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It was 17 October 2015, Saturday, Day 1 of Toastmasters Midyear Convention 2015.

Midcon 2015 Programme
 
Time check: 7:10pm. I was in a beauty parlour just outside St. Agatha Resort and Subdivision. Prino and Chantal were having my make-up and hair done in time for our Toastmasters Midyear Super Heroes Night. I was Mary Marvel.
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I received a call from my fellow toastmaster. He said, “Sha, I am really sorry I cannot travel to Bulacan tomorrow morning because of typhoon.”
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Uh oh. The caller was our test speaker for the Midcon Evaluation Speech Contest scheduled at 7:45am the next day. It meant, I needed to find another test speaker.
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The test speaker is the one being evaluated by all the contestants for the Evaluation Speech Contest. His speech is supposed to be a “prepared” speech.
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With only a few hours to prepare, I figured it would be a real challenge to find a replacement test speaker. The test speaker was also supposed to be “secret” so I couldn’t just announce and ask people who would like to volunteer as a test speaker. Plus, a test speaker should be given ample time to prepare. Ample time meant weeks before the convention! At the most, the test speaker would deliver a semi-impromptu speech.
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“Oh, I understand. No worries. Thank you for letting me know.” I answered.
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After the call ended, I made a mental note about the possible toastmasters I could invite as a test speaker. I couldn’t think of any name.
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Worst case scenario: I will be the test speaker. Oh my God!
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Being the Education and Contest Committee Head, I figured I would take the responsibility to become the test speaker.
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I told myself, Okay, Sha! From this time until 10:30pm, focus on the Fellowship Night. You rented a super hero costume and you had your make-up and hair done by a professional make-up artist. You might as well make the most of the night. Enjoy! Think about your speech after 10:30pm.”
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And that’s what I did. The Super Heroes Night was epic. I saw Iron Man, Robocop, Lapu-Lapu, Wonder Woman, Chun Li, Spiderman, Fiona, etc.

I was Mary Marvel. With me were Chun Li and Spiderman 😛 Photo Courtesy of Ed Fabonan
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After the party, I rushed back to our hotel room which I was sharing with about 15-20 other members of the Midcon Steering Committee. Yes, we were that many and there’s only one bathroom! 😛
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I quickly checked on my friend Trixie who was down with migraine and slight fever. Noting that she was better, I started to brainstorm for my speech. From time to time, I would glance at her and say, Trix, I don’t know what to talk about tomorrow.” I didnt expect her to brainstorm my speech with me because she was still too physically weak, still recovering from migraine and fever. Trix is family to me and a reassuring look from my family was enough to calm me.

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No Topic Yet…The Pressure was On!

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From 10:30pm-12mn, I couldn’t think of any topic or any particular stories to share. Sure, I’ve given so many talks and speeches before. But that night, it was so hard to zoom in on any particular topic or stories. I realised it’s extremely more difficult to deliver a 5-7 minutes speech than to deliver a one-hour talk. With the 5-7 minutes speech, you have to carefully choose your words and filter your message and stories.
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The pressure was high. As they say, “You are only as good as your last performance.” The last time I spoke in a Toastmasters District Convention, I delivered a talk on “How to Write a Book.” And I really, really prepared well for that. Prior to that convention, I competed in the District (national level) Evaluation Contest where I placed 2nd.
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Now, this. I had to deliver a supposedly prepared speech.
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As the Toastmasters District Trainer for Luzon, as a member of Toastmasters International for almost 8 years, as a Speaker by profession, I knew that much was expected of me. I couldn’t afford to mess up. The credibility risk was so high! I couldn’t just deliver any speech. It had to be, at the very least, a good speech.
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The pressure was so high, so was my exhaustion and sleepiness.
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The Next Best Thing

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I did the next best thing. I slept! At 12 midnight!! Without a speech!!! I sat my alarm at 3am.
I told God, God, thank You. I know You will help me with my speech. I believe You would give me the grace to deliver a great speech tomorrow.” And I slept.
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The strong winds and rains woke me up, a few minutes before 3am.
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“The wind was howling like this swirling storm inside. Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried!” Typhoon Lando was displaying his power.
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I proceeded to the bathroom to take a bath, while everyone else was fast asleep. And then I attempted again to write my speech.
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It was already 5am but I still wasn’t able to decide on the topic I was going to talk about or the stories I was going to share. In short, I didn’t have a speech yet!
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I decided to do something productive. I went back to sleep and resolved to wake up at 5:45am, in time for the 6am Holy Mass. During the mass, I told God. “God, help me. I don’t have a speech yet.

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Help Came… Just in Time!

