One more brick in the wall



Club Contest Speech on 10th Feb 2017, awarded first runner up .

Title : One more brick in the wall

Time : 5 – 7 Minutes


Sometimes we don’t know what we do, even worse; we don’t know why we do what we do! Good evening Toastmasters, guests & contest judges.

Two weeks ago I raised my hand to participate in this speech contest. I don’t know why I did that.

What made me sign up for this contest? What are my chances against these 4 speakers with 5 stars? Michael is a gifted narrator & an animated speaker. Bob can rob your attention with his high-quality words. Russ can impress you with his grace & style. Gladwin can win your confidence just by his stage presence. What’s my strength? Well, do I have any is a better question?

All these questions & arguments drove me crazy as I drove back home from the previous club meeting. By the time I reached home, I had made up my mind. I was determined to quit. I started to mentally draft my apology email to Wayne. I thought of skipping the club meeting today by citing my busy schedule as an excuse. Then I realized, this is my second meeting as a club member. Indians have this peculiar belief about missing the second step of a new journey.  We don’t miss the second day of a new school, second day of new job and second meeting of a new club. I had no choice but to speak!

Once I decided to stay in the contest, now the second challenge gripped my mind. What topic should I choose? What should be my focus? Should I inspire the audience? Or Entertain them or persuade them to adopt my viewpoints. I had umpteen vague ideas in my head, but not a concrete topic in my hand. I was pulling my hairs out despite being scared of losing them. A week went by, I still didn’t have a topic. On Friday night last week, I couldn’t sleep as these thoughts were buzzing in my head.

I sat on a chair, closed my eyes. I took a few deep & deliberate breaths. The thought ripples slowly faded and my mind became placid.

If my goal is to become a better communicator, then why am I resisting this speech? Why am I in stress? Where is my focus? Questions are the answer, I got my answer. My focus was the prize of contest. The prize of winning, the prize of admiration and the prize of appreciation.

Shifting focus on the prize derailed me and sprouted self-doubt in my mind. We all have experienced this in situations such as job interviews, sales presentations, writing exams or IQ tests. Poor performance is the price we pay, when we are preoccupied with the prize.

The moment I focused on my purpose, this speech became just another step in the process of becoming a better speaker. In other words, this speech is one more brick in the wall, not the wall by itself! This analogy was liberating; writing this speech became fun as I had no prize to win.

To achieve our purpose, we need to submit to the process ignoring this shiny object called prize. Process is of paramount importance in every aspect of our lives; whether it is bearing a child, nurturing a relationship, improving health or accumulating wealth. Process is progress!

Becoming an effective speaker too is a process, we just need to show up, stand up & speak up! And that’s exactly what I am doing today. I am glad I did not quit.

Whether you are an amateur or a matured speaker, the prize of appreciation will distract you. It will prevent you from making mistakes, experimenting & learning by doing.

You can see this in action, when you hesitate to take a meeting role or procrastinate delivering a speech or feel reluctant to participate in a speech contest. When that happens, just remember your purpose is more precious than the prize.

Every time we show up, stand up and speak up; we are placing one more brick in the wall and we are one step closer to building the wall.