Friday, November 26, 2010

Speaking to Inform Project 3 - Rock, Paper, Scissors

[Started by  showing 3 gestures - a fist, an open palm and a V-sign]
Can anyone guess what my talk is going to be about?
It is about a very simple age-old game which originated from China and then became very popular in Japan. It is called Rock, Paper, and Scissors. I first came to know about this game during my schooldays when I read Ian Fleming’s book “You Only Live Twice”. In that book James Bond & Tiger Tanaka, the chief of Japanese secret service play this game.
Since then over the years I taught this game to my kid cousins, my niece and many small children. I got a very enthusiastic response from them. So if you want to keep young kids from getting into too much of mischief or want wean them away from computer games and TV serials which they have got addicted to, teach them this game. It will keep them occupied for a long time.
So without much ado let us start understanding the rules of this game.

This stands for Rock [showed a fist]; this stands for Paper [showed a palm]. Paper can cover the Rock [covered the fist with the palm], so it is stronger.
This stands for Scissors [made a V-sign].  A Rock can blunt the scissors. So Rock is stronger.
A Scissor can cut the Paper, so it is stronger than the Paper.

Let us play a demonstration game now. Can I have a volunteer please who will play with me ? [One person volunteered; incidentally she happened to be the Club President ! ]
At the count of three both of us will simultaneously show one of the three  - Rock or Paper or Scissors. The winner of the show will be decided based on the rules just explained
[Played three shows. Incidentally I won the game 2-1]

Now you know how this game is played. But mind you, it is more than a child’s game.
You may think that the results of this game is random like a tossing a coin. But it is not so, since human beings are in control of what they will choose, there is quite a bit of psychology and strategy involved in this game. You can get to know about these strategies in the internet.  One good website to go to is 

Many Rock Paper Scissors competitions are held world over.  Last year a film called “The Flying Scissors” was also made about this game.
A few years back this game was used to settle a long drawn out a legal battle between two parties in a Florida court.
Once  two famous auctioneers Christie’s and Sotheby’s were asked by a Japanese industrialist to play Rock, Paper, Scissors  to decide who will get  the contract  to auction the paintings which he had in his possession. Christie’s won the commission by choosing “Scissors”, since Sotheby’s chose “Paper”.
 We Toastmasters always expect a  message in a speech so here it goes  - Be strong (Rock gesture) ! Be Calm  (Palm gesture) ! Victory (V-sign)  will be yours.

[Date Delivered:  November  20 2010

  • Prepare a demonstration speech to clearly explain a process, product or activity.
  • Conduct the demonstration as part of a speech delivered without notes.
Time: Five to Seven Minutes

For this project, I had made up my mind not to do a Powerpoint presentation, since the facility for the same is not guaranteed in our club . But it so happened on this day two other speeches were  Project 8  speeches (Visual aid) from Competent Communicator Manual and the speakers had organized for LCD projection system  to make Powerpoint presentations ! If I had known about this in advance, probably I also could have joined them !

Anyway my initial intention was to demonstrate any scientific principle through some common objects, but somehow I could not think of anything which would keep the audience interested.
And then one day it suddenly struck me to do a demo of Rock, Paper, Scissors Game. And when I surfed internet, I could find quite a few interesting facts about this game. So the topic problem was solved !
After this it was pretty much smooth sailing. My speech did not require any rewrites (normally I rewrite 4 to 5 times ) and I hardly rehearsed. Yet, I think this was one speech in which I was completely my natural self while delivering it in a very interactive manner. 

 I try to avoid giving a message as far as possible in my speech (unless of course it is a  requirement of the project). I don't like to preach unless I can practice what I preach. 
But the audience (at least in my club) expects a message in every speech. I don't see any reason why this should be the case.
The original intended ending of the speech was
""Do you know what message this game conveys?  Why do you look for a message in every  speech? There is no message.  Just go and enjoy the game!""
But later I thought it would be better to introduce an element of self-deprecating humor at the Toastmasters by concocting a message out of blue when actually there was none. So I ended it as
"We Toastmasters always expect a  message in a speech so here it goes  - Be strong (Rock gesture) ! Be Calm  (Palm gesture) ! Victory (V-sign)  will be yours"
And to my astonishment it was taken very seriously and I received appreciation for this concocted and retrofitted message  by some members !
But I guess my disinterest in giving a message was very apparent since I got an evaluation which said that while the speech was good , I had hurried up the message part. It should have been delivered with more impact after a weighty pause !
Fellow Toastmasters, give me a break ! Why can't we have just some simple fun without preaching or being preached !

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