The third of September was definitely a day to remember! The first Professional Development workshop for the year Speak to Lead was finally here. It was to take place right after the club meeting that day, and fellow Rotaractors from other clubs were also to join the session.
Having experienced a very thrilling and sensational public speaking workshop by our guest speaker Ms. Sachintha Gunaratne “Speak Up” the year before, the Rotaractors of Achievers were rather upbeat over this follow up session of Speak to Lead conducted by Sachintha herself again.
The workshop started off with a round of introductions with everyone introducing who they were. However, this wasn’t your typical introduction, unless you’re used to walking up on stage doing your own unique dance to Apache Indian’s ‘Boom Shakala’ while introducing yourself. It was the first step of Ms. Sachintha’s strategy of overcoming our fear of taking the stage: being comfortable and confident enough to embarrass ourselves! Everyone was on their feet having a good time, laughing at not only the silly antics put up by others but also over the silly dances each of us had to offer.
After that exciting introduction, we all settled down to listen to some key points on how to make our speech great. The most important aspect Ms. Sachintha stressed on was how we need to make our speech an extension of ourselves. In other words, it must be based on what we’re truly passionate about. According to her, this makes sure that our tone, facial expressions and gestures would all synchronize with our speech. Therefore, it makes it easier to make the best use of our body language as we’re speaking about something that naturally comes to us.
Afterwards she asked a few members what they were passionate about. She used this to bring out how we could potentially build powerful speeches from the ground up, using something that interests us or we are passionate about. She strongly suggested that instead of speaking on overused and generic topics, that we should use novel and abstract content that can maximize our engagement with our audience. At this point, she stressed on the importance of understanding our audience when delivering a speech, and how we need to put our place well in the audience. Ms. Sachintha also taught us how we can orient our speeches to what would engage the audience the best. An important tip to aide this which she pointed out was that we should always use language that refers to the audience, such as constantly using the word “YOU” which gives a strong impression to the audience that you are talking to them.
Seeing that the session was getting monotonous, Ms. Sachintha felt it was best that we try out an exercise where we try to bring out our expressions and our gestures. For this, she played a few songs where we had to sing-along while showcasing our emotions to bring out the meaning of the lyrics. She first played “Hello from the Other Side” by Adele where the crowd had to bring out their remorseful emotions with the words. After some time, the song was changed to “Sheela” by JayaSri which really got everyone riled up and full of energy. Everyone took turns to show their most passionate affection to their beloved කුමාරි Sheela. Some rotaractors really took it onto themselves, notably Rotaractor President Thisura who capitalized the opportunity to express his passionate feelings for someone a few rows behind him. (#ඒවිදෝමගේකුමාරි?).
Finally settling down after that exhilarating item, we next looked into what goes into the structure of a complete and powerful speech. Ms. Sachintha explained on how a amazing speech is like an amazing sandwich. The start needs to be charming enough to hold the audience attention from point get-go and the body must portray the strong message you want to convey, while the conclusion must end on a high note good enough that the audience would remember your speech for a long time. This brought us to the two essential factors we need to keep in mind while preparing our speeches which is “What you say” & “How you say it”.
Finally, to put everything we learnt into practice, we were given a few real world everyday scenarios where we would need to get up on stage and which are also situations where our nerves would get the best of us. Notable of those given scenarios was the Best man/Bridesmaid speech at your best friend’s wedding which was the topic all the speakers spoke about. One of the highlights of this item was Rtr. Oscar of RACIIT ’s speech for Rtr. Thisura’s supposed wedding, which was kept quite heartfelt.
The two subsequent speeches that followed by Rtr. Hasitha and Rtr. Asel didn’t see reason to hold back, and really went onto rip each other off! The item finally finished off with another heartfelt and well delivered bridesmaid speech by Rtr. President Methmini of RACUOCFOA, which ended the event on a high note.
Taking the standards of the last year’s workshop up another notch, Speak to Lead ended on an even higher note. Breaking the norms of a typical monotonous one-way public speaking workshops, we sang, we danced, we joked and we learnt. Making use of the fun but valuable tips we learnt, we will hopefully be able to not only break ground on our stage fright but to also embrace the speaker within us. Here’s to another amazing session organized by our PD team at RACALBS and we await more great events of this caliber to come!
Rtr. Asel Gunaratne