Toastmasters, my second session

 Toastmasters workbook

Toastmasters in Toronto

Yesterday, I had my second session of Toastmasters (Youth Leadership Program version) and I was able to do my first speech!

Before the one hour-ish session, I prepped at home by writing out what I was going to say through my stenograph.  It always helps me to organize my thoughts to have it written down on paper first.  I knew what I was going to talk about for my Icebreaker speech.  I was going to talk about my passions in life, which consists of stenography (steno nerd), blogging, and trying out new experiences but in particular talking about Mon Sheong and how I started becoming involved with their youth program.

I’ve explained how I started in the field of stenography numerous times that I have it down pat but this was the first time that I had ever written it down in words.  It flowed out really well.  I might just copy and paste it down here just because (future reference and because I want to).  I’ve also explained how I started my blog quite a few times to people so again the words flowed really well.  I started with Mon Sheong in 2013 and really think that it’s one of the best youth programs out there for anyone aged 14 to 30 years who want to become more involved in their community and gain more skills.  There’s nothing to lose by joining this really well-put-together program that is always growing with lots of professional and financial assistance too to fund their workshops.

Anyway, when I arrived at the community centre just before 1 p.m., I settled back into the seat that I was in last week.  The arrangement of the room was the same as last week with all of the tables and chairs in a square U-formation.  This time though, they had a proper podium for the speakers to speak from.

Looking at the agenda, I was third in line to speak.  I always prefer to speak first to get the nerves over with but being third was fine too.

(Before leaving the house, I had read out what I had written once — I was over time and I wasn’t surprised about it because I always over share and especially when it comes to talking about things I’m really excited about.. how could I really shorten it?  I then practiced it again without reading it the notes and still I was over time.  Ah well.  I was going to try my best.)

There were new members representing each role this time and the word of the day was “veracious” which meant honest or accurate.  (Last week’s was “sentient”, being aware of conscious.)  The moment I heard it, I immediately knew that it was going to be so easy to incorporate into my speech because being a stenographer and listening to people talk all day is all reliant upon being veracious otherwise there’s no point to me taking down the record.  Anyway, I just had to make sure that I didn’t forget to use it during my speech.

This time for Table Topics, the one responsible for it chose a more broader subject and asked questions that nearly anyone would have an answer for.  Such questions included, “If your house was on fire, what single item would you grab with you?” and  “If you only had 24 hours left in your life, how would you spend it?”  He also gave specific school subjects and asked the chosen person to explain why that would be an important subject to learn.  It was a very lively discussion and I really liked hearing what people had to say.  I liked this week’s Table Topics better than last week’s.

When it came time to hearing the five speeches, the two speakers before me both had really short speeches (around the one minute and a half mark) so I knew that I was going to be taking up the majority of my allotted time.

Since there was a podium at the room this time, it did feel more comforting and comfortable to stand behind it to speak.  However, because I’m shorter than most people and the podium was quite large, I at first felt I had to tippy toe to peer over it.  However, I stood properly afterwards because it felt awkward to be tippy toeing during my speech.  XD.

I stuck to my structure of what I was going to say but in the first, I did fumble a bit until I found my footing.  Then it was like just telling a friend about my experiences because I really have told these experiences to people many times before.  I liked how almost everyone in the room was eager to hear about stenography because no one (except one person) raised their hand when I asked if they knew what this was.  I like telling people about stenography.  It’s a dying field unfortunately but I really think it’s still a crucial one that young people can pick up for a future career.

Anyway, I knew I was going over time.  The timer reporter already held up the red sheet of paper as I was finishing my speech.

When it came time to the evaluator portion, I was given feedback on my speech.  It wasn’t a surprise to know that I was asked to speak more loudly (I’ve been told that all my life during presentations) and that I could actually walk around to the front of the podium and have more stage presence.  Otherwise, my speech content and structure were great. 😀

At the end of the session before we ended, we had the Educational Presentation by one of the Toastmaster leaders.  Jasmine was a really good speaker and gave really helpful and practical tips on impromptu speaking, a topic that we had voted for during that week’s poll discussion on the Facebook group.  She talked about eye contact, body language, standing at different parts of the stage, left to middle to right to middle again, to signify the structural parts of the speech and also to signify chronological parts of the story.  I found this really great advice.  She also talked about the importance of pausing to capture the audience’s attention again.  She talked about involving the audience to ask a question (which I did :D).  For being stuck on a Table Topic, she suggested to change the subject slightly by saying “I don’t know much about this subject, but I know…” as a suitable way to speak.  I really liked her segment and she was so clear and concise.  I think last week’s five-minute presentation about the Role of the Evaluator by Isabella was just as powerful and concise.

