By Ruth Teo (19S03C), President
With sparkling eyes and a gaping mouth, I watched a TED-Ed talk on YouTube with pure admiration for the dauntless speaker. Thinking about my palpitating heart and sweaty palms during my class presentation, I wondered how anyone could simply be so confident in front of that many people. How were they able to overcome the piercing stares of the congregation? How were they able to speak with such conviction that you know it fully stems from passion? How were they able to convey their fervour for the subject matter not just through their words, but through their body language and voice modulation?
Public speaking is an art. It is not just about the delivery of words but also the diction, pauses, volume, gestures and style which you choose to effectively convey your message. Here at Raffles, Gavel Club is where we strive to harness the power of words through public speaking. If you have the same questions listed above and would like to hone this crucial skill, we warmly invite you to join us!
So, what exactly is Gavel Club? We are a subsidiary of Toastmasters International, which is an organization that aims to empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. We follow their established curriculum consisting of 10 speaking projects as a part of our club activities. These projects are in the form of speeches presented during CCA sessions. Upon completion of all the projects, members are given a globally-recognized Toastmasters accreditation, certifying each member as a speaker and advocate.
Twice a week, we meet for two hours to carry out the Toastmaster projects and to participate in a variety of speaking exercises. A typical session consists of warm-up speaking exercises, followed by a few speech games focused on a particular aspect of speaking, then speeches by members. These weekly sessions serve as a platform for members to practice and gain experience in speech-making, as well as to be guided by feedback from mentors and peers.
In Gavel Club, we provide and sustain a safe space for members to explore issues close to their hearts. Besides speaking, we firmly believe in the importance of listening and being present during speeches by other members. So if you have ideas waiting to be shared, perspectives to be presented, or thoughts to be voiced, Gavel is the place for you!
Beyond CCA sessions, Gavel offers other opportunities to grow as a speaker. We often participate in competitions organized by other Gavel Clubs. This year, we attended the Tampines Junior College Inter JC/CI Oratorical Competition, and placed top three for both impromptu and prepared speeches. We also took part in the Dunman High Oratorical Competition, achieving 1st Place and 1st Runner-up. Occasionally, there are additional speech workshops conducted in school by external established public speakers.
In school, we contribute to activities such as emceeing for school-wide events or collaborating with other CCAs on matters regarding public speaking. For instance, we emceed for the Promethean Ceremony and the Y6 Farewell Assembly.
Gavel Club welcomes all interested Rafflesians, regardless of CCA background, speaking ability, or speaking experience. It is truly not about how good you already are at public speaking, but about your desire to want to become better. Our selection process (trials) is not based on ability, but rather on one’s willingness to learn, as well as receptiveness to constructive criticism. We greatly look forward to welcoming our new batch of Gaveliers, whom we hope will grow as speakers and listeners through their time in Gavel!