Have you ever taken part in any championship before? Have you ever got knocked out at a particular round and waited an entire year to not miss another opportunity again?
This was my take at Master Orator Championship 2017, where I failed at the semi-finals
and worked hard until next season to attain a place my parents never wondered of (but not as hard that I could win).
Master Orator Championship turns out to be a competition organized by District 98, Toastmasters International. It’s a hunt for the talented student orators across the region that District 98 covers. This was initiated for the college going, non-Toastmaster, amateur students, who were missing out on the extraordinary part of public speaking, especially like Toastmasters.
I registered and competed again in Master Orator Championship 2018, whose prelims round was held in my home place. Just like before, I proceeded to the semi-final round, which was two weeks after. So let me share my experience, cutting to the chase.
Semi-Final Round, Sunday, August 19th:
I still remember the speech I used in the last season’s semi-finals “Wizards of real life”. I chose to polish the same speech rather than going for a different message. Because this message about becoming wizards meant the most to me.
After all, there were no such restrictions against repetition of speeches, since it’s the delivery and your style of speaking that matter. Plus, I always got used to the fact that great speeches are not just written, they are re-written.
Thanks to the YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, I got to watch the 2013 World Champion Speech by Presiyan Vasilev. The channel description had a link to his website that gave me a set of limited video lessons on public speaking absolutely for free, on subscription via email. A great tutor Pres is! Each video lesson was 40 to 70 minutes long and they never seemed boring to me. I never took such lessons too seriously in my college, jotting down stuff in my notebook. 😅
So there I go, travel to Hyderabad and head towards the Vasavi Engineering College with all the courage gathered up in me, clicking pictures of rain while in Uber.
When I arrived at the venue, there were already contestants and guests seated in the seminar hall, shivering. I wondered if there were nervous contestants this time and thought I could take advantage of them, but it was the biting cold, chilled atmosphere inside. Why do institutes have to boost up the air conditioners for the college dignitaries?
Walking into the contest room, I met other beautiful competitors who were as nervous and also excited. With 11 contestants and 10 other great speeches, our contest began with a warm welcome by our contest chief judges.
Speaking of the contestants and their speeches. Some had great vocal variety while some had moving stories. Some had great command over their emotions while some had great stage presence. It was hard to predict the finalist from the room. Besides, It’s always important to analyze everyone’s speeches and take advantage of them. I gave my speech with a modified title of that old wizard speech – The Patronus in our lives. And I knew Harry Potter’s Patronus theory would help attract the audience.
After the contest, I socialized with people around and clicked rain pictures again. What would you do when you wait for your Uber?
And the next day morning, I woke up to a message on WhatsApp, “Congratulations, man! You made it to finals!”
Woah! I Never jumped out of bed so ecstatically on a Monday morning!
Alhamdulillah! Finally! Improvement spoke for itself!
Now that there were 13 days to the Grand Finale and not realizing that my frequency of college attendance had completely gone down, I spent my time at home preparing for the grand event.
Now before I walk you through the Finale, let me give a little shout out to some great ones who helped my re-draft my speeches for the big fight: Deepak, Gautham, Samreen and lastly the official, sassy mentor the MOC provided, Arjun Rao.
September 2nd, The Big Day:
How euphoric would you feel when you know you were gonna speak on a huge stage like ISB, Hyderabad’s? Getting to meet the other nine talented contestants from different cities?
My family, we all started at 4 am from Kurnool and reached ISB at 8. As I drove into the campus and dropped my family at the main building, Venkata sir, the event director welcomed them in. Meanwhile, I got changed into my suit in the closest washroom I could find and headed directly to the auditorium for briefing and microphone testing.
We gave our speech titles to the contest chair during the briefing. This time, I changed my speech title to “Discover Your Strengths, Discover Your Patronus”.
While I socialized with the other contestants at the cafeteria, little did I know that my family were already having their own fun clicking pictures around ISB gardens. P.S Have you heard about the TV series The Modern Family?
We all then headed back into the auditorium again as the program had already begun. To our surprise, Aditya Maheshwaran was there seated in the front row! “What!! He’s here?”
The emcee invited Aditya Maheshwaran onto the stage. He shared his experience at his first Toastmasters club visit at the age of 19 and gave his thoughts on MOC.
Then came the expected speaker CK Kumaravel, the CEO of Naturals Salon & Spa. He gave his insights on why one must not be afraid of failing, but must be afraid of trying.
Then during the tea break, Gautham showed up. He gave a hug and wished me best. Someone needed a bestie hug before the contest.
Gautham is a very humble buddy, an athlete and cycling enthusiast. He also is the 1st runner from the last season, MOC 2017. Do check out his blogs on Take Aways From My Life because that’s where all his surprise stuff open up.