At the end, I was given everyone’s feedback and comments sheets.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend next week’s final session since I’ll be doing some volunteer work in Scarborough but I have to say that this was a really great experience!  I felt totally like a fish out of water and uncomfortable to be put in the spot of speaking in public but again I think that these are good experiences to have.  It’s especially good when the association of Toastmasters International is a recognizable name that a lot of professional groups and individuals advocate.  It’s not “one of those things” at least.

Anyway, here’s a copy and paste version of the speech that I wrote up as a draft.  I didn’t speak it verbatim of course but the gist of my speech is all here:

Good afternoon, fellow Toastmasters and honoured guests.  I’m very happy to be amongst you all today to speak about myself and introduce to you some things about me.  I will be talking about three passions that I enjoy in my life.  First will be about my career and job, second will be about the food blog that I have, and third will be about how I became involved with Mon Sheong.

Firstly, I work in the field of court reporting.  A lot of people do not know what court reporting is.  Can I get a hand to see who knows what court reporting or stenography is?  I kind of guessed it.  Whenever I tell people that I’m a court reporter or stenographer, 90 percent of the time, people do not know what I do and I have to explain what it is.  I don’t mind explaining it even if it’s the 100th time because I love educating people about what it is that I do.  Court reporting or stenography is an old profession where we use a shorthand machine called a stenograph to transcribe what people say word for word, or verbatim.  It’s a quick way to capture speech into words.  It’s been necessary over time to capture what people say to make it into a transcript or to provide hard of hearing people with words so that they can follow along with the topic at hand.

The stenograph machine is a special keyboard made up of 22 keys where it is like playing a word piano.  Instead of typing out one letter at a time, the keys are arranged like a chord and you press several keys down together at the same time in order to make a syllable or part of a word.  For example, the left hand is responsible for the starting side of a word and the right hand is responsible for the ending side of a word.  The thumbs are responsible for the vowels.  When you press the keys together, it forms an entire word or even a phrase.  For example, in one stroke, I can write out the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” or “thank you very much”.  It is something that I really enjoy to do in my line of work.

I first began studying it when I was in my third year of university and also in my first year of the concurrent teacher education program.  My mom was the one who alerted me to it and I was able to check it out online and then go to the open house.  When I was there, I listened and watched as a stenographer wrote out in realtime exactly what was being said and all the words appeared on the screen.  I was so fascinated.  After the presentation, we went downstairs to the classroom where the students were.  I tried out one of the machines, wrote my first word and punctuation and then talked to one of the students there all night about it.  When I left the school, I knew that I wanted to start stenography that night.

After two years of school, I was able to work as a stenographer and now listen to hearings and court cases live as I type up the transcript.  It’s something that I really enjoy doing and I’m always learning something new.

Speaking of something new, I always love to travel and try new things.  Thus, when my friend told me about Mon Sheong and the Trip to China program in 2013, I was encouraged to apply for the program.  Getting to go on a trip to China with a group of amazing individuals all around the same age will forever be a memory and adventure that I will never forget.  I also love Mon Sheong for this reason because it gives youth like us an opportunity to travel, explore, meet new people, and expand our horizons.

After I went to the Trip to China, I also blogged about it on my blog so that I can always have the memories and photos there to remember it by.  I will now talk about how I first started my blog.  I remember I was coming home from a previous trip to Asia with my family where I went to Hong Kong and Taiwan.  I wanted a place to store my memories and photos and not just post them on to social media like Facebook.  I thought that Facebook was a very fleeting type of platform where after your photos are posted, people can like or comment on your photos but nothing else is done about it.  Thus, a day after I got home from the plane trip, I began my blog.  I named it “stenoodie” because it combines two of my passions: stenography and food! I’m a foodie.  Steno plus foodie.

Anyway, since then I have been dedicated and committed towards my blog by posting about my travel adventures, restaurants that I go to, and things that I experience.  I enjoy writing and I even use my stenograph to type up my adventures so that I can post blogs at a faster pace than many other people.

That is the end of my presentation and I really hope that you got to learn more about me and the things that I love to do. If you have any questions about stenography or my blog, you can ask me about it afterwards.  Thank you!

And there it is. 🙂


About stenoodie

I'm a stenographer, foodie, avid traveller, and new mom who loves to share her experiences with the world.
This entry was posted in Learning, New Experiences and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Toastmasters, my second session

  1. gchan7127 says:

    Thank you for sharing, Karen!! I really liked your speech and I felt like you’ve gained a lot from this experience! I’m so glad your blog is doing so well now. Your hard work has paid off. I hope your site continues to grow. ❤

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