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Toasting to success.

Pubdate: (16/05/2012)

After winning the Toastmasters International contest here in Oman, Ali al Farai has his eyes set on the top prize at this year's regional competition in Bahrain

Working as a professional at a firm here in Muscat, Ali al Farai used to often listen to motivational speakers that his company hired for pep talks. "I used to get so inspired when I heard them talking. And I always wanted to talk like that, motivate people and make them happy with what I had to say," he explained. However, it did not look like Ali would ever realise this goal, as he was terrified of public speaking. "Forget about speaking in front of a crowd, I would get nervous speaking to a group of three or four people." But he did overcome his fears and he is now headed to Bahrain to take part in Toastmasters International, a public speaking competition where Ali will be representing Oman.

It has been two years since Ali became a member of Toastmasters International and earlier this month he went on to beat all the other members from Oman to win the division level competition. He faced champion speakers from Oman's many Toastmasters clubs who prescribe to the Toastmasters formula of preparing members to become good public speakers. "A lot of companies have Toastmaster Clubs and I competed against them to win the title of Oman's Champion of Public Speaking," he said. Contestants are expected to compete in any of four categories Humorous, International, Table Topics and Evaluation Speech by speaking for five to seven minutes. Ali was adjudged the winner in the humorous and international categories.

Ali has made a career out of his newfound ability to speak in front of crowds. He now goes around speaking to students and office employees as part of his programme called 'The Stage is Yours' as a

public speaker and soft skills trainer. Called ProMind Training and Development, the company was his way out of a dead-end job that he had started to abhor. "I really did not like my job and I would often day-dream of inspiring and entertaining people with my speeches,"

he said. But because of his problem with stage fright, he did not know how to go about it.

"And that's when I found Toas-tmasters International."Going through the ten levels of development as a speaker, the programme helped prepare him to a level where he now enjoys speaking in front of large audiences. "The more people there are in front of me now, the more confident I am," he said. His Morison Muscat team would meet every week with some members delivering speeches and others evaluating them. "Not only would the speaker be evaluated, but the judge would also be graded on his evaluation skills," he explained.

So now when he tries to motivate people with his speeches, all he needs to do is to dig into his

own past for inspiration. The speeches that won him his Omani title this year are perfect examples of this. "In the humour category, I delivered a prepared speech called 'Doors of Opportunity.' Peppered with humour, this speech recollected my repeated failures before I finally succeeded. I believe that when one door closes, even that failure might open up another possibility that you would not even have considered otherwise," he said. Although he is not much of a comedian, he makes use of humour to entertain his audiences. "Darren LeCroix, a former public speaking champion had said, 'Humourise to humanise,' and I always try to live by those words."

Ali is of the belief that in life, we only get the things that we really want. "A lot of people wish and daydream about a lot of things. But you have to really want it. And then chances are, you will do whatever it is you can to get it," he explained. This is part of his speech that he has prepared for the competition in Bahrain, and it is based on his struggle to master the English language. Although he spoke Arabic and Hindi at home, his English was quite bad. "I could write grammatically correct English, but speaking was a big problem for me," he said. He fixed that by working on himself and now he is a tri-lingual speaker delivering speeches in all three languages with equal ease.

He will need all that determination as he squares off to some of the best speakers from all around the Middle East later this month - May 24 to 26. "But again, as I always say, if you really want something badly, you just might end up getting it," Ali smiled.

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:May 20, 2012
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