I can still remember our first meet when he was the finalist last year.
Gautham introduced me to the last year’s MOC champion, Devayani Reddi. We shook hands and everyone I knew wished me luck.
Then moments later, there was that point where your old classmates show up and catch you to cheer you up, “Maut daaldo, Angaar lagao khali”.
5 minutes to the contest! Everyone was seated in the auditorium now. I panned the whole place to find where my family were seated. Could say, there were five hundred to something people. Crowded! I found my seat where all the contestants were necessitated to.
When the emcee handed the stage podium to the contest chair, I could hear everyone’s adrenaline rush synchronized with mine. It got into a pure rhythm when the contest was just seconds away. The contest chair narrated the rules of the contest to the serene audience. Then he roared with his overwhelming voice, “Let the contest… Begin!“
I was contestant number five. I watched the first three speakers’ performances. Then I was escorted to the back room by the Sargeant at arms before the fourth contestant, Sravya, was called onto the stage.
Seven minutes in the back room, I got the microphone fixed to my tie. This was when I told to myself – you are being provided with a water bottle, a lavalier microphone is getting fixed on your attire, you are given seven minutes of time and space to help yourself, gather all your focus and get ready to walk onto that stage. You are a finalist! Isn’t that an achievement for someone who rarely gets to compete at a competition like this?
At the 8th minute (extra 1 minute where judges mark in their ballots after every speech), my props were being ready on the stage. I gulped a whole bottle of water and when the contest chair welcomed me on stage, there were hoots and hollers. I appeared and shook hands with the contest chair as per the contest rules. Damn, it did look professional.
Now, Here’s How My Speech Went:
After my performance, I got back into my seat. Watched the other 5 contestants speeches and they were as beautiful! Still, I could say, winners were hard to predict, but those Distinguished judges knew best.
After the contest ended, there were some shout outs and tribute videos of the volunteers of the Championship. They were called on stage and were awarded mementos and certificates.
After that, the MOC director, MOC conveners, The past MOC champion Devayani Reddi and Aditya Maheshwaran were invited on stage for the felicitation.
The emcee handed the stage to the contest chair again. That moment had come!
Contest chair: Let’s not do any guesswork, because if you guys get it wrong, it would get awkward for me.
*Crowd burst out of laugh!*
Contest chair: Now the second runner-up award… I don’t think I can give a lengthy introduction for him… I’d say Expecto Patronum!!
That was so direct. It took me 4 seconds to check if it was really me. Just like everyone, I did have that feeling for not reaching 1st, but still the HYPE! WAS! REAL! At that moment I knew, someone who failed at last season’s semis had made it to top three this year. Plus, how would you describe cloud 9, when Aditya Maheshwaran was the one to award you the iPad!
The contest chair was getting way creative by announcing the prizes. He shouted “Someone who defends herself with her Karate skills” as the 1st runner-up. Tavleen Kaur dashes up the stage with excitement only to hold the MacBook and not her trophy. 😂
Then the contest chair announces the winner and there Sravya dashed onto the stage with tears rolling down her cheeks out of excitement. A humble girl from Kakinada nailed MOC with flying colours. The happiness she had was indescribable. In other words, she freaking deserved it!
After our winning photoshoot was done, Mr. Maheshwaran took a moment to share a good thought with the contestants, “I can remember competing at the World Championship stage for various times. I won 2nd in 2015. But didn’t win any in 2016 and 2017. Other World Championship finalists had the similar experience.
“Your speeches were greatly presented. Contestants, we all are winners. But not on the same day.”
That thought touched me.
Everything ended well. Alhamdulillah. After the vote of thanks, the program had ended with a huge group photo shoot. And you know how busy it gets for all the trophy holders afterwards.
So what mattered to me after this season? Not only reaching the top three but also the outcome of the audience. Your impression on them. And the way you appear as “THE confident 2nd runner-up” who is not afraid to look like a loser.
If you are reading this, I suggest you to also watch the speeches of the other nine talented contestants. Our speeches were all live-streamed and recorded on their Facebook page, Master Orator Championship. You’ll know.
To all the contestants, congratulations once again, guys! We all made it to that big stage! That’s an achievement I would call for all of us. Don’t trash your scripts, keep polishing them! your messages matter! Your speeches can be heard at next season, or maybe at places you’d never known or heard of. Trust me, as a MOC returner.
And to everyone reading this. Please, please, please do share your thoughts on my speech down below or under my speech video on YouTube, or personally reach out to me on Facebook. I’d be glad to hear from you. And if you feel my blogs are worth reading, please subscribe to me on WordPress via email for future blog posts.