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中華民國演講協會榮獲經理人雜誌最受經理人歡迎三大社團之一。
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比賽常勝軍 單康寧/The Contest Chaser



1. You won several national contests from 2005 to 2007, ranging from Evaluation Contest(2nd place, 2005)Table Topics Contest(2nd place, 2007) and Prepared Speech Contest(2nd place, 2007). What motivated you to continuously join the contest?   

 

(1)  Reputation:  

To be honest, at the first time I joined the contest, all I wanted to win was the National Championship. I thought my life could be totally different if I won the National Championship. I would become a super star, everyone would want to get my autograph, or shake hands with me, things like that. Probably because of this kind of wrong attitude, I failed twice (2005, 2006) in the humorous speech contests.  
 

Although I failed to win the top 3 in humorous speech contests, strangely, many toastmasters still remembered me and my speeches (“Sandwich” and “Shoes”) for as long as 2 years. Every time when I joined a workshop or visited other clubs, some toastmasters came to me and said, “Oh, you are the person who delivered “ Sandwich ” and “Shoes”, right?” Then, they would tell me how impressive my speeches were and how much they were “entertained” by my speeches.
 

Frankly speaking, I quite enjoyed this kind of “compliment”! So, in order not to let my “fans” down, I decided to keep joining the contest. But at that time, I kept thinking “what makes a memorable speech?” When I listened to Angela Liu’s (2006 World Silver of Public Speaking) speech---“A Better Life”, in 2006 Fall Convention in Kaohsiung , I realized that it’s the VALUE of the speech that touches people’s heart and makes people remember it!  
 

Therefore, I joined the Prepared Speech Contest in 2007. Whenever coming up with an idea while choosing the speech topic, I asked myself, “What’s the VALUE I want to deliver to the audience in this speech?” Then, there came the “A+” in 2007 Spring Convention. 
 

(2)  VALUE Delivery: 
According to my personal observation, people remember a “good speaker” for 1 year, a “champion” for 3 year, “a speech with great value that touches his or her heart” for 10 years or even longer. Did Martin Luther King, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, win in any speech contest? Of course not! Then why do people still remember his speeches “I have a dream…” for so many years? It’s the VALUE that counts!  
 

Therefore, it’s not a matter whether you can win the champion or not. It’s a matter whether you can touch people’s heart with “your own” personal stories. In 2007 Spring Convention, I decided not to set the goal for winning the championship, but to deliver VALUE to the audience. Luckily, I won the 2nd place of Prepared Speech Contest. But what inspired me more was the audience’s feedback. 
 

When I finished my speech, “A+”, on my way back to seat, a young toastmaster from NTU club came to shake hands with me and told me, “Mr. Shan, in your speech, in the conclusion, when you called for actions and encouraged us to give other people a “+”, I had “goose bumps”(雞皮疙瘩). I was really touched by your speech.” At that moment, I knew I had done a good job because I had won the audience’s heart!  
 

What is VALUE? It is what you truly believe from the bottom of your heart, it could be a concept, a motto, or a simple idea.  
 

Where can VALUE be found? It’s everywhere! It exists and happens in our everyday  life. It takes no time to get it, but it takes “a heart” to find it.  
 

2. When compared the above contests, what is the biggest challenge for you to prepare for each contest? 

As to Humorous and Prepared Speech Contests, I believe for most people the biggest challenge is to “find a good topic”. How do we find and choose a good topic? I agree with my club member, Josephine Tu, who suggests that it takes two things to find a good topic: (1) Time (2) Awareness. Spend some time and be aware of everything happening around you, and you will find that the VALUE of your speech can be so close to you. 
 
 

2.1  What are your strategies?   

In Humorous and Prepared Speech Contests, we can prepare in advance. So we can revise our speech when we practice. And for me, in addition to my club, Sunrise, I would go to 5-7 other clubs (, YWCA, Legacy, CECI, Grand, and ChinaTrust…) to practice. Each time I went to the other clubs, I would bring my custom-designed “evaluation form” and give it to everyone in that club before I delivered my speech, so that I could have more than 20 Individual Evaluators each time I practiced. In addition, I would bring a digital camera to record my performance and the audience response.  
 

Usually, before the national contest, I would practice my speech about 200 times. (It’s nothing big deal. Because my role model, Andreas Ouyang, practiced 700 times before the national contest in 1995.) Every time I practiced, I would adjust my body language according the videos, and revise my script according to the suggestions on the “evaluation forms” and audience response.  
 

3. Did you have any coaches? Who are they? Could you share your experience working with your coaches?  
 

Joining a contest is a process of “rediscovering yourself”. So the perfect coach should behave like the contestant’s “mirror”. From this point of view, I think anyone can be your mirror, because everyone can see you from a different angle, and each angle can reflect “a kind” of you. There is no good or bad about different kinds. Luckily, I have two miraculous mirrors:   

(1)  Joanna Lin
I was so lucky to have Joanna Lin as my coach. Joanna is a considerate person who can always catch the point in a short time, and honestly expresses her feelings after listening to my speech. She helped me clarify the complex ideas to form a logical speech. She helped me with the fine-tuning while rehearsing. Of course, she has always been my mental support.   

(2)  Andreas Ouyang: 
My role model, Andreas Ouyang, is the most humorous person I’ve ever met. He provided me with many extremely creative ideas that broadened my horizons. He is not only a good speaker but also a good actor. That’s why I went to his club, China TMC, to practice my speeches before the national contests. He is so experienced that he can diagnose my speech and prescribe the medicine right after listening to my speech. I really hope some day in the future, I can become as humorous and outstanding as he.  
 

4. What’s your advice for those who would like to join a contest? 

As to joining a contest, many people think about “winning or losing”. I used to think that way, too. But now, I’ve discovered a new meaning of joining a contest. I think joining a contest can be a process of “rediscovering yourself”. 
 
 

In a contest, especially when we go to a higher level, we tend to sharpen our speech content, delivery skills by practicing. Meanwhile, we need to adopt other people’s suggestions. Sometimes, suggestions from the audience and your original ideas are likely to be different from one another. What we need to do is to clarify and reconfirm the core value of the speech again and again. It is somehow similar to talking to your inner-self. You keep asking yourself, “What’s the main message I want to deliver to the audience?” Also, you need to watch yourself in the videos again and again. At times when I saw my performance in the video, I asked myself, “What is this guy talking about?!”  
 

You would see yourself from many different people’s (including your own) points of view. So during this process, you would understand yourself better and better. 
 

Therefore, joining a contest is really not just about winning or losing. It’s the experience, the journey of rediscovering yourself. Trust me. It’s definitely worthwhile to give it a try! 

5. What do you learn most from joining Toastmasters? 
 
 

I’ve joined Sunrise Toastmasters Club since February 2005. People join Toastmasters with their own reasons: learning English, communication and leadership skills and joining the speech contest ……etc. There are several “indicators” to show how much efforts we have paid in our Toastmasters life, such as how many speeches we have delivered, what prize we have won in the contest. What I’d like to point out here is that the real “indicator” is “whether and how much you apply what you have learnt in Toastmasters in your daily life”.  
 

Imagine, if we win the top 3 in a humorous speech contest, but we don’t become more humorous or we still can’t see difficulties in a humorous way, then what do we learn from joining the humorous speech contest? If we’ve been others’ individual evaluators for many times, we still criticize rather than evaluate, giving negative suggestions instead of giving compliment first, then what do we join the evaluation contest for?  
 

So I think being a toastmaster is not just about improving our English or communication skills, but a way of life! 

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