The Speaker’s Odyssey Chapter-1

Screenshot 2021-06-11 150106




By Joel Thiyaheswaran

8th of May, 2021 (Saturday) at 5.00 p.m.:

In our usual Gavel Club meetings, which are held on Saturdays at 5 p.m. onwards, we speak and learn many things. However, this meeting was special because unlike our regular educational meetings, we got the opportunity to learn from a master. This day was the public speaking workshop of Gavel Mora.

For about a week, the eye-catching flyers for the workshop started coming. Everyone was really excited about the workshop. Neither am I a speaker nor had the dream of being a speaker. But ever since I joined the Gavel Club, I was inspired by the great speakers to be a public speaker. I knew that this was my ticket, to begin the journey to become a public speaker.


Finally, it was 5 PM. I was so thrilled to learn from the champion speaker and Gavel Alumni, Mr. Kasun Ranasinghe. Due to the pandemic, the Gavel meetings were held through Zoom. As I joined Zoom, I was surprised by the number of participants in that meeting. There were more than 85 participants, nearly twice the usual participation. Gavellier Niruthikka inaugurated the most awaited session with an electrifying introduction to the session, “Like a sculptor who discovers the statue hidden in a stone, like an alchemist who transforms soil into gold, mentors will help us form, reform and transform”.

Without delaying any further she handed over the session to the champion speaker, Mr. Kasun Ranasinghe. He started, “I am feeling a bit overdressed for this session” and he removed his tie. At that moment, I honestly thought that I was about to witness what someone would call an adults only performance. To my relief, he didn’t remove anything else! First, he defined speech as, “Converting your thoughts into words is a speech”. He explained the three situations where he delivered a speech, first was when he had to do a presentation in front of his batchmates, the second was when he wanted to convey his feelings towards someone special to him, the third was he had to present himself to get hired in a certain company. His second situation of delivering a speech attracted the audience and most of them were like, “Well, that was what I’m looking for”. With that stratospheric introduction, he dived straight into the session.

There are three main steps to deliver a speech.

  1. Take 2 papers and put them on your desk.
  2. Go to bed and stare at the fan. Think of the stories and ideas for the speech. Find the unique thing about you.

This second step is a habit of mine, how it differs from the actual step is, I always think of someone. You get the idea. The last step is the most important.

  1. You come back to your desk and take the first paper.

Divide the paper into two columns, on the first column you write the stories, and on the other column, you write the ideas. Check whether you can find answers to your stories.

  • What did I learn from this story?
  • Was there a lesson in that?
  • Will that lesson help someone in the audience?

In the second column, you should be able to discuss the ideas based on your stories. The first paper would be the outline for your speech. He moved on to the second paper. In the second paper write the following,

  • The lessons you learned from that story
  • Gather quotes and morals to relate to the story

A good speech has three main parts.

  1. Opening
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

Opening and ending are the most crucial parts of the speech. The opening should attract the audience, it should be electric. An opening may contain a quote, or a question, or a joke, or a song, or drama. The purpose of having a good opening is to make a strong connection between you and the audience.

Then you should address the audience. For example, if it is a Gavel meeting, “Toastmaster, and my fellow Gavelliers” or if it is a Competition, “Contest chair, ladies and gentlemen”. You can also address the audience relating to the opening like if you have given an introduction related to a flower then, “Toastmaster, and my dear flowers”. It is quite important to address the audience.

Body part contains your message to the audience. The first paper is the outline for the body part. Here you tell the stories, and when you are delivering your stories you will fetch the ideas within the story little by little. Build up your speech using the stories and ideas.

Finally, the ending is the most crucial part. In the end, you have to be so unique and you want to make sure that the audience will remember you and your speech. Summarize the points, generalize the story that happens in your life and how these things can happen in your life, and conclude with something that will create an image of you among the audience. Like, Mr. Dananjaya Hettiarachchi threw away the flower.

Screenshot (680)

General tips for improving your speech,

  • Sleep well before the competition
  • If you stuck during the speech take a pause and think of the next word
  • Don’t discuss politics, religion, and sex (topics that can be offensive)
  • Practice well (In front of the mirror, with your mentor)

The Champion speaker mentioned the most amazing thing that made me want to do my first speech, which is the post-speech agenda. With the promise of a free dinner after taking part in the competition, I decided that day that I will take part in all the competitions, at least for the free food. What is tastier than a free dinner? Then he mentioned the mentors and their part. To explain furthermore about mentors, he invited Gavellier Madushika.

Mentors will guide us and help us when we are struggling. They will polish you and make you shiny. Not you actually but your speech. Come on reader, concentrate! Do you want to become a better speaker or not?  FOCUS! The mentors will help you to prepare for the competitions. Then she handed it over to Mr. Kasun Ranasinghe. He invited Gavellier Jayoda, who is also a champion speaker, to explain about competitions.

There are 4 types of speech competitions.

  1. Prepared Speech
  2. Impromptu Speech
  3. Humorous Speech
  4. Evaluation Speech

She stressed more on Speech Olympiads.. Sharing her experience of participating for a participation certificate and becoming the champion speaker, gave us a lot of confidence to take our first steps in public speaking while dreaming to be the next Jayoda. Then the control was handed over to Mr. Kasun Ranasinghe. He concluded his session and gave control back to Gavellier Niruthika.

The time had arrived for the Q&A session. Every enthusiastic participant has started posting a question on the given link, like firing bullets from the machine gun. Mr. Kasun Ranasinghe was delighted with the questions. He answered all of them.

Tips from the Q&A session,

  1. When writing your speech, try to think if your speech is understandable by a 6-year-old.
  2. Keep practicing and listen to speeches
  3. If you’re nervous to deliver a speech in front of a huge audience, start from a small crowd and increase the crowd.
  4. Memes are perfect for stories
  5. Improve your vocabulary by reading books, having a word calendar, watching movies, and watching dramas.
  6. Improve your body language
    1. Have a good eye contact
    2. Be relaxed but stiff
    3. Use hand gestures
    4. Know the boundaries of your screen when you’re talking (Especially in online meetings)
  7. Do vocal exercises to use variations in your voice
  8. Write stories to use in impromptu speeches

“Everyone is a speaker, and take your first steps in public speaking”, with these last words the Q&A session came to an end. Gavellier Niruthika gave the vote of thanks and mentioned the remote mentoring program, which is the second chapter of this workshop. The most heart-touching verse that she said was, “It won’t be a cakewalk”. This reminded me of the famous quote by Brom, “Everything comes with a price. Everything. Something just costs more than others”. It’s always been our choice to pay the price or just leave it. I made my decision to pay the price to ace in public speaking and the most amazing workshop came to an end.