Feliz verano

El caracol y el mar

Feliz verano

Para hacer una buena interpretación ya sea simultánea, consecutiva o de enlace, lo primero, es escuchar. Para ser un buen comunicador, también.

Cuando era pequeña, mis padres me llevaron un día a una playa de arena dorada en el Pacífico mexicano. Cuando empezaba a atardecer salimos a dar un paseo la playa. Un caracol me llamó la atención por su silueta redondeada y sus colores arena y coral.

Mi mamá me dijo que me lo acercara y que escuchara con atención porque dentro del caracol se oía el eco del mar.
Este verano aprovechemos para respirar y reaprender a escuchar. Quizás,al igual que el caracol nos revela el eco del mar, escucharnos a nosotros mismos y a los demás nos revele el misterio de nuestra propia profundidad.

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Toastmasters Speech 8: Get Comfortable With Visual Aids

This project is designed to examine the use of slides, transparencies, flip charts, whiteboards, or props. In Madrid Toastmasters we don’t have a flip chart, whiteboard or an OHP, therefore, my visual aids were color printouts in A3 size that I showed during key moments of the speech. It is important to remember that your own body language is a very powerful visual aid because it makes your story three-dimensional and alive.

The steps I followed to craft this speech were the following:

  • I chose a topic which almost everybody knows about and that is very visual in itself.
  • I made several oral drafts that I recorded on my phone.
  • Then I listened to those recordings and started to write down the parts I liked.
  • Next, I worked on the written version. This process helped me clean out the structure and visualize the sections where a visual aid should be present.
  • The following step was to find simple and clear images that would illustrate the point, choose the most relevant ones and print them out in the most appropriate format.
  • I’m sure you guessed what the next step was: practice, practice, practice.

Since this time I first crafted the spoken version of the speech, when I delivered it I felt more comfortable improvising and taking some twists and turns based on the reaction I was getting from the audience. I felt I was actually involved in an amplified, collective dialogue. Some techniques I used to achieve this were:

  • asking questions to get the audience thinking and then provide my answer.
  • using actual dialogues with characters instead of telling them what happened.
  • showing the visual aid and pausing for a few seconds, explain and point when necessary and go on with the story.

I got a very positive feedback from my evaluator and from the audience, but the best thing was to see that people were coming to me and asking me more questions about the speech after the meeting was over!

Speech transcript:

To be or not to be… on Facebook


Please raise your hand if you have a Facebook account. Congratulations. You belong to the one billion users worldwide of this platform.

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and guests,

Today it is a special day for me because I’m celebrating my second anniversary of a life without Facebook.

You might be thinking that I’m a black sheep and that I don’t belong to the 21st century, but that is not true. I am on Twitter, Linkedin, G+, WhatsApp and I have a blog. I just don’t have Facebook and I think my life is better because of it.

A few weeks ago I was in Geneva taking an intensive French course. I met some nice people and made some new friends. Towards the end of my stay I asked them to go out for lunch to say goodbye to them. We went to a nice restaurant on a top floor with a view of the Alps covered in snow. We sat at the table and could smell wonderful Thai food and were eager to share this moment, but one of them, Marylene, kept looking at her phone every few minutes. After a while I asked her, “Marylene, are you waiting for something important?” And she said “No, I’m just looking at my FB wall. I started wearing glasses yesterday and I wanted to see what people think.”

Obviously that was immensely more important than having an actual conversation with us, and the problem was, that after a while even I started to look at her pictures, and her friends’ pictures of their pets, and trips, and food. Do you see the danger here? There are several studies that suggest this very simple fact:talking to peopleBesides affecting the quality of our relationships with people, there is another very important thing that I felt Facebook was taking away from me:

My time.

An average user spends 421 minutes on Facebook every month. This is the same as 7 hours and one minute. Can you imagine what you would do if you had 7 extra hours every month? I can think of a few things I would do: sleep more, take a yoga class, and go have coffee with friends. In fact that’s what I have been doing ever since I quit Facebook.

A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing with a member of Madrid Toastmasters, and with some other friends, the benefits of having a Facebook account. It is true that there are some nice features: you can centralize your photos and contacts, you can inform people of what you are up to, or you can follow interesting articles on fan pages. However I see two problems here.

The first one is privacy. Are you aware of who is looking at your content and do you really want them to know all those details?

If something is private or it affects your loved ones, don’t be narcissistic, and don’t put in on Facebook, you could be hurting someone without realizing it or you could be posting something you might regret later.

The second problem is information overload which is again related to time. My fellow Toastmaster was telling me that she is a musician and she uses FB to promote her gigs. There was a time when I was a performing artist as well and used FB to promote my gigs. I have to say that although it gave me visibility, the hundreds of likes didn’t actually transform into ticket sales, while actually talking to people or sending them personalized messages, did. In terms of following fan pages or groups, I would like you to think honestly if you have time to do all that, and read books, the press and your reports from work.

Although I don’t think that Facebook in itself is inherently bad, I think it is very addictive and it can have a clear negative impact on your time and the quality of your personal relationships. Don’t you agree it’s worth looking into the use you make of it and see if you can make any changes for the better?

I would like to propose to you a 21-Facebook detox plan. For the next 7 days track the time you spend on Facebook. Start your stopwatch when you log on and stop it when you log off, even if you are multitasking. Write down your times and take note of the kind of things you do on Facebook without judging yourself. Just observe and note. If after those 7 days you decide that being of Facebook is still worth your time, set yourself a maximum daily use of Facebook and stick to it for two weeks. Be disciplined and honest with yourself. I promise you that after these 21 days you will notice small changes in your use of time and in the quality of your interaction with the people you love the most. The rewards will be worth it. I guarantee it.