Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Connect and Affect

I won my first speech contest in Toastmasters last Saturday morning! Woo hoo!!!!

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post to hear the audio of my speech and/or read the text.)

It was an Area contest which means that representatives from our club, Speak Out! Toastmasters, were competing against people from other clubs in the area. I was competing in the International speech competition and my friend Dana (in the photo) was competing in the Tall Tales competition.

As you can see in the photo, both of us won in each of our categories!

The International speech is supposed to be motivational/inspirational . . . .

A person who advances up the levels of this competition eventually competes at Toastmasters' International Convention at the end of summer where people from other countries will come to compete for the World Champion of Public Speaking title. LOL - wow, just typing that seemed super ambitious. How about for now, I focus on the next level of the contest which is competing at the Division level. There I'll compete against the winners of the 5 other area contests in our division. That's a bit intimidating for me because I know that the quality of competition will be so much better.

I was pretty happy with the response that I got from the audience. During the speech, I noticed people teary eyed, others smiling, and yet others giving me 'way-to-go' nods. I was really surprised at the way the speech was affecting people. I guess for an inspirational speech that's the kind of response I want, right? So i'm happy about that. Plus I got my first kewl little trophy for Toastmasters! I'm stoked about that!

Afterwards, me and my friends that came to support me all went out to Claim Jumper for a celebratory lunch. Fun times! It meant so much to me that they came and saw me but also that they celebrated with me afterwards.

I noticed later that day that it triggered weird feelings in me from my elementary years about the times that I was always sad when my parents missed out on awards nights or events or concerts or competitions that I was involved with. I was always wanting to make them proud but whenever I did well enough to be recognized, my family never got to see it and so I always felt like they never knew my real potential. I guess in many ways, I've felt that way most of my life. Hmm...maybe that's one reason why I'm an overachiever.....I'm still trying to make other people proud as if to validate myself. (Whoa, wasn't expecting that thought!)

So where was I? Oh, so I was very happy that these friends of mine came out to demonstrate their support. It really meant so much to me! (Thanks guys!)

Dana recorded our speeches and created an mp3 file of my speech for me. Even though I may be happy with the response I got from others about my speech, the perfectionist in me isn't so happy with hearing myself. After hearing the audio of it, I realize that I paused a lot during the speech. Some times, it was because of dramatic effect but other times it was because I was trying to remember the prepared speech. I know that I have much more work to do before the Division contest in two weeks. There are lots of places in the speech that can use some polishing up. I debated about whether or not I wanted to post the audio of the speech here for you to hear. I guess I'm doing it but just keep in mind that i'll be practicing much more. Plus, i've only been in Toastmasters for less than a year. =)

Either press the play button below or right click the link and 'Save As' to download the mp3 file:

Right Click Here to Download the Speech

Below is the text of the speech too in case you'd like to follow along. I don't think i'll be revising it too much for the next phase of the competition. I chose a topic for this contest that I could speak from my heart about. The message of "Connect and Affect" is one that I have been trying to live out myself while at the same time encouraging others to do the same. Hope you find it helpful and inspirational!

"Connect and Affect" by Eric Leocadio
Speech Delivered at Toastmasters' Area E-2 Contest in Long Beach, CA
April 7, 2007

Good morning - Toastmasters, distinguished guests, friends and family.

It was the Summer of 2006. I was in San Francisco for the first time and I had this bright idea of finding the Golden Gate Bridge all by myself. I drove around without a map. I just figured that I’d follow the signs to the “GG Bridge”. It seemed simple enough. I saw the bridge in the distance and headed toward it. I thought to myself, “I should be a tour guide! This was so easy!” I saw a pier with a really great view so I had my photo taken with the bridge prominently featured behind me as I posed like Superman after just conquering an incredible task.

I was so excited to show the picture to my friends and tell them about what a cinch it was to find. Then a friend told me, “Hey Superman, I hate to be the one to tell you this but – the Golden Gate Bridge – it’s orange not blue.”

You're kidding me! I was SO sure! I was telling everyone that this was the Golden Gate Bridge when it was actually the Oakland Bay Bridge! I was shocked and embarrassed.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m expected to be this red-caped super hero leader who knows exactly where we ought to go, but much of the time I feel like a Clark Kent stumbling through life just trying to figure out how to matter.

The prospect of changing the world can be overwhelming. So who am I to attempt such a feat? The vision is too lofty and the world is too big. I’m no Superman! I can’t do it alone. I need you! We need each other! We may not be able to change the entire world but perhaps we can simply strive to affect our own personal world – the place we live and the people we come in contact with. Together, we need to become the very heroes for which we cry out. We can be a community of heroes - simply trying to help in what ever way that we can.

Can you imagine what it could be like to see a formerly fragmented community working together towards a common cause greater than them? Imagine a community of such diversity that began to understand one another.

We can reinvent our world. How? With a campaign to connect and affect. We can be the catalyst for our community by bringing people together and developing meaningful relationships in meaningful ways.

Connect and affect.

We can start by investing in the relationships we have now. If we honestly nurture meaningful relationships among our own personal social circle by finding ways to regularly connect with them, then we will begin to establish history with each other and trust for one another. As we earn trust, we earn the privilege of speaking into each other’s lives. Thus, we are presented the opportunity to mutually affect one another.

While investing in the relationships we have today, we can also invest in our community. We live in cities that have needs. Why shouldn’t we serve those needs? We are citizens. It is our home. Let’s consciously and intentionally connect with our neighbors and local organizations, work to identify their needs, and find ways to mobilize support for them. We can take advantage of the opportunity to affect our community.

Once a month, I enjoy gathering a group of friends to participate in a 30-minute beach clean up with about a hundred other volunteers. There are men and women, fathers and mothers, children and dogs, school groups and youth groups – all coming together with a shared desire for a cleaner beach. It’s a fun way to see my neighbors!

We may not achieve the level of historical impact as heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. or Susan B. Anthony. Some of us may not even be able to find the Golden Gate Bridge without getting lost! But as we connect and affect with each other and with our community, we are making a difference!

Imagine what you could do in your city! Gather some friends together and adopt a street or beach to maintain. Help a widow by mowing her lawn or painting her home. Partner with a storefront business and sweep up their sidewalk. Be a mentor or tutor for a single-parent child. Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, love the lonely or care for the sick.

Maybe we can’t change the entire world. But we CAN change our own personal world - our family, our circle of friends, our communities, and our city. A hero is just a regular person who acts upon the belief that he or she can contribute to this world.

Take off the glasses, Clark. YOU are Superman.


Michael Donlan said...

Congrats Eric! I just won an area speech in Reading Pennsylvania back on March 31 and am going to the division champs on Saturday. One word of advice from someone who has competed on the division level before … and lost … embarrassingly. It’s a completely different level of competition. Practice hard and give your speech to anyone who will listen. The other competitors are there because they are the best in your division and at least one of them will be one of the best in the District.

I also have the text of my speech up on my blog. Check it out.

Eric said...

thanks Michael! i appreciate the advice.


Congrats on your win in PA! Good speech! =)

Unknown said...

I'm so proud to say "You're my friend..." I can't wait to see you in action next weekend. Hugs!