Archive for August, 2009

My Toastmasters Project #2. Here it goes

(I don’t remember the speech word by word but it was something like this)



How many of you have seen movies like Aliens, Species, Mars attacks, Independence day, Star wars, Men in Black, Predator, Transformers, koi milgaya? What is common among all these movies?


Dear toastmasters, Mr.Toastmaster and guests. I have a question to ask you.

Are we alone? Are we alone in this 15 Billion year old super big ever expanding universe?

We desperately want the answer to be NO. Humans are social animals. Being the only life bearing planet of the universe would make us unique, but the fact is, it is boring. The movies I mentioned and numerous other movies have brought out the imagination in humans about the concept of existence of fellow beings somewhere. These movies have introduced the ideas and images of what aliens might look and act like.

When ever we think of aliens, we picture the face from one of these movies, but do they really exist?! what do they look like? To figure that out  various scientific organizations like NASA , Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence have invested billions of dollars building telescopes, space crafts, radio frequency emitters and observers to detect some clue about the existence of extraterrestrials.

Hundreds of greatest minds in the past believed in the existence. We all know about the theories and conspiracies surrounding this topic.

One of them is the famous Unidentified flying objects. Who hasn’t dreamt of  a fantasy joyride across universe sitting in a fancy flying saucer? Tens of UFO sightings have been documented across the world. In the year 1940, a huge UFO was spotted at Los Angeles and thousands of rounds of artillery was fired by US airforce. People even believe that the United states has already established contact with the Aliens who had come in those UFOs and covering it.

Another famous theory to support the existence is the Bermuda triangle. Hundreds of vessels, aircrafts have disappeared in mysterious circumstances which fall beyond the boundaries of human error, equipment failures and natural disasters .Popular belief is that this place is kind of a testing lab for the extraterrestrials who are studying the Earth! If you happened to pass through the Bermuda triangle, don’t be surprised if you wake up and find yourself operated by weird creatures!

Some scientific religions think that God was an alien and Earth is his galactic nursery and no contact will be established until we have reached an adequate stage in our development!

These theories have evolved because we want to believe that there is someone in the universe to give us company. Even if there is no one out there, this false impression and hope will help us investigate and explore the depth of universe and provide us better understanding of it. But if they exist, it would open up numerous questions and possibilities. Are they the only other life form outside the earth? How do they look? How primitive or advanced is their technology? do they have space ships? Is it possible for us to co-exist with them? can we make this universe a better place joining our forces? Or are they, like in the Independence day, the “Destroyers”? Do we have to engage ourselves in a war with them?

How far are we in this search? Our eyes in space Hubble, Chandra and others have explored so much that nobody now expects ‘advanced life’ on any of the planets or moons in our Solar System. But our Sun is just one star among billions. And in the vastness of space far beyond our own Solar System we can rule out nothing. But until we find them, one question will continue to haunt us; ARE WE ALONE?


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Toastmasters official logo

Toastmasters official logo

Speech #2: Organize Your Speech

Executive Summary

Good speech organization is essential if your audience is to follow and understand your presentation. You must take the time to put your ideas together in an orderly manner. You can organize your speech in several different ways; choose the outline that best suits your topic. The opening should catch the audience’s attention, the body must support the idea you want to convey, and the conclusion should reinforce your ideas and be memorable. Transitions between thoughts should be smooth.


  • Select an appropriate outline which allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech.
  • Make your message clear, with supporting material directly contributing to that message.
  • Use appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another.
  • Create strong opening and conclusion.
  • TIME: Five to seven minutes.

Select Your Topic: Ideas

Your first step in creating your speech is to decide what to talk about. Novice speakers sometimes find this difficult. The world is full of possible speech topics. Your challenge is to select the best one for you and your audience. Finding a topic doesn’t require special ability or long hours of research or thought. Consider, for example,

  • Discussions you’ve had with friends or coworkers
  • Magazine or newspapers articles that attracted your interest
  • Your expertise on certain topics – real estate, writing, personal computers, etc.
  • Everyday experiences – shopping, commuting, family relationships.


The opening should immediately catch the audience’s attention and tell the audience what you will be talking about. Examples of a good opening are:

  • A startling question or a challenging statement
  • An appropriate quotation, illustration or story
  • A display of some object or picture
  • An attention-getting generalization that ties in with your subject

Avoid these weak openings:

  • An apologetic statement
  • A story or joke that does not relate to your topic
  • A commonplace observation delivered in a commonplace manner
  • A long or slow-moving statement or story
  • A trite question, such as “Did you ever stop to think…?”

Draft the Body

The body is the main part of your speech and consists of the facts or ideas you want to present. The amount of information you include in the body will be limited by the amount of time available.

Supporting material then follows each subpoint. Supporting material can include:

  • Statistics. These are numerical ways of conveying information about incidents, data and events.
  • Testimony. These are quotes or opinions from people with expertise on the matter.
  • Examples, stories or anecdotes. These usually relate an event that happened to you or some?one you know, or someone you’ve read about.
  • Visual aids. These could be diagrams, charts, pictures, models or other objects. (More information about using visual aids appears in Project 8.)
  • Facts. Facts are verifiable information.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is your final opportunity to convey your message and main points in a manner that will help the audience remember them. It should reinforce your ideas and leave listeners with a lasting impression.

