Toastmasters Opening Addresses

At the Toastmasters club in office, I’ve been giving opening addresses at the weekly meetings. I promised some colleagues that I’d start keeping a record of these,so to catch up here are the last 5.

Complaining:

When was the last time you complained about something? OK- what did you complain about yesterday? (Someone said computers). Great. When did you last say something good about your computer? (the audience didn’t have much to say).

I recently listened to Mahatria talk about a similar case. He said, when something bad happens we complain and tell many people. But when something good happens, we dont talk about it much. His challenge was for us to not talk about the bad with anybody and also talk about the good to atleast 5 people.

So if you didn’t find today’s meeting useful, please don’t tell anyone. But if you enjoyed yourself, liked the positive environment and thought you would learn something – go tell other people.

How heavy is the glass of water?

How heavy is a glass of water? ( answers started with depends to glass specifics and settled on a few grams). Great. So how hard is it to hold that glass of water? (not very). Ok how about holding it for a minute? (ok can do) How about an hour? (my hands may pain)

Well thats the point – don’t hold too many things in your head. If you need to discuss them, please do. Don’t keep them stuck in your head, you’ll feel much better if you just discussed them. It’s ok to ask for help and if you need a pair of ears to listen- you know where to find me. Have a lovely weekend!

Rakshabandhan

The Barclays Singapore Toastmasters Club hosted its humorous and evaluation contest yesterday. After the contest I received a flood of whatsapp messages about what happened and how it compared to previous year contests. I felt like I was there and I felt happy for everyone. That’s also when I realised that they all reached out to tell me about it and helped me feel like I was still a part of that club. It meant that actually, they were behaving more like a family and less like just a club. I realised that I was part of the family.

Given tomorrow is Rakshabandhan tomorrow – we should aim to build a family here too, a community of brothers and sisters who will help each other grow. I don’t know how we can get there, but I know that families always have something to eat. So as a first step, I’ve brought chocolates for all of us. I will place it in the Members’ corner and hope we can share some food each week. Here’s to the Barclays Pune Toastmasters family. Happy Rakshabandhan.

The underdog

Have you heard of underdogs? Who are they? (some answers). Ya I guess its like Kenya in a cricket match. The beauty of underdogs is that we love them and want them to succeed. Yatharth wrote about underdogs recently and posed an important question. He asks if you back the ultimate underdog – yourself? Did you back yourself? Did you give yourself a chance?

I know many of you have come here to develop your communication skills. Don’t wait. You can be a better version of yourself. All it takes is for you to give yourself a chance- to use this platform, to start speaking and to start growing. Please let me know how I can help you. Wishing you the best.

STAR and Deliberate Practice 

This opening address was a 15 minute segment – behaving as a combination of an educational segment and an opening address. There were 2 main components:

  1. People wrote stories and we analysed the stories with the STAR framework, checked if stories can be improved and discussed how such frameworks make it easier for us to communicate:
    • S – Setting – What is the backdrop? (Crow was thirsty)
    • T – Target – What was the protagonist looking to achieve? (Crow wanted to drink the water in the bottom of a pot)
    • A – Action – What did the protagonist do? (Crow dropped stones)
    • R – Result – What happened? (Crow drank water)
  2. The biggest stars built their skills on deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is best described using the routines sportsmen use – they practice a particular routine over and over again  as opposed to gameplay. Yet at work, we are only engaged in gameplay – never consciously practicing skills. One way to do the latter is to use specific frameworks and analyse ourselves. So you can use the STAR framework to see if you are communicating effectively at work. In crunch situations another useful framework is the “Situation-Complication-Response” model. Ex: “The application has broken down, there is nobody in the office to fix it and so I will do XYZ”

So become conscious about what you say and be deliberate. Look for ways to improve it and your communication will also improve tremendously. Use things like the STAR framework, and start communicating like a STAR. Good luck.

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Birthdays…

I’ve gone through swings in how I think of Birthdays.

My earliest memory of a birthday was a party early one morning in my dad’s office. I was probably 3. My relatives had all gathered around. I was excited about new socks. (and that book about whales). At 5 we had a massive party on my terrace. With a guitarist, a Charlie Chaplin and a magician (and his rabbit). Friends and teachers from school were there and I remember all the gifts. One also spelt my name “Wick Rum”.

The next few years had variations of celebrations with friends. Cutlets seem to be a mainstay of the menu at these celebrations. One birthday celebration coincided with exam season, so my mom designed games that prepared us for the exam.  When I got too-cool to celebrate with a party in school, I went out with parents and relatives. A cake at the pool-side with many relatives and my over sized yellow t-shirt. Eventually I grew into it – so investment 😛

University had a further myriad of celebrations. The first had 100s (at least in my head) show up at midnight to splatter cake on my face and give me my deserving birthday bums.The next had fewer folks at midnight but they decided not to waste the cake – instead it was eggs, flour and a drop into a dirty pond. There were birthday treats that costed 70$ – massive at that point and I felt like I was going way over budget. 

Birthday in Sweden perhaps had the best surprise ever. A bunch of friends waiting in the corner of a train station for me to show up. (yes there was cake and I also almost ran into a train and missed them). There were more variations of birthdays since – combined meal treats, a house party, quiet dinners and DUMPLINGS! Blood donations, food distribution, charity campaigns, and this one attempt at telling 100 people a story of a girl to collect a dollar from each person.

There are plenty other stories about my birthdays. Each story brings back more memories about the people involved and gives me great joy. I am starting to like birthday celebrations again in my own funny way – not because of the birthday celebration and not because I grew a year older; but because its a chance to reflect about the numerous people who’ve graced my life. Its an opportunity to celebrate the many people who’ve shaped me to be who I am.

Thank you for influencing my life in the small or large way that you have.So thank you for the gift of your presence in my life. If you wish to give me more presen(ts)ce- a quick message that we can use to kick off a conversation would be lovely!

Avi reminded me this morning that birthdays are an opportunity to celebrate achievements & successes. It was a timely reminder to complete this post.