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After the 6am mass, I saw my friend Chris. I approached him and said, Chris, I am the test speaker and I don’t have a speech yet.”
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Chris looked at me. He remained calm and said, How about you speak on how to make your passion your profession?” It’s as if light came bursting in when he said that. Chris and I have been friends for years. He has read all my books and attended most of my seminars. He knew me pretty well.
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The topic he suggested is my motto in life. Make your passion your profession. The simplified version of my life mission is to help people make their passion their profession. How could I not have thought of that topic earlier?
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Chris and I continued to talk about the flow of the speech. In less than 2 minutes, the big picture was painted. I opened my laptop and wrote down the speech. In less than 15 minutes, the speech was done. Couldn’t have done it without the grace of God and His inspiration thru Chris.
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The next challenge was to familiarise myself with the speech I just wrote. With only about 30 minutes left, I had to attend to some minor details related to the contest. Where’s the timing device? Where will the contestants be seated? Do we have enough pencils for the judges? Good thing, our Contest Chairs Melody Llona and Beng Garcia were so competent. Thank you, Dir. Melody and Dir. Beng! 🙂
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All is Well

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To cut the long story short, I was able to deliver a 5-7 minute speech, in front of the 300+ toastmasters from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and I got positive feedback from the audience.
Me as the Test Speaker. Photo Courtesy of Ed Faboan
Me as the Test Speaker. Photo Courtesy of Ed Faboan
And the big bonus? I was evaluated by 11 of the best Evaluator Toastmasters from all over the Philippines. As they say, “feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Their feedback served as my breakfast literally and figuratively. What a treat! 🙂
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This is a long note. I wrote this because the experience taught me valuable lessons that made a great impact on me, which I would like to share with you also.

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Midcon 2015 Lessons

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Lesson #1: Trust that God will give you the grace to weather any storm. So don’t worry.
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No matter how difficult the situation may seem, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. The solution to any of our problems will always come, at the right time. That’s for sure!
I didn’t have the speech until the last minute but I knew in my heart and mind that I’d be able to come up with a great speech.
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Lesson #2: God sends help through other people.
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For me, He sent Chris to help me with my speech development; Trix whose mere presence calmed my nerves; Janice who did my make-up; Contest Committee Team Melody, Beng, Ida, etc. (You know who you are, thank you! 🙂 Thank you!!!
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I get the jitters moments before I deliver a speech. The solution? A hug or hugs! I went to Auntie Loly and asked her if I could hug her. She said, “Sure, Sha!” and she even hugged me back. That simple gesture meant a loooooot to me! Thanks, Auntie Loly!
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Lesson #3: Once you make a decision, stand by it. Make it work.
When I decided to take on the role as a test speaker, I knew I had to stand by my decision. No turning back.
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Lesson #4: Learn how to compartmentalise your thoughts.
Women tend to multi-task and I am guilty of this. Ooops!
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I could have worried all night, even during the Super Heroes Night. I could have missed the fun. And I could still haven’t written down my speech. Instead, I chose to focus on having fun from 7:30pm-10:30pm and just think about my speech after 10:30pm.
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The strategy worked!
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Lesson #5: Learn to Appreciate.
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The Midyear Convention was only 1.5 days. But the Midcon Team has been preparing and meeting for months!
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I never knew how hard and tedious the preparations were for Toastmasters Conventions. Not until this Midcon 2015 when I became part of the steering committee. Special THANKS to Midcon Chair John Gabriel Go Balauag for his superb leadership! Ang galing mo! Bilib ako sa yo! 🙂
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Some of our meetings lasted for 6 hours! Most of the members of the steering committee were from Manila but some of our preparatory meetings were held in Bulacan. There was even one meeting in Bulacan that was scheduled at 7am, on a holiday! It was a lot of hard work and sacrifice but this experience is something I will forever hold dear in my heart.
Some of the Toastmasters Midcon Team (in green and blue shirts) with some of the Toastmasters Delegates from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao
Some of the Toastmasters Midcon Team (in green and blue shirts) with some of the Toastmasters Delegates from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao
After this experience of being part of the Midcon Team, I looked back at the previous Midcons and Discons and I could only say, THANK YOU! YOU (organisers) did a great job! You sacrificed a lot! And I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for making our conventions experiences fun and fulfilling.
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I am even more excited to join the succeeding Toastmasters Conventions. This time, I won’t just be a delegate trying to see what would interest me or what’s in it for me. I would also look for opportunities to thank the men and women behind the conventions and appreciate all their efforts. 🙂 Thank you!
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Overall, I loved this Midcon 2015 experience. It was so much fun! Thank you, Toastmasters! ‪#‎ToastmasterHero‬ ‪#‎Midcon2015‬ ‪#‎WhereLeadersAreMade‬
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I wish you success and happiness!
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Sha Nacino
PS. Have you always wanted to write your own book but you don’t know where to start? I’ve developed a systematic way of writing a book. I can help you write your book in 90 days…even if you’re not a writer and even if you are busy in your job or business. More details here http://www.shanacino.com/write/

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Sha Nacino is one of the most sought-after Filipino motivational speakers in the Philippines. She is the bestselling author of the books Money&Me, Mission Happiness, plus 7 other books. Sha is the founder of The 90-Day Book Writing Challenge where she helps first time authors write their books. She also writes for Bo Sanchez's TrulyRichClub newsletters. She regularly gives talks on Personal Finance, Happiness, Purpose, Success Principles, etc. If you wish to invite Sha to speak in your company or events, visit shanacino.com or email her at sha@seminarphilippines.com.

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Sha Nacino is one of the most sought-after Filipino motivational speakers in the Philippines. She is the bestselling author of the books Money&Me, Mission Happiness, plus 7 other books. Sha is the founder of The 90-Day Book Writing Challenge where she helps first time authors write their books. She also writes for Bo Sanchez's TrulyRichClub newsletters. She regularly gives talks on Personal Finance, Happiness, Purpose, Success Principles, etc. If you wish to invite Sha to speak in your company or events, visit shanacino.com or email her at sha@seminarphilippines.com.

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