursday, November 29, 2007 9:48:00 PM  

It was a really great effort you showed in front of so called 7000 odd persons. All the best for your future endeavours.

Chandana Wednesday, April 01, 2009 2:25:00 AM  

Pretty old post .. i just chanced upon today .. :)

Afreen,  Friday, April 24, 2009 1:17:00 AM  

The much needed platform that one craves for,atleast for those who have this "stage fright" factor inside their minds...U did a great job indeed.

About This Blog

About This Blog

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP