Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Epic Public Speaking

My school has a lot of rules and traditions, and holds quite some competitions. Most of them are ridiculous, one of which is what I like to call "unspoken mandatory". During summer vacation, we have summer school. It's not actually mandatory. They even asked us if we wanted to participate! And gave us a reply form! Problem is, what they teach during "summer school" is actually what we're supposed to learn after summer vacation, and nope, they aren't re-teaching those after school starts. It's like saying, "Oh, you don't want to join us? Fine, but you're gonna catch up on everything you missed all by yourself after school starts. Not my fault." So yeah, it isn't mandatory, but close enough. I do get why they do this--the damn education bureau actually thinks we can learn all that stuff in freaking two years when in fact it might take five years to properly absorb everything. Only way to learn all that in three years? YAY EXTRA LESSONS.

I wandered off. What I want to say is, there's also this speech competition at my school. A competition would only be fun if all the participants are willing to join, yes? School: "Nope, you gotta get at least one person out of each class to compete in this twisted speech comp because I said so. And if you don't? Detention. Mwahahahaha." When they announced this, they actually said this straight out: This is mandatory. Yep, rare not-unspoken-mandatory-fakeness. Refreshing? Heck no. (and why do i even go on this detour explaining unspoken mandatory just for this? i don't know.)

So every year, every class struggles to spit out get one of their beloved peers to join the comp. Naturally, nobody volunteers. To solve this, we either draw lots or vote for someone who they think capable of it. The result? Me. (as you probably have guessed)

we ain't katniss everdeen. sorry, mate.

Later on, my teacher gave me a list of possible topics for the speech. Let me explain how it works. The participants draw numbers beforehand that decide the order in which we go on stage. Then they post a list of topics we'd make a speech about on the school website. We prepare. On the day de la comp, we draw the topics from a bag in the order of us going on stage every three minutes. Everyone has to speak for at least two minutes but three minutes at most. Also, every one has thirty minutes to prepare. It wasn't entirely impromptu, but it felt pretty much like it.

I had no such experience as making a speech. Nada. Why me? Probably because of my higher-than-usual tendency to answer the teacher's questions during class. (but that's NOT an indication to whether one is good at public speaking in any way.) Or my being more comfortable than others when making presentations in class. (but at least i got SOMETHING to present during presentation. powerpoint slides an i are totally bffs.) I probably sound like an ungrateful twat whining how good my speaking skills are. But there are people who actually get proper training for this kind of occasions. (hint: not me.)

So. My teacher gave me a list of topics that we'd draw from, when in fact I had no intention of taking the comp seriously. There, I said it. Yeah, I was being passive aggressive, but still they just can't drag people into the competition and make them do things. The topics? Oh, don't get me started on the topics. Here, I'll list some of them for you:

- ______ in My City (what the heck)/ On the Streets of _______(my city)
-On the Problem of Theft on Campus (no, there isn't any freaking theft in my campus)
-How to Lead a Successful Life (i'm not kidding)
-Democracy at School (um...none?)
-My Thoughts on Inter-School Group Dating (just because i'm in a girl's school doesn't mean we like inter-school dating okay?)
-How to Live a Wonderful Life (not kidding)
-Grasping a Purpose in Life (isn't that inspirational)
-Gratitude (yes, thank you very much)
-The Secret to Having a Wonderful Life (wait, i thought there's a topic for this already?)
-Black Out (um, what am i supposed to talk about? my experience? survival 101?)
-My Thoughts on Extra-Curriculars (actually, i think i'll write a blogpost about this. so there's a good one (so self-centred, mel.))
-A Harmonic Parent-Child Relationship
-many other inspirational generic shit (says a cynical little brat)

The day has finally come. Needless to say, every one of the participants are nervous and freaked out as hell. There are twenty-two of us, and there are only about seven or eight that actually know how to do it because they'd had proper training for this. The rest of us are basically frightened potatoes who had no idea why we were there.

I'm not going to go through every speaker in this post, but I'd say that most people are actually pretty awesome. Some talked about their stories and their pasts that I would never talk about if it were me. Some rambled on like I did, but they had awesome rambles. Some just did amazing.

As for me? Before I got the topic, I'd considered saying nothing for a full three minutes on stage as a form of silent protest. Easy-peasy also rebellious and rude. Seriously. Not that my topic is of anything interesting, but in the end, I decided that I'd make a rough outline about the topic, and just RAMBLE ON.

Guess what topic I got. Right, Grasping a Purpose in Life. Jolly wolly. But yes, I made an outline, freaked out like you do fifteen minutes before it was my turn, got on stage, stuttered, rambled and got down.

What can I say, really? Even I haven't figured out what I'm going to do to reach my goal in the future for my-freaking-self. I have no experience whatsoever. All I can talk about it theoretical and generic stuff. Hello judges, teachers and fellow participants. Today I'm talking about Grasping a Purpose in Life. How do you do it? Set a goal, use your resources, persist, commit to it, but I don't guarantee you'll succeed. Oh wait no, it has to be inspirational, so no negativity in the speech. You might succeed. I'm done, thank you.

Actually there's more. A lot of in-between silence because I forgot what to say. Also, a lot of stuttering. One thing that I'm most proud of (and shouldn't actually be), though, is that after I announced my topic to the judges, I tell them, straight up, that this topic is ridiculously clich├ęd and aimless. Well, I'm glad I'm at least being a bit honest on stage and made some of the audience laugh. Another thing is that near the end of my speech, I was talking about doing what you can during high school. "If you're interested in science, try to do a project and participate in a science fair. (yeah, because i totally did that. not.) If you want to do something literary-related in the can, um, join a speech competition? " Wow, Mel. Wow.

well done, mel.

So that's my epic public speaking experience. (as expected, i didn't win. the world would probably summon a zombie apocalypse in protest if i won, honestly.) (in case you didn't realise, that title is my totally being sarcastic. of course you would notice, right?)

Well, at least, as one of the teachers said, it's an experience, so take it easy and you might make use of it later. (like the dreaded interview with professors when applying to university, yeah?) That teacher is awesome, just saying. She's so motherly and kind, and even gave me a hug before it begins.

Ever done any public speaking? Made a speech? How did it go? Let me know in the comments, and we can all have a good laugh at me!


  1. Hi there, I read your latest blog entry with interest throughout. It seems like your country's education system is harsher than mine. I went to the 'best' high school of the 'land', and I went to watch a debate between 'us' and another, less prestigious school, once. I didn't like the reaction of my classmates, the way they lorded it over the 'losers' when we predictably won. It was an ugly memory. I thought that we didn't deserve to win. So it looks that though us Mauritians have an easier time in high school (I didn't go to University), we are more corrupt than your country's institutions.

    When I was a teenager I was a bit braver than I am now. I used to play music at a temple and I did okay. But now that I've renewed my interest in music and am practicing full fledged piano playing, I feel panicky about performing in public. I'm currently practicing Radiohead's Like Spinning Plates, and it's rewarding to progress and get it right. However I stumble more when anyone from my family is watching me. I need to be reasonably good to overcome my problem of nerves.

    Anyway hope you're having a good day, your blog is better than entire forums' discussions and I'm slowly discovering that quite a few blogs are worth more than pro journalists' output. Keep up the good work. I'll be back. :)

    1. Hi, sorry for the late reply, I've been busy with mid-term exams lately. I used to think that education here was tough, but then the adults I complained to would be all like "pfffft be grateful you don't study in China, South Korea or Japan". I guess they're right, but I've had enough struggling in my country's education already. Recently a large proportion of my blog post feed is made up of blog posts written by British students and from how they talks about it, it seems that they don't have it easier in England either, unlike what I had imagined. One of the thing I'm most posses about is that we can't even choose what to study, yet we have to be good at all of them to go to a good university. Ugh. I like to rant about education, apparently. I might write a blog post about it someday.
      We have a test between middle school and high school that decides which high school you go to based on the scores you get. I got a relatively good score, so people in the high school I go to are more or less "filtered" (arg I hate to say it like that), which might be the reason I don't encounter a lot of behaviours you mentioned. (it's very competitive in my school so basically everybody thinks it sucks to be themselves) eh, I don't know, perhaps you did really well competition-wise so you DID deserve to win, but it was the attitude that your classmates needed to fix?
      We all get nervous when performing when people are watching. There are people who actually enjoy performing, and sometimes I'm really jealous of them, haha. But it's definitely rewarding if you practised for a long time and reached the results you wanted.
      Thanks for commenting! This literally made my day. Blogs are really fun to read and relate indeed. (but sometimes really time-consuming as well.)

    2. Thanks for the response,Melody! I appreciate your long reply, which you wrote in spite(not that kind of spite) of your exams. The good thing about browsing blogs is that I can easily see which ones are worth reading. Like, there's this blogger who has been round the world, and writes the dullest book reviews. There are many bloggers who are still stuck in Harry Potter land, or Twilight or Hunger Games.

      Your blog is interesting because you seem to make your strong, teenage self appear in your words, and it's something that can't be bought and can only be faked by the best con artists.

      China is a really nightmarish place to grow up in, and to live in. There is a Chinese population in my country, and they are very successful businessmen. Some do very well in studies. Where I live there is a commercial struggle between Chinese and Muslim people. Most of the Chinese people, the descendants of those who founded their businesses, are emigrating to Europe or Canada. Anyway, thanks for posting. I await your next entry with enthusiasm. Have a great week ahead!

    3. People have different tastes in blog-reading, I think. It's a very subjective thing. I personally really like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, so I kind of enjoy reading those kind of blogs, aha. But I do get what you mean, sometimes fangirling/fanboying can get a bit overwhelming.

      Ehehehe, I might be the best con artist in the world, who knows XD ?

      China has become a very strong force in a lot of international occasions, economically and politically and it's just...uh, let's not talk politics here. I'd just say that China plays an intimidating yet essential part for my country. We're having commercial struggles with China as well, so I feel ya.

      Oh, and because of school and stuff, I won't be able to write new blog posts regularly (as if I ever did lol). Just a heads up so you won't come here only to find nothing to read :P

    4. You said : Oh, and because of school and stuff, I won't be able to write new blog posts regularly (as if I ever did lol).

      It's okay, I'll take what I can get. As for HPotter, I too was a great fan of the books. But the movies were disappointing for everyone but the fans, who were happy with them. The problem, solely mine, is that HP raised my expectations for all acclaimed books. This made me a demanding reader who wanted something to happen every five pages. But those 7 books are 5/5 stars, every single one of them.

    5. I haven't read the series for a long time...I NEED to reread it, dang it. Recently I saw the HP7 movie on TV, and honestly I felt a bit disappointed as well. (Still I teared up a little at the scene where a lot of people died...oh, too many heartbreaks in HP7) I guess it's because when reading the book it's all up to our imaginations but the movies just kind of molded it into just one thing that doesn't conform with most people's imagery more likely than not.

    6. I must say...I completely understand what you're talking about.

    7. Eh, isn't this creepy (jk, jk)