Friday, August 31, 2012

Project 2 Speech - ToastMasters

I managed to deliver my Project 2 speech for ToastMasters today. I have to thank my blog for writing this speech as three posts that I had published way back on this very blog were the foundations of this speech.

I am still not sure how I managed to garner good reviews for this as I had not been keeping well for the past two days before delivering this speech. I guess it helps if you read your speech for over 20 times and create a mental picture of all your gestures and expressions in your mind.

Anyways this time I got my fellow ToastMasters to record my speech and here is the video.

As always any reviews and comments are welcome.
Here is the speech in written - 

He was suffocating. The room was filled with pitch black darkness. He was desperate for fresh air. He moved to the only small hole in the door and put his mouth to it to suck in air, but it wasn't enough. It was as if the walls all around him were closing in on him. He clasped the door knob and tried to force the door open but to no avail. It was as if the entire vitality in the world was against him, forcing him back in the room and he was losing the fight and the will. He was suffocating, the key, he had to find the key. He panicked, he had searched for it before, he couldn't find it and now he was afraid, afraid of going away from the hole, afraid that he'd lose his only breath. No he would not leave it, he'll cling to it. Damn that elusive key.

Good Afternoon! Ladies and gentlemen.

 Dreams, we hear so much about them. How many of us sitting in this room are living their dreams or are at least working towards achieving them? How many of us haven’t felt the fear of that claustrophobic man but still refuse to find the key? Let me ask you a very simple question “What’s Stopping You?”  Take a moment to reflect on the question. Meanwhile, I will help you identify the three main doors behind which the answer hides. Again I cannot deem to answer this question for you, I can merely make a suggestion and leave you to ponder and discover the answer for yourself.

“What If?” isn’t this, the biggest dilemma we all face? This is the first door. What if you fail? What if you reach out your hand and all that comes in your grasp is thin air? A wise man, in this session itself once told me, that the ideal attitude for succeeding in life is 30% optimism and 70% pessimism. Yes, think before you act but don’t let the uncertainty of the result weigh down your determination. You can’t control how the chips fall into place so stop fretting and take the plunge. Sometimes it helps to not worry over the repercussions. This in no way means that if your dream is to bungee jump or sky dive, you don’t take the necessary precautions. Remember you are no Tom Cruise and this isn’t Mission Impossible.

It is often said that we live our lives not as we want them to be but as others perceive them to be. Yes friends, it is the mighty public opinion – the second door. There is a cartoon floating around on facebook these days. It depicts two rotund, overweight people, a male and a female, sitting atop a feeble donkey and enjoying what seems like a safari, when they come across a group of people who remark – “Oh! Two people on a donkey’s back!! What sadists.” The female gets down the donkey and they continue. Seeing them thus, another group remarks – “How cruel!! He is letting his wife walk!!”. Now the man gets down the donkey and offers the seat courteously to the woman. They had only gone a few meters when another group jests – “Look, he is letting his wife ride. Who is the boss!!”. Fed up both the man and the woman decide to walk beside the donkey, their safari now being entirely ruined when they hear – “Fools!! They have a donkey and they are walking”. Hearing this, the man starts pulling his hair out and the woman starts crying.

Well this satire on our society is absolutely true. No matter what you do, you cannot please everyone. So why even bother? There are always going to be people who criticize you for the sheer audacity you displayed by doing what you want, just because you had the guts and they didn’t. They still analyze and criticize Mahatma Gandhi for something he did when he was alive. He has been dead for over 60 years and they still won’t give up.

And now we come to the third door.  We are all pretty familiar with the following excuses – “I have responsibilities, kids, wife, parents” or “I am too old now” or “Is it worth the risks” and still better “I am comfortable here and good at it, so why change”. Well, I’ll only add – You are never too old to start living, unless you take the risk you will never know and nothing great is ever achieved without sacrifices.
This brings us back to point zero.  Answer this – What or rather Who is Stopping You? Who is it that has caged himself behind walls of inadequacy and worthless excuses?

