Free to Dream..Free to Live..Free to Express..Free to Blossom
Toastmasters is an International nonprofit organization under which hundred of thousands of community public speaking clubs operate all over the globe . I joined one Dubai club at the invitation of one friend. I was impressed by how organized and well-structured the meeting was, by the energy, wisdom, and high spirit the members bring in, and of course by the confident, inspiring, and eloquent speeches. I immediately decide to join. Upon processing the membership request the newly-joined TM (short for Toastmaster) will receive her competent communication projects manual. And with the assistance of the elected Education VP (yes there are leadership roles and annual elections!) the TM will be assigned to do different leadership roles and to deliver his first ten projects before the next milestone. At his next meeting after confirming his membership, the new member will receive an orientation session as well as an induction for new members where he will be repeating the Toasmaster’s Promise, of commitment, good preparation, courtesy, and honesty, in front of the rest of the members and everyone else would also repeat their promise to support him back.
Every meeting has a theme that is prepared and directed by one Toastmaster of The Day (TMOD). The meeting is organized around the following sections, where each part shall not exceed a specific timeline monitored by the timer of the day: a) the word of the day which delivered by the Wordmaster of the day, b) the project speeches, c) the table topics where a topic is presented and randomly selected members will come forward to speak about the topic in 1-2 minutes, d) evaluation section, and e) the closing reports and ceremony where trophies will be distributed to best speech, evaluation, and role.
To most people speaking in front of a crowd is something that may cause some nervousness at the least, even if they are veterans in their presentation, communication, or management skills. I felt a bit nervousness when I was called to speak on my feet in one table topic. Although I managed to think fast on a good paragraph that I need to deliver in only 1-2 minutes but I had to cut is short when I felt my voice is starting to shake a bit.
But when I got my first speech assigned, I had to rehearse well as rehearsal is very effective way to overcome this nervousness at the beginning. I did my part, sent it to my sweet mentor who replied with very good feedback, and went there prepared. The first project is called the Ice Breaker where all required is for the speaker to tell something about herself. And so I did. It went really good and I received very good feedback from my fellow TMs about how confident and interesting it was. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I found the speech flowing almost so smoothly with steady tone, in spite of the theme of the meeting being “PARANORMAL”, and despite all the attempts of the wonderful TMOD to make it scary.
Below is my first speech. I am also attaching the meeting agenda for the meeting.
TM Club 7492
Date: 28th, Sep, 2015
“Manal” is the name my parents chose for me, and with it came a whole lifestyle and life orientation. In Arabic it is a noun for a verb that means: “to get”. “Get it right” as per my mother’s instructions. Her eyebrow was my actual compass. Get it right and it will go straight, get it otherwise and it will be raised in an angle proportional to how much I got it off the “right way”. The world was following a simple way of functioning: follow the rules. Everything has a protocol. All recipes have been successfully tested starting with my grand grandmother and following the line down to us the three children of a conservative family.
I was not the most abiding kid to ready-made recipes about perceptions on the world. I wanted to experiment my own spices. To learn more and know more. My favorite hobbies were the ones that would open for me new doors for discovery: reading, biking, and inventing cool ideas for my gang of little neighbours. One such idea was to prepare our weekly hand-made newsletter for the building. I was in charge of designing the comics and crossword puzzles. It was fun, but we had to stop it after few weeks as we got frustrated by the many corrections made by the readers. Another idea was to have our camp in the sandy space behind the building. We called it “the castle” and we devised our own code of conduct and assigned different roles. It was super fun experience to wear the godfather’s hat. But we also had to abandon our castle in few weeks after being robbed, apparently by some other competing gang! Then I had one crazy idea: pranks..scary ones! So here is one prank I directed. We picked the most weak-hearted among us and the whole gang took part in this conspiracy. So I invited them to our house while my parents were away and we all pretended that we knew something very disturbing. And when the main actress went inside my room we told the victim that we have strong reasons to believe that our friend is haunted. After a short while I came screaming and called them to come and see. My room was dark with only one dim red light at the back and between the two beds was our “allegedly-haunted” friend: with messy hair, popeye, white cover, and legs extending and flying in the air! (Will share with you the secret technique later on). Of course it ended with a storm of laughters, but I had to stop this new hobby as I spent a whole month having troubles getting to sleep at night due to the illusion that my body is trembling as a punishment by the spirits for what I did to my friend.
My days at college were less fun. “Garbage in, garbage out” was the first rule I studied in my first computing course. That rule rang a bell. It seemed a familiar reinforcement of my mom’s point of view. And I was back to systematic life. Acquiring a computer science degree and systems thinking skills and spending years working in system analysis and design seemed to have the muscles of my left hemisphere fit and in a good shape for a good while.
It is not until I got that little adorable creature whose only mission seems to be messing everything around the house, it was not until then that I could really see dad’s point of view: that it is OK to let go and allow some chaos in the world.
So, a new phase of my life had started after having my two little girls when I decided to explore and enjoy the right hemisphere perception and way of life. And a whole new life started. It is different from the left-side domination era where emphasis is on structure, rules, and analysis. It is more about seeing the full picture and synthesizing it into a creative meaningful form of story, poem, or design, or any form that would stir emotions.
So, here I am now delivering my first speech with my two hemispheres activated. I hope I got it “right” but in a joyful and artistic way.