“GUINNESS WORLD RECORD SPEECH MARATHON (TEAM) RECORD OF 126 hrs 28 min . . . and we’ve done it!” reads the slide on the New Zealand Toastmasters website now. It was an ultimate Team Event. Over 150 Toastmasters showcased their skills and contributed their bit by speaking one after another for as long as they liked. The participants presented over 400 speeches on an assortment of topics.
The speakers came from all over the country and the world. Witnesses were present throughout the extraordinary performance. The night birds spoke through the night. The audience, on rotation, were there to encourage and support the world record being created. The follow up steps have begun which include the tedious process of putting the evidence together and sending it to the Guinness, and it is a no mean task. It was a matter of pride for me to represent the Bangalore Toastmasters Club at an event of this magnitude.
When I first read about the “Run The Red,” it sparked curiosity in me. When I found out that it was a Speech Marathon to break the Guinness World Record, needed to be a part of it.
I was directed to the website to block a slot. It was a continuous public speaking event of 10 plus minutes each by individual active Toastmasters from any District spread over 5 days. Rob Wightman, one of the event coordinators from Auckland Advanced Toastmasters Club and the PRM Toastmasters District 112, gave me a time slot for the 24th of April. It also was the ANZAC day and a public holiday.
Since it was a public holiday, Vijay, my husband agreed to drive me to the event and back. I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to accompany me to the event and hear me speak.
It was a day of many firsts –
- The first time I was presenting a speech outside my home club
- The first time I was presenting a prepared speech in Auckland
- The first time Vijay was going to be present in the audience when I was speaking in public
- The first time I was being part of any marathon event
- The very first time I was contributing my bit towards breaking or creating a Guinness World Record
I was nervous and excited. I was briefed and registered. I was directed towards the room to wait for my turn. The room, the stage and the set up were nothing like what I had seen before or experienced. It comprised of the Speakers, the supporters, the witnesses, the timekeepers, the organisers and the audience.
It was very well laid out and organised. The camera was rolling on one side and the witnesses were seated on the other side of the speaker. The timekeepers occupied the front row seats that were placed beside the chair of the “next speaker.” There were very clear instructions for the “next speaker” to start speaking immediately and not to have a break or pause for more than 30 seconds! A herculean task indeed.
The chart on the board displayed my name 6th from the top, which meant I had five speakers before me and I didn’t not know how long each of them would be speaking or what they would be speaking about.
It was also another first for me to sit and enjoy the speeches before my turn rather than feel the butterflies in my stomach. I listened to participants speak about many interesting topics.
One that I cannot forget was of a medical professional who shared her story of how she was diagnosed with brain tumour. She passed around photos of her MRI scan and narrated stories and incidents of her life before and after the tumour was diagnosed and the surgery she had to undergo.
A young boy who spoke ahead of me narrated his views and opinions about the movie “Avengers – The End game”. I had watched that movie only the day before and was so engrossed in what he was talking, it was almost difficult for me to concentrate and prepare myself to speak next.
When it was my turn to speak, I composed myself and commenced with a lot of excitement. Though, I was standing in front of an audience full of strangers, I still felt comfortable. I was speaking as a part of the team which was going to break the Guinness World Record. Videos of Guinness world record was something that I would religiously watch on TV and admire the people breaking or creating records. There I was, spoking for 10 minutes 26 seconds and became a part of breaking or creating a new World Record.
The topic that I had chosen for that day was “The Human Library”. Complimenting the topic of my choice, I was sitting in a room filled with human books. I listened to the lives, likes and views on subjects that were new to me. It was intriguing, interesting and informative. I was literally in a library filled with Human Books while I waited for my turn to come.
Life Lesson learnt – Grab every opportunity that comes your way. Go with the flow and enjoy everything that you stumble upon.