Toastmasters Speech 9 : Black Mirror

As a follow up to my blogpost: “Dumbing my Smartphone” I thought of reframing it as my Toastmasters CC9 speech. CC9 is all about persuading your audience to take some action or change their beliefs. I attempted to ask the audience to do away with their phone’s notifications.

The title was inspired by the TV series Black Mirror. Do check that out!

Here’s the script for the speech:

Can I request you all, to take out your smartphones…
And place them in front of yourself on the table.
With the screen facing up
Thank you!

Toastmaster of the day, Fellow Toastmasters, And Guests!
Good Afternoon!

Now tell me, how long can you resist NOT looking at your phone screen?

Or even glancing it.

I am assuming that each phone here is in Silent Mode, but you can still have distractions, right?

Now can you please place your phone face down? Thanks a lot.

Since we don’t have any distractions anymore, can anyone here tell me about a term called “Gamification”?

The dictionary definition says: Gamification is the process of adding games or game-like elements to something like a task to encourage participation.

For example, there are Numbered Levels in a Video Game. As soon as you finish Level-1, the next challenge pops up. And you find yourself eager to go to the next level. And the next, and the next. There is a sense of reward, an achievement when one does that.

I am sure you can relate to another example.

Project 1 – Ice Breaker

Project 2 – Organise your Speech

Project 9 – Persuade with Power

Project 10 – Inspire your Audience

You get a Competent Communicator Award.

And then?

Advance Communicator Bronze, then Silver and, then Gold and so on.

Human Mind finds “Next Level” or in general “Numbers” irresistible. As soon as we achieve a level or a number, we want to go to the next. Then next and so on.

This Gamification concept, has been beautifully used on our Smartphones. Through a simple, harmless word called as “Notifications”.

Admit it or not, our ego gets a boost or a jolt when we see Notifications on our Phone. It could be a New Message. A +1 in number of New Friends in Facebook. Or New Followers on Twitter. We want to get more Number of Likes and more Number of Retweets. And as soon as we see a Notification Number on an app, we like to read it, we want to read it, we *have* to read it.

And this is how, we turn into ‘Screen Time Addicts’.

Too much of our time is being spent looking at our phone screens.

Studies show that, an average person, spends 3 to 4 hours looking at their phones in a day. That is, apart from office hours where we spend our time by looking at Computer Screens for at least 6 hours a day.

So do we all agree that we do spend a lot of time looking down at this black mirror, instead of looking up?

When we go to a restaurant, as soon as we settle down, everyone’s phones come out. And before taking the first bite, we first take Instagram Picture of our food. And after we take our first bite, we check again to see the number of Likes.

When we meet our family and friends, shortly after, we stop looking at them and instead start checking our WhatsApp messages. Looking for approvals and gratification from virtual friends than real people.

I don’t want to brag, but I have close to 900 friends on Facebook. I run a Facebook page with over 8000 Likes. I have over 1000 followers on my Twitter account and I am part of over 25 groups on Whatsapp. People love me? Heh, of course not. I get notifications left and right, morning or evening, day or night!

And I am *seriously* fed up of notifications. So much of distraction they are, which actually affects productivity.

So do we all agree that there is a problem, right? And we should do something about it.

I am going to try to help you all, and also, help myself through this speech. I am as much guilty of above actions, as you may be.

There are 3 ways to get rid of your Screen Time.

1st Way – The Hard Way

Throw away your smart phone or Drop it in the dustbin. Move on with life!

Of course, that is not possible. Phones are not free of cost. You have already spent more than your salary on them.

2nd Way – The Relatively Easier Way

Get your smart phone exchanged. And switch to this.

[ showed a dumb phone : samsung guru ]

This is the cheapest phone available. It costs Rs. 1200. It has no Internet, no FM, no Bluetooth, No MP3. No notifications. But it does its job of calling perfectly. And fits the pocket really well! Only notifications are SMS. And who sends SMS nowadays?

3rd Way – The Easiest Way

No need to throw your iPhones. No need to exchange your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (anyways they will blast off themselves).

All you have to do is to switch off the things which can curb your Phone’s Gamification Quotient.

Go to your phone settings and then the app you use the most.

Just do this – Switch off the notifications. Simply. Block them all. No notification, no distraction.

Whenever you are free and want to get connected, you can open the app and see it directly. Instead of Phone pushing down notifications upon you. You can pull them yourself.

Shutting down notifications is the best thing which I did recently. It helped me to focus better, increase my productivity and allowed to me to talk more freely to people face to face. You can do the same. Just try it for a few days and see the difference.

We should only pay attention to one notification. Hiccups! They say, when someone actually remembers you, you get hiccups. That’s the only notification you should care about!

I have taken charge to not get notified every 5 minutes!

We should not leave our life on the mercy of notifications.

We should take control of our lives back from this Black Mirror.

High time we do this!

Let’s get back our lives!!!

Here’s a brilliant comic book style poster series for the show BTW:


And more: