So I did my first Toastmasters speech project at our Belmont Blabbers Club today. The name of the first project is The Ice Breaker. The goal of The Ice Breaker is for me to introduce myself to my fellow club members and give them some information about me. I think it went ok. I couldn’t believe how nervous I was though. My heart was beating so hard it felt like I was pushing the last mile in this ridiculous 1,000-mile marathon. The members of the club gave me really positive and constructive feedback. I love constructive feedback. While it is nice to know what I have done well, the “better-ifs” are the ones that will really help me to improve my communication skills. I realized a few things today:
Realization #1 – Always have a title for your speech. I showed up and was all psyched about getting my first speech project done. Lyn Coles, our Sgt-At-Arms, asked what the title of my speech was. I just realized I completely forgot to give my speech a title. I just assumed that all first speeches were called The Ice Breakers. Let the lesson to be learned, folks.
Realization #2 – Speak with what you used to practice. If you didn’t practice your speech with your notes, don’t bother bringing them with you to the lectern. I practiced my speech with what I wrote down. My plan was to write down the notes in a point form and then glance at them when I presented my speech. That plan failed miserably. I think my eyes were actually refused to look at the notes because that’s how unfamiliar I was with those notes. For the next speech I’m doing, I’m going to practice with the point-form notes.
Realization #3 – Pauses are good to have in a speech. At some point during the speech today, I was so nervous that I had to stop and think what I just said for a moment. When I paused to gather myself, I gained more confidence. I also think when I pause, it is easier to start my next sentence.
Realization #4 – Wow, I need to work on my enunciation! I tend to mumble when I’m nervous. I notice this from my daily speaking too. I mumbled a few times in the speech today, but it was too late for me to go back and say it again. I think enunciating clearly helps to control the talking speed too.
Ok, enough realizations, here is my speech.
The Canadian Me
I once heard a quote that goes like this, “instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can.” And that’s why I’m here today. Coming to Canada alone at the age of 18 changed my life entirely. I think I would’ve been a completely different person if I didn’t come to this country. In the next five minutes, you won’t find out all about me, but you will get to know my background, what I do for a living, and my passion.
On April 6, 2000, I arrived at the Victoria International Airport with a suitcase as big as me. My host father, Jim, who was holding a sign that said “Qi Yang”, picked me up from the airport, and that’s how my Canadian life started. The first year in Victoria was not so good! I had no friends, was terribly home sick, and couldn’t even communicate in English properly. I could write no problem, but speaking was always the challenge. Once I had to describe to my host mother that the power was out and the food in the refrigerator was melting by doing this. [body language follows] She somehow pieced those together and understood what I meant. I eventually adjusted to my life in Victoria. On August 8, 2008, I married my wonderful wife, Anya. It was the best day of my life! Now we have a little puppy named Holly, and Holly is supposed to be the “thing” for me to warm-up to the idea of having kids.
I spent a year in the ESL program at UVic and was accepted into the Health Information Science program at the same school. About a week after getting my bachelor of science in health information, I started working for a pharmaceutical research company called PRA International. At PRA, I joined their Wellness Committee to plan activities for the Wellness Fair and promote healthy working environment. I also set up workshops to teach co-workers how to use the exercise ball at their cubicles instead of sitting on the chair all day. I wanted to work for the Ministry of Health because I wanted to take health information more seriously as a profession. In the past five months in the ministry, I’ve worked on various data requests from the health authorities. Just recently, I started to take on my own projects. Working for the province makes me look at health promotion on a much larger scale. I also work as a Personal Trainer at the university on the side. I have been training different clients since 2003. Seeing people being active and healthy is a feeling that no language can describe.
I am passionate about creating a healthy living environment. I want to be the example to promote population health and preventative care. I think if we want to make a change in health care with the current challenges we are facing such as aging population, obesity, and waiting lists for anything we do in a health care setting, the first thing we need to tackle is improving primary health care. In terms of preventative care, take the US for example, studies have shown that nearly 40% of total yearly mortality is from preventable causes of death, such as tobacco smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity. We should prevent illness and sickness from happening rather than spending billions of dollars on treatments. I’m not saying treating is not important, but we should look farther and think outside the box.
In summary, if I hadn’t come to Canada, I would’ve been a completely different person. Canadian education had made me become a creative and critical thinker. I still remember after high school, I was giving myself all these reasons why I shouldn’t go to Canada. Looking back, I’m so glad that I’ve chosen this path and become who I am today. So, I hope you got to know a little bit about me. I’m a health informatician, a trainer, a lover, and an Icebreaker. Thank you.