Competent Communication Manual Project 10: Inspire Your Audience

An inspirational speech motivates an audience to improve personally, emotionally, professionally or spiritually and relies heavily on emotional appeal. It brings the audience together in a mood of fellowship and shared desire, builds the audience's enthusiasm, then proposes a change or plan and appeals to the audience to adopt this change or plan.

1. To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
2. Appeal to the audience's and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama
3. Avoid using notes

Eight to 10 minutes



My Journey As A Toastmaster

March 2010

Club President, District Officers (if any), Fellow Toastmasters, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Back in 1992, shortly after I arrived in Singapore, somebody introduced me to a toastmaster’s chapter meeting. That was a mandarin club, in Singapore Institution of Management. Many members were from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. I was moved that there were so many eloquent speakers around, speaking in my native language. When I was invited to say a few words as a guest at the end of meeting, I had butterflies fluttering in my stomach. At the end of meeting, the “Ah” counter reported that I got 30 plus “pause fillers”, the term I did not know until I became a toastmaster. Nevertheless, the meeting, the speeches and the atmosphere are still inside my memories. Then there was a first national speech contest in mandarin. A fellow Singaporean encouraged me to take part in. He told me that I had definite language advantages. I took up the challenge but ended in the second round. That was my initial toastmaster’s experience. It was new, pleasant, interesting yet challenging. I wish I could speak like those experienced speakers, talking on and on as a great orator.

17 years passed. I was busy with my career along the journey, struggling to earn my bread and butter and had no time to think about the toastmasters. I did encounter numerous English communication problems both in my work and life, especially when it comes to speaking to a group of people. I realized that I had to strengthen my English communication skill, the importance of the tool can’t be emphasized more. It is liken to a woodcutter’s axe which must be sharp and sheer.

The story goes that once there was a woodcutter. He used to work very hard but could only cut 2 trees a day. He was not happy. He worked even harder, but could only cut 3 trees a day. One day, a wise man advised him to spend some time in sharpening his axe, the only tool the woodcutter had. The woodcutter followed the wise man’s advice and he was able to fell more than 4 trees a day.

So the axe was important to the woodcutter. I have searched high and low to find the way to sharpen my axe – the language and communication skill. Finally, I got it! You know what is it? It is the Toastmasters!

I resumed my toastmaster’s journey when I came across the speech craft course flyer from the Zhenghua Community Club. The speech craft was a preparatory course leading to the membership of toastmasters. That was in May 2008. This time, the course and toastmaster, of course, were not in mandarin, but in English. From there, I got to know what the toastmasters were about. I joined this CC’s toastmasters’ club after the course. Toastmaster is a member self-help learning club. We help each other. We learn by doing. I am determined that I shall make use of this opportunity to drive myself on the learning expressway, the PIE, to reach my destination. PIE here does not stand for “Pan-Island Expressway” in Singapore, but for “Perseverance, continuous Improvement and Eager to learn”.

- Perseverance. I attend the chapter meeting regularly. I find the appropriate topics, prepare the script in advance, revise it, rehearse the speech at home until I am satisfied, and deliver it to the meeting.
- Improvement. The preceding process improves my writing and speaking skills.
- Eager to Learn. I study the toastmaster’s manual, observe other toastmasters’ presentations, and listen to my fellow toastmasters’ feedback, especially my evaluators’ suggestions. They are constructive and valuable that I eagerly want to learn and practice. That’s my version of “PIE”.

I always admire my fellow toastmasters like Alan and Lim Wei, who are able to talk off the cuff, confidently and smoothly. I wonder if that’s part of their inherent capabilities. Anyway, I hope one day I can do that.

Visiting other toastmasters’ clubs is another way of learning. Let me share with you some of my observations. I remember when I first visited Choa Chu Kang CC Toastmasters’ Club. The neighbouring club was chartered much earlier than us, in 1995, so it’s well established. I was impressed, albeit a little amazed, by their way of presenting the toastmaster’s manual to the newly joined toastmasters. The new members were lined up on stage and the president bestowed on the new members the copy of the “New Member Kit”. Thereafter, it was the pledge taken by all led by the president. At the end of meeting, those speakers who committed repeated “pause fillers” had to pay $1 fine. The meeting concluded with a round of coffee in the nearby coffee shop. Not bad practice, isn’t it?

When it comes to our chapter meeting, as VPE of this club entrusted by my fellow members, I have to prepare the meeting schedule every month. First I have to arrange prepared speakers and meeting appointment holders. By the way, I understand from our sister clubs like Choa Chu Kang and Fuchun, the members there are enthusiastic in wanting to deliver their speeches that they have to book the speech slot 2 or 3 months in advance. That’s one of the great points we can learn from them. Secondly and the most challenging job is to get the experienced visiting toastmasters outside our club to attend our meetings. This is another reason of visiting other toastmasters clubs to personally invite some good speakers to join our meetings to act as Language Evaluator and Project Evaluators. The whole process of the engagements I’ve just talked about, according to the toastmasters competent leadership manual, is in tandem with the competent communicator projects we are all doing now and adds the credits to the competent leadership records. Here I am looking forward to my successor, the VPE of next exco, to do better in improving our members’ involvement and raise our meeting quality.

With this Project 10 presentation, I am reaching my first milestone on the “PIE” along the Competent Communicator, the title prescribed by the Toastmasters International manual. But the journey does not stop here. As one toastmaster wrote in his blog:

“Being a toastmaster is a life-changing experience. It not only broadens your opportunities but gives you purpose in your life. Deep down in everyone lies a talent that can only be discovered when we stretch out in the dark.”

How true the interpretation is! Toastmasters program is an educational endeavor. It provides its members with an opportunity to develop oral communication and public speaking skills. It also fosters self-confidence and personal growth.

I encourage my fellow toastmasters: your desire for success in competent communicator will come true through your continuous learning, practice and engagement. As Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher said: “The Learning is not child's play; we cannot learn without pain”. In other words, no pain, no gain. But the pleasure comes from the journey when we overcome pains. Let’s renew our promise and move on starting from this new decade, new year, that is, 2010, now!