If you have realized the answer, If you have found the key, then let yourself free of those shackles. Break your cage and set stride on your empyreal flight for sky is the limit.

fly afar o! little one,
rest not under the scorching sun..
till there is air in your wings, scale the sky..

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ToastMasters's Speech - Project 1 (Introduction)

I gave my Project 1 speech for ToastMasters today. For people who do not know what ToastMaster is all about, they should definitely visit the link - at least once. I am happy that I got to be a part of Toast Masters as every session is a unique learning experience for me. Not only do I get the privilege of talking to like minded people but also get to learn a lot from each and every one of them.

Talking about my P1 experience, it was really great. Even though I am not new to public speaking, having participated in a lot of debates/elocution contests in school, yet I still could feel my stomach churning right till the moment my name was called. As I walked to the podium, I could feel my legs shaking and had to take the support of the table placed infront of me just to maintain my calm. But as I started and went on I became more comfortable and began enjoying my speech. I knew, I got this.

For interested people here is my ToastMasters P1 speech. I know there is a lot of scope for improvement and although I have completed P1, I'd still welcome any and all reviews.

Project 1 (Introduction Speech)
“No Regrets, One life to live” is my motto for life. I believe in living in the moment and doing whatever I want to do at that moment. I am always on the lookout for learning something new. Good Afternoon Toast masters and friends.

I am Ankit Rastogi, from Meerut, U.P. I am an only engineer born into a family of doctors. I completed my B.E Computer Science from BITS Pilani. I am an amalgamation of values and experiences accumulated from living in a lot of cities all over India. Till now I have never stayed in a city for more than 4 years. Maybe that is why I have an inherent wanderlust, a thirst for adventure and a curiosity to know different cultures and people. It’s either that, or my dislike for cricket which makes me run from place to place. God has a wicked sense of humor. So he decides to make me an Indian, born into a family of cricket maniacs, in a place like Meerut where cricket is the way of life, blesses me with terrible – terrible hand eye coordination and just for the heck of it, decides that yours truly shall abhor cricket. Seriously!! Are you kidding me? You cannot imagine what I have to go through everyday. Well I have managed to live 24 years with it, I suppose I can manage another 24 hopefully.

One thing, however I am grateful to be blessed with is my love for reading. I vividly remember reading Pride and Prejudice, an innocent kid in 5th standard and not understanding a word of it. It was sometime later and with some experience and lost innocence, I realized the reason for this. Jane Austen was a girl. Anyways, it created in me a passion for words and gave fuel to my imagination. I must admit that this child like passion still exists in me every time I pick up a new book. I suffer from self proclaimed Obsessive Compulsive Reading Disorder. Not only do I read feverishly but for the duration of the book, I live in that world. I can recall this one incidence when I was still reading the Harry Potter series where instead of applying my bicycle brakes before colliding head first with a car, I kept on repeating “Impedimenta”, “Impedimenta”. For Harry Potter illiterates, this is a spell to slow down a moving object. But this being damned reality, the bicycle didn’t slow down obviously and I still met with the accident.

I cannot complete my introduction without discussing about my passion for teaching. I started teaching underprivileged kids as a part of NGO called Nirmaan during my time at BITS Pilani, and it is this experience above all else that makes me who I am. I learnt more from those kids and from teaching them what little I could, than I have learnt from anything else till now. “Joi de Vivre” – I learnt the true meaning of this phrase from those kids. Even if they didn’t know where there next meal was coming from, they never gave up on smiling. My best accomplishment till now is teaching one of them how to write his name. I am currently working for Samarthanam an organization for disabled children.

To sum up, I am a reader, a poet, a thinker, a renegade, a philanthropist and in the future I want to add a social entrepreneur and an established writer to this list. I am enjoying being all that I am.
The past is past, the future is ..but the present..
And living in the moment is all I have..
So let me fill this moment,
With all the vibrant shades..
For the dots are mine, as are the colours
And as are the choices I make.
On this note, I’ll take my leave. Hopefully you know me a bit better.

 P.S. - Although this in essence is the speech I delivered, I made quite a few Impromptu changes and additions in the speech, just to engage my audience even more.