Sample speeches:
Are we alone?
First Person Shooters: A History of FPS Gaming

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Ice Breaker is the first prepared speech given by member at Toastmasters club. Ice breaker (or Icebreaker) is a term which describes an activity which reduces tension and anxiety in a group. This speech is mainly to overcome Glossophobia – which means fear of public speaking.


The Ice Breaker speech has three aims:

  1. Introduce yourself : Your ice breaker speech topic is you – something about your life, your job, your hobbies, your unique interests, your family, or any thing . You are an absolute authority on this topic, and everyone in the audience will learn something about you.
  2. Conquer the fear of speaking in front of a group.
    It is nervewracking when speaking in front of a new group. If you feel this nervousness, remember that a Toastmaster audience is always supportive and understanding. Nobody is grading you, and nobody will mind if you stumble through a million “Um”s and “Ah”s. If you muster courage to say something in front of the audience, you have succeeded in this project.
  3. Provide a “base line” of your current strengths and weaknesses.
    Some new members have no public speaking experience, while others have years of presentations behind them. No matter where you fit into this spectrum, your goal is to improve from your starting point. This first speech helps club members gauge your current strengths so that they can make specific recommendations to help you improve.

Key to tackling project 1 are

  1. Attitude
  2. Selection of points
  3. Staying within time limits
  4. Opening,Body and Conclusion

Note: Notes can be used if one feel nervous.

What Not to do?

  • Don’t wait until you have a perfect speech. There is no perfect speech.
  • Don’t worry about making mistakes.
  • Don’t memorize every single word of the speech. Just memorize the opening.
  • Don’t give every single detail of your life.
  • Don’t skip your preparation or practice.
  • Don’t worry about body language.

Some Ideas for ICE BREAKER

  • Chronological – This is the simplest in which you narrate chronological snapshots of your life.
  • Reverse chronology – You start with present and link the events backwards to your birth. This is what I chose for my Icebreaker. I took the concept of the movie “Curious case of Benjamin Button” and adapted it to sequence of events that happened in my life.
  • One Key Event – Focus on one critical event which took your life in a completely different direction.
  • Event Chain – The series of events that made you take a decision that led to where you are now. This is a series of decisions you took in your life.

Some examples:

Video example

Go Ahead, Talk !

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Well I found this at a restaurant in Mussourie (Uttaranchal) . Laughed my kidneys out after seeing this. Couldn’t help posting it

Dare order this!

Dare order this!

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Toastmasters is a nonprofit organization now has nearly 250,000 members in more than 12,500 clubs in 106 countries, offering a proven – and enjoyable! – way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills.

The official Toastmaster Logo

The official Toastmaster Logo

Most Toastmasters meetings are comprised of approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants practice and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian.

There is no instructor; instead, each speech and meeting is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right and what could be improved.adopts a “learn-by-doing” philosophy, wherein each member learns at a pace suitable to his or her developmental needs. The Toastmasters program is divided into two separate tracks, Communication and Leadership, with members progressing along each track by presenting speeches and taking on roles within their club, district, and Toastmasters International itself.

I joined the club named YSPEAK, which is Yahoo Bangalore edition of Toastmaster International sometime back and learnt how sheer fun being part of it is. Taking time off for an hour every week and participating in such platform not only freshens my mind but also help bring out a speaker in me.

Usually our club has 4 sessions at every meet.
1. Introduction sesion : This is mainly to address guests of the meeting to provide info about the rules of the meeting and roles of the officers present at the meeting.
2. Prepared speech : There will be 1-3 prepared speech(project 1 to 10) during this session.
3. Table topics round : This is a fun and impromptu session which might involve one of Spin off, JAM, Air-crash, et.al.
4. Evaluation round : The evaluation session is where feedback is provided to all members, including the speakers. The evaluation session is headed by a General Evaluator, who calls on individual speech evaluators to give a 2- to 3-minute evaluation of an earlier presentation. After the evaluators have finished giving their evaluations, the General Evaluator calls for the helper reports:

* There is a Grammarian who notes mispronunciations and mistakes in grammar, or word repetition.
* An Ah-Counter keeps track of audible pauses such as “ah,” “er,” “um,” “well,” and “you know”. These are also called ’embolalia’, which are naturally-occurring pauses or fillers in the flow of a speech.
* The meeting’s Timer reports how much time each speaker, table topics responder, and evaluator took to give his or her presentation. Then the General Evaluator, or Master Evaluator, gives his or her overall evaluation of the meeting and makes recommendations of ways to improve future meetings.

There are number of editions in Bangalore the most famous being Bangalore Toastmasters club which met every Friday 6:15 PM at St.Joseph’s college. There is no absolute necessity of being a member of a club. One can get a feel of the club by attending it as a guest. Guests are also allowed to participate in the table topic round too.

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