Yup. I'm getting plenty of practice, particularly in giving ceramah speeches in Mandarin at our Machap campaign. I must say, practice certainly gives one a lot more confidence. I've been giving presentations, speaking at forums all my adult life, so what's the difference when speaking at the election rallies?
I can think of 3 key differences.
Firstly, when speaking forums or giving business presentations, the audience is often targetted and content is often specialised and more detailed. The challenge hence is to bring well-supported and reasoned arguments to the masses without boring them to death. There are usually some 10 speakers speaking at each ceramah (sometimes more), hence you will certainly have to be really sharp to drive home your points.
Secondly, politics at ceramahs is really the art of tugging the hearts. Or to put it bluntly, the ability of stirring emotions. People often vote with their hearts. Hence while forums tend to be a little more calm and collected, rallies needs to be emotionally convincing and inspiring.
Thirdly, politics is business, it's not personal. Ironically, that means one must not shy away from hitting hard at the opponents, both the person and the party, when it's justifiable. In forums, we are often more polite and give a little more face to the opponents. But certainly, that won't cut it for ceramahs. I had a good time having a go at the MCA hero, and I definitely got better at it the 2nd time round (you can tell from the response of the audience) ;).
Certainly, by listening to the other leaders speak, I have learnt a great deal over the past week or so. It's great that I get this chance to learn the ropes (and better understand my weaknesses), to go into the coming elections fully prepared ;). Of course, hopefully by telling my little stories, I get to help Sdr Liou Chen Kuang garner a few extra votes!
I'll probably be speaking in Machap for the last round tomorrow (Tuesday). We have a record 5 ceramahs running concurrently tomorrow, one in each of the Chinese new villages (Machap Baru and Machap Umboo), one in Tebong (concentrated Indian community), one in Melaka Pindah as well as one in Hutan Percha (Felda scheme). The last two are essentially UMNO bastions. I should be popping by at least one of the Malay villages tomorrow, if not to speak and practise my rusty Malay, then at least to see the reception we get.
On Wednesday, there'll be two mega ceramahs, one in Machap Baru, while the other is at Melaka Pindah. All the big shots will be speaking (so obviously there won't be room for me ;)), and Anwar is coming to town. So it should be fun!