This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.
By Chew Jing Ying (16S07D), Co-Chairperson
Your footsteps are light and quick. Heart palpitating, you hold a hand over it, teeth nervously worrying your lower lip. You are getting closer and closer to the classroom you’re not entirely sure you want to be in, I mean, Gavel Club? Public speaking? Hello, terrifying. Finally, you arrive at the classroom door. Hand on the handle, you dare not open it yet. The unmistakeable sound of excited chatter and raucous laughter drift from the inside, piquing your curiosity. You open the door, and wide smiles greet you. The people inside are loud, boisterous, and warm. They talk a mile a minute, about anything and everything under the sun. A passing topic interests you, and you open your mouth to speak. Within minutes, you are part of that noisy, hilarious, fun-loving group. You made the right choice, after all.
What is Gavel Club? What is public speaking? Is it standing at a podium, in front of a crowd, getting stage-fright as you stutter into a mic? No, no, no. That is merely a dangerously frightening, boring misconception of Gavel Club.
Gavel Club is all about the sharing of insights and honing of communication skills. A place where thoughts and opinions run wild, Gavel emphasises the value of free speech and open communication. The ability to share one’s opinions and feelings without restraint or judgement is an element Gavel fights hard to protect. It is a gift, an escape from daily life where facades are oft put up. Through both casual and formal training sessions on the Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, every member gets a chance to open their heart to the others. Sharing pieces of themselves through speeches, members get closer to one another, forming a tight-knit group. Individuality and diversity of the soul is celebrated and embraced, forming the core of Gavel’s philosophies.
But, fear not. Speeches are not all just deep, profound ideologies. Weekly topics are up to interpretation. For one where one might cry, the next Joe might make a joke of it. For example, given the topic of ‘Time’, one may speak about its meaning and the intricacies of past, present, and future. Or, one could talk about Time magazine and the latest celebrity gossip.
Apart from prepared speeches where topics are given beforehand, Gavel also engages in the liberating act of impromptu speech. Members speak on the spot, tackling any topic thrown at them. From the serious to the light-hearted, CCA sessions are filled with both learning and laughter. A highlight of each CCA session is definitely speech games. From interrupting one another to paired speeches to having image prompts of shaved llamas and peeled bananas, speech games are an exhilaratingly enjoyable breakaway from proper speeches, refining one’s wit and creativity.
Gavel is, at heart, a hub for speakers to learn and share skills with one other. Speakers practice the ability to have accurate pronunciation, effective intonation, purposeful gestures and engaging eye contact. Regular feedback after each speech from members helps one to improve, and the more speeches, the better. As a general rule, each member is required to make at least ten speeches in their time at Gavel. A subsidiary of Toastmasters International, Raffles Gavel offers globally-recognized Toastmasters accreditation. This allows members to be eligible for the Merit Award in Cognitive Development of the Raffles Diploma.
Gavel members are also recognized for our abilities, receiving opportunities to showcase our talents. As coveted emcees, we receive invites to school events, other CCA competitions, and so on. There is also a myriad of inter-school competitions members can participate in, to pit themselves against other schools and bring glory to Raffles.
Communication is a vital aspect of human relationships. Its importance cannot be stressed further, whether you realise it during OP, during university, or during job interviews. Gavel polishes this life skill, and all are welcome to join the Gavel family! Dedicated to grooming the passionate, no prior experience is necessary. We only ask you come with an open mind, an open heart, and a greed for learning :)