Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review of my toastmaster CC#2 speech

Yesterday I finally finished my second speech, my topic is "Shu Ha Ri - The Japanese way of learning". After speech, I feel very exhausted. Because I am very nervous, and I practice it a lot. It might be easy for other people, but for me it is really difficult. Here I posted my personal review.

My Feedbacks
 - No notes
 - I looks very confident
 - The speech is clear, simple and easy to follow
 - transition is smoothly
 - The topic I choose is interesting

Constructive, I need to improve
 - Need more eye contact, I ignore the left side of the audience
 - My feet move back and forth, which is distracting, I understand it because I was nervous during the speech, and focus too much on recalling my script, so I can not cover other issues, this needs more practicing
 - more eye contact
 - need humorous
 - need quote for opening and ending.

How I choose the topic
 My criteria to choose a topic are:
  - 3-5 points
  - can be fit within 5 - 7 minutes
  - can bring value to audience

I chose Shu-Ha-Ri because it fits the above criteria: it has only 3 points, it will really new to the audience. Also it is my interest, I like to collect the learning model, Shu-Ha-Ri is the simplest one to fit the 5-7 minutes speech. And I feel it would be an interesting topic: the audience will learn some Chinese characters, and learn about martial art principles. And finally I will add examples to using this in the toastmaster learning, which will bring connection to the audience, and this topic will help them to apply it into their own learning.

I will the hard part is preparation. It took me at least 2 weeks to prepare this speech. It is a long time, so I still don't know if it is worth doing like that. I got struggle to write the script, gradually I realize that spoken English is quite different with the written English, because when I write it down, I feel good, but when I read it, it just feel weird, so I modified a lot. Also I struggled to shrink the content to fit it into 5-7 minutes, I have to balance different situation, and cut my favourite part. Finally I realize that to fit within 7 minutes, my content has to be around 600 words. The whole process is very discomfort for me. But I will say I tried my best, because I want to bring the value to the audience.

Making the speech
Comparing to the preparation, doing speech seems lot easy. But I was still nervous before the meeting. I can feel I am still nervous during the speech, I was still not comfortable to speak in public. That was why people saw me move back and forth randomly, because I did that unconsciously. But in general they all said I looked very confident, that was because I did not use notes. Anyway this is a great experience, it seems this 7 minutes were worth all my hard works.

This speech is a great experience for me. I think I tried my best, and I delivered my message to the audience, and they like it. Also this speech exposed my ignorance for the public speech, all the issues were I never aware before. I also learned the difference between spoken English and written English. The biggest thing I want to improve next is how to shorten my preparation time, since it interrupted my so many other plans. And I really enjoy reading the evaluation from my club members. They are really helpful, I really appreciate that, I feel what I get is a lot more than I contributed. This will force me to bring excellent topic in future.

Update some more thoughts
My evaluator suggested me to use a quote to make the opening stronger, actually I thought about it, but I just could not find a good one, today I found a Chinese proverb:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
So the opening like this:
A Chinese proverb says:"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". Today I am going to show you a different way of learning, which will help you learn more effectively.

Is that sounds better?

P.S. my notes of the speech

Shu-Ha-Ri, the Japanese way of learning

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests, my name is Steve.

Today my topic is about learning. Learning is very important for us, we need to keep learning, also we need to learn how to learn, to make our learning more efficient. Now I am going to introduce you a learning model, it is called Shu-Ha-Ri.

Shu-Ha-Ri is a concept coming from Japanese martial art. It describes the 3 stages from beginner to master.

These 3 Chinese characters are used in Japanese, and pronounced as "Shu Ha Ri" in Japanese.
This is Shu, it means “to follow”
This is Ha,  it means "to break",
This Ri, it means “to transcend”.

So roughly Shu-Ha-Ri means: First follow, second break, and finally transcend.

Next I will explain this model in details, and try to show you how to apply it in our toastmaster learning.

First in Shu stage, the martial art student is a beginner, he will copy his mentor's movement, he follows the rules precisely without modification. Shu implies loyalty, which means the student should follow one instructor, stick with one path, and focus on one technique. In this stage, the student only needs the clear and detailed instructions; he does not need to learn the theory.

In terms of toastmaster learning, if you are a beginner, you are in the shu stage, you have the manual, you got a mentor.  you need to follow the manual precisely, And you need to follow your mentor, and focus on one technique each time.  For my personal example, my mentor Robert gives me lots of help, especially this time he suggested me NOT to use slides right now, I should focus more on the speech only, this is great,  I really appreciate that , thank you Robert.

The goal in Shu stage is to let the student learn the fundamentals. If he achieves this goal, then he can go to next level, which is Ha stage.

In Ha stage, the student knows the fundamentals, but he needs to go deeper, he needs to understand the principles and theory behind the rules. he starts questioning the rules, reflects everything he learned. He applies the rules to different situations, he will modify them to make adaption. He also will explore different paths, and collect different techniques.

If you are ha level toastmaster, you will do the same thing: you need to go beyond the manual, you might follow different mentors, try different paths and learn different techniques.

During Ha stage, the student will gradually transform what he learned into his own experience.  And finally he will enter the Ri stage.

 In Ri stage, the student becomes a master. He totally abandons the rules, what he learned becomes his second nature. He will follow his own instinct, he moves naturally, spontaneously. He is very creative, and he has the freedom to do anything without limitation. The biggest difference between beginner and master is that the master follows his intuition, while the beginner follows the rigid rules.

The same thing is for toastmaster. If you are ri level toastmaster, you don't rely on the manual any more, you rely on your own instinct, you speak naturally and you are fully free to express yourself.  You are the real master.

Now I want to make a quick survey,  How many of you think you are a shu level toastmaster? Please raise your hands.
Are there any ha level toastmaster?
Are there any ri level toastmaster?

Now you know about what the Shu-Ha-Ri is. It is a learning process,  It is simple and powerful, please try to apply it in your own learning.

Mr. Toastmaster


  1. congrats on your 2nd speech! No notes. That is great! I would have been extremely nervous without notes. Those are great positives for a 2nd speech. i think the pacing will correct itself as you get more comfortable speaking, as will the eye contact. You got good specific tips to work on your for next speech. You are on your way to be a top speaker!!

  2. Good speech, Steve. I have to give my 2nd speech this week, and while looking for ideas, came across your blog.

  3. A new concept for me...very interesting !