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The Making of a CC

posted Feb 22, 2011, 2:35 PM by Tip Top
        by Helen Alvarado, CC, VPPR

Last Sunday, February 20th, 2011, was a good day for me.  Not only did I finish my last project from the CC manual, but also I won first place in the Club International Speech Contest.

Nine months have passed since I joined Tip Top.  My CC awards application has been submitted.  It is a good time to wrap up and to share, isn't it?

Speaking Without Notes

In 10 CC manual projects, I did 9 speeches without using any notes!  Political Correctness was the only one I couldn't memorize because that day I was trying to fix my home internet.

To use or not to use notes, does it matter?  I see great speeches having been done either way. Steve Jobs used notes for his famous Stanford Commencement Speech 2005.  However,  I always saw Joel Osteen baring his hands during his preaching.  I think they both are great speakers.

For me, I should memorize my speeches!  My spoken English is poor, but relatively, I consider my writing better.  If I read from notes, then I forget, and I get little or nothing; If I memorize my speech, then what I wrote would become part of me and I can use from now on!

Memorizing the speeches wasn't a piece of cake for me.  For each speech, very often I even couldn't read fluently at first!  Normally it took me 15 to 20 times to memorize a 5 to 7 minutes speech.

How Many Words Should I Write Down?

I struggled for a while to figure out how long a CC manual speech should be.  I still remember how I prepared my Ice Breaker speech "My Journey Never Ends". 

At first, I searched the internet on how many words an average people can say in one minute.  Based on that, I drafted my speech to about 900 words.  I timed it and realized it was too long for my speaking speed.  Writing is not easy, but deleting is harder, sometimes!  In the end at the meeting, my speech was still a few seconds too long!

After the first few projects,  I would say 3, I felt it became much easier for me to control the length of a speech draft.  700 to 720 words should be good for me and normally I could finish it around in 7 minutes.

My Husband Is My All Time Grammarian

My husband, Oliver, proof read all my papers and assignments for my Master's degree at SMU.   After I joined Toastmasters, he checked all my 10 CC speeches.  Very often either I missed a definite article or indefinite article, or I put one too many.  Till today,  I am still not very clear when I should use 'a/an' and 'the'. 

I was really grateful for one error Oliver found in my speech "What Makes the Difference?".  He has been nice when pointing out my grammar issues, but that day he all of a sudden shouted out "Oh, my God, what are you talking about?"  I didn't know what I did wrong and immediately got nervous.  "What?"  I asked carefully to hide my panic.  He recited from my draft, "They don't kick me out when I screw?"  Then he turned his face looking at me seriously, "Are you trying to say 'screw up'?"  I asked with doubt "is there a big difference between 'screw' and 'screw up'?" 

When he explained what 'screw' could mean, I felt I was so lucky that he found it before I went to the meeting!  I still feel fear whenever I think about it.

Time Is Fair

Maybe doing a speech is like cooking - elaborately prepared meals tastes better than microwaved fast food? 

When I just joined the club, I had lots of time working on my speeches.  I took time on the research, on the writing and on the rehearsing.  I did pretty good on my first 4 speeches. 

After that,  I got a new job.  Some many small troubles, like my car breaking down, also came to join the 'fun'.  For a while, I felt my whole world was upset down.   Instead of delivering good quality speeches, making them quick became the goal. 

I was thinking to do the 10th speech in Jan.  Since Club International Speech Contest was coming, I postpone it to Feb 20th.  Just like my first a few speeches, I got serious and spent lots time on it.  Time is fair - I won.

Also, I have a feeling that a good speech comes from good writing; good writing comes from extensive reading.  All in all, it is about how much time you put into it!