Have you ever tried to sing during an important speech contest? I did recently. It was a scary and rewarding experience.
Most recently, I competed at the 2013 Toastmaster International Speech Contest. In my speech titled “Lullaby”, there was a total of thirty seconds of actual singing of Schubert’s Lullaby at the opening and the ending. The thirty seconds of singing was so critical that it could make or break my speech.
Singing is not new to me. I like singing at churches and Karaoke clubs. All my life I sang with my talking voice by using my mouth, jaws, and throat. In order to recreate the beauty of Schubert’s Lullaby and to project my singing voice to the audience in the back rows, I wanted to sing like a pro. Therefore, right after I won the Area 62 contest in February and two months before the division contest in April, I hired a vocal teacher to coach me on how to sing like a pro.
The teacher taught me to relax all my muscles, control the air flow, and feel the vibration in my forehead. I understood every word she said, but I couldn’t do it. I practiced day and night even in my dreams but the result was unstable and unpleasant. When I tested the lullaby at my daughter’s bedtime, her reaction was: “Mommy, stop! You woke me up!”
At that point, I wanted to give up and just go back to my old habit of singing with my talking voice. My fear was if I messed my singing of Schubert’s Lullaby, I could mess up my contest speech and my chance to win. However, I also knew clearly that my purpose of competing at the speech contest was to better myself by trying new things and pushing my limits. Therefore, I kept practicing, practicing and practicing. Two days before the division contest, magic happened. I suddenly felt the airflow in-and-out, and the vibration in my forehead.
Let me demonstrate the “before” and “after”……………..(click the link below to listen).
I was the 3rd place winner at Town North Division Contest on April 27, 2013. While watching the video recording of my contest speech, I was pleased with my performance because I did everything I planned to do including my singing like a pro. As a speaker, I grew by stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing my limits. Author Neale Donald Walsh asserted, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” My friends, push your limits and grow!