I Can Be Better

When i joined toastmasters back seven or eight years ago, I joined without knowing what Toastmasters was. All I knew was that it was an interest group for speakers.

I remember my first meeting. I was sitting right there and I happened to meet a friend – a friend whom I haven’t met for a very long time. Because he joined, I joined!

And that was the start of my Toastmasters journey.

After i joined,I realised that Toastmasters isn’t just a club for speakers. It was a club for people who wants to learn public speaking. I told myself “Hey, I think I’m pretty good at it. I mean, at that time, I was in sales, I was speaking to people every day. I was speaking the clients, I was speaking to my colleagues, or speaking to stakeholders. I think I can ace this program.”

So i signed up for my first project.

I prepared really hard for it. Because it was a project to introduce myself, I wrote a lot about myself. There’s so much about myself I want to tell everyone. i wrote about my travels, I wrote my interests, my family, my pet, everything!

It was over a thousand words long for a six minute speech and I told myself, “I’m gonna wing it!”

The day came. I’d be speaking to this club for the very first time. I told myself, “Hey it’s okay. It’s just a performance, and I’m very used to it.”

So i delivered those 1000 words like a pro. I was animated. I told my story. I was excited to share what I had to share.

At that time, to me, I thought it was a piece of cake.

When i finished my speech, I went back to my seat. I remembered some of the senior members shook my hands, gave me a high five, and i thought, “Wow, I think i did a good job!”

After break, my evaluator back then was this lady called Anne Tiong. I’ll always remember her evaluation. Because I believe that she would have given me a lot of praises for the performance. True enough, she shared with me what I did well.

But almost immediately, these words came up from her mouth.

“Clement you were too fast. Most of us cannot make out what you were saying. You said so much, but we didn’t know anything about you. You had so many actions. It was very animated, but it was also very distracting. Young man there’s a lot of improvement that you have to make in your speaking!”

These words pierced my heart. It was a reality check for me.

Yes i speak too fast. But is it really a problem?
I may speak a lot sometimes. But is it really a problem?
I can be very animated when i speak. But is it really a problem?

Throughout the whole meeting, I still smiled but at the back of my smile, I was crushed. At that moment, I didn’t want to complete Toastmasters. I thought that this might be my first and my last meeting.

The next day when i went to work, Anne’s words still lingered in my mind.

I found myself very cautious when I was talking to my clients, talking to my colleagues, but i realised, i couldn’t control myself.

Naturally i spoke fast. If I tried to slow down, I couldn’t.
Naturally had a lot of hand movements. I tried to restrict them, but i felt very uncomfortable.
I tried to restrict what i was saying but there was a lot at the tip of my tongue I couldn’t hold back.

And that was when I realised, I can be better.

So immediately i texted the VPE and said I wanted to do my second speech.

That time my VPE was, Anne Tiong.

For the second project, I practiced really hard. I stood in front of the mirror and I practiced. I took my phone, I recorded myself, and I watched myself almost a million times. Each time I asked myself,

“Is this too fast? Can i be better?”
“Is this too many words? Can i be better?”
“Is this too much movement? Can i be better?”
“Is there any other way for this speech that, I can be better?”

There was. And every single project in my Toastmasters journey, I pushed my boundaries. I tried to be better than my previous project.

I’ve been in Toastmasters for about six to seven years and throughout my whole Toastmasters journey, this has guided me all the while – I can always be better.

I’m naturally entertaining but I want to be better.
I want to make people laugh.

I’m decent in evaluating but I know I can be better.
I want to be the best.

I can tell stories but I can be better.
I want to tell stories and make people cry.

So ladies and gentlemen, today I’m here starting on my second path and this is my third icebreaker.

Can i be better than my first two icebreakers?

I believe I want to be.

My third icebreaker it’s not just about me. I want to be here to do my best to inspire everyone here Toastmasters is about trying new things. It’s about pushing personal boundaries. It’s about exploring weaknesses or strengths you never knew you had.

And today I invite all of you to join me and walk this Toastmasters journey with me.

Because if I can always be better, so can all of you.

Thank you.

For Nidhi’s evaluation on this speech, click here.

Check out images from our meeting here.

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