Monday, March 05, 2007


by Perps Poblador, CC/CL

“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”

Speech contests are annual events in the Toastmasters community during which the best speakers are recognized and their best stories heard.

SPi Toastmasters Club participated in the Joint Area 75 & 76 Speech Contest that was held last March 17, 2006 in the Bureau of Customs in Paranaque City. Club President Espie Vitug won First Place in the International Speech Contest category. Together with her are Toastmasters Rohit Wad and Competent Communicator and Leader (CC/CL) and Past President Raul Escandor who also competed in the Impromptu Speaking and Evaluation Speech Contest categories respectively.

From left to right, starting at the top: 1) Prepared Speech Contest Champ, Tm Espie. 2) Rohit, Espie and Raul as representatives of SPi Tm Club 3) Tm Espie, very proud of her champion medal (puwede ba ito isangla? *giggles*). 4) SPi Tm club-representatives making faces in front of everyone!

Story 1: The Lady Who Brought Home the Bacon

Tm Espie Vitug is one of the charter members of SPi Toastmasters Club back in 2000. Her membership was cut short immediately after leaving SPi to serve a full-time mission to her church. When she got back to SPi by 2004, she reinstated her membership in the club. In 2004 and 2005 she was elected as the club’s Secretary and Treasurer respectively. She was unanimously elected as the Club President by 2006. She’s now aiming to achieve her Competent Communicator and Leader norms before June 30, 2007.

Q: How does it feel to win the toughest yet most prestigious speech contest in Toastmasters Club?
: It was a huge honor! It was a stiff competition to begin with. I have never been to any speech competitions before. I competed with three good speakers from other corporate clubs namely, Airspeed (our neighboring club), DHL and BOC. I was the last one who spoke so there was lingering nervousness in me all throughout the contest. It’s like there was nothing in my head but air! When my name was called in as the winner, I said, “It was all worth it.” And I said a silent thanks to God.

Q: What were your preparations? In what specific areas do you deemed you still need to improve on in preparation now to the upcoming division speech contest?
: I draw mutual support from my fellow Toastmasters like Perps, Raul, Rohit and Luz. I also practiced a lot and continuously prayed to God for strength. I was hoping I could conquer my fear and the ideas would flow as smoothly as possible. My end in mind was to inspire the audience through my speech, not to compete with fellow contestants. After the speech contest, our Area Governor advised me to work hard on my facial expressions, body gestures and vocal variety (especially with differentiating characters I imitate!). I totally agree with her. I hope right now that Perps, Rohit, Raul, Luz and the rest of the gang will stick around to help me hone on those specific areas.

Q: What’s your best advice to prepared speech contest wannabes?
Prepare. Practice. Pray. Listen to the people as they evaluate you, as they give you feedback. Then, show up in the contest. As the saying goes, “90% of success is just showing up.” Somehow, it is true.

Q: How did Toastmasters help to you?
Toastmasters has become an important part in my life. It has changed the way I speak and write in English. Although there are still a lot of things I need to improve on yet without a sheer doubt, Toastmasters has given me the confidence I am expected to have at work. I regularly communicate with our foreign clients and with my English-speaking bosses. Speaking good English is a must. Now I can say, I am a better and more effective communicator than ever before and I owe it all to Toastmasters.

Story 2: The Man Who Bravely Stopped the Jinx

Toastmaster Raul Escandor, CC/CL was also a charter member back in 2000. Since then, he has assumed numerous club positions such as Protocol Officer (then Sergeant-at-Arms), Secretary and Vice-President for Education. His huge break in Toastmasters was in 2005, when he was elected as the Club President. His presidential term was known to everyone as a break to that vicious cycle of resigning club presidents; it was also the turning point when Toastmasters club has got its feet back. Now the Past President, he now serves as a consultant and adviser in the club, while he aims to achieve his Advanced Communicator norm at the same time.

Raul is never new to speech contests. Last 2005, he joined and won the Area 75 Humorous speech contest. This year, he joined the Evaluation speech contest.

Q: You’ve been through a lot of speech contests. What makes this contest different this time?
It is my first time to join an evaluation speech contest. And it is also my first time for not witnessing the performance of other contestants. I was the last contestant and had gotten isolated in a room before I came to speak. It would have been more rewarding if I was able to see and listen to the evaluation of my fellow contestants.

Q: In case one encounters a test speaker for evaluation who he thinks he wouldn’t find any areas to improve on, what would be the best evaluation strategy you could advice?
I believe there is neither a perfect speech nor a perfect speaker. I can always spot areas of which the speaker may improve on. Actually, you may spot one or two areas. Limit to that number and focus more on your recommendations. Never make your evaluation sound personal by avoiding saying phrases like “I think” or “I believe.”

Story 3: A Novice Who Never Failed Speaking On His Feet

Toastmaster Rohit Wad may be considered a Toastmasters baby, yet he bravely joined the speech contest! Though hesitant at first about joining the club, Rohit joined Toastmasters last year after attending a few club meetings. As he had once said, he liked getting the chance to improve his public speaking skills in front of the people who he knew. Apparently according to him, Toastmasters has not only helped him gain his self-confidence but also applying at work what he has learned in the club, on more than one occasion.

Q: Answering questions on the spot is surely taxing, isn’t it? How did you manage?
Answering questions on the spot can either be very easy, or very difficult, depending on the topic being asked. From practice and experience (at the contest), I noted that my main area for improvement wasn’t so much about the topic, but losing my train of thought while speaking. Since you only have two minutes to speak, it was much easier for me to end my speech quickly, so as to minimize my nervousness.

Q: As a first timer in this competition, what did you learn?
Considering it was my first time in a speech contest, I felt I did well in the sense that I confirmed what my main area for improvement was, and that was keeping on topic, even if that meant repeating what I was saying.

Division K Speech Contest will be held on April 14 at the Bureau of Customs in Paranaque City. Let us wish Toastmaster Espie the best of luck!

About the Correspondent
Perps Poblador, CC/CL is currently the Immediate Past President of SPi Toastmasters Club. She isn’t new to speech contests as she already competed in Impromptu Speaking and Prepared Speech Contests. Now called upon to judge in speech contests for several times, she shares her two-cents' worth to speech contest wannabes. First, prepare, practice and seek feedback from peers. Second, confront your fear. Be aware of what triggers that fear. Find your own way of overcoming it. Lastly, if you win, stay grounded and remain humble. If you lose, keep on learning and improving your speaking skill.

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