On June 7th, I completed my Seventh Advanced Manuals Speech (17th overall) for Toastmasters at CSUSB. My speech was entitled, “Whispers from the Dead,” which is an episode from a new show called “Hear No Evil” on the Investigation Discovery channel.
This story is about two teenage cousins named Nick and Halie who broke into a house of an older gentleman named Byron Smith on Thanksgiving Day in Little Falls, Minnesota in 2012, and Mr. Smith shot them in cold blood.
This story is different because the homicide was caught on audio tape, and you could hear the grunts and cries from Nick and Halie as Mr. Smith shot and killed them both.
I started my speech saying, “What you are about to hear is graphic and disturbing.” I instantly caught the audience’s attention because I could tell they wanted to know what my speech was going to be about.
I described how Mr. Smith’s house got broken into previously and he became paranoid. Mr. Smith retired from working for the Federal Government and was an expert with video and audio surveillance, and he put surveillance all over his house because he felt his life was in danger.
Nick and Halie are teenage cousins, and according to their Grandparents, they are good kids, who sometimes got into trouble. On Thanksgiving Day, both teens decided to rob Mr. Smith’s house. On Thanksgiving Day, Mr. Smith parked his car around the corner to make it look like his house wasn’t occupied. He walked back to his house and went to his basement and waited with his gun ready to kill any intruders.
Nick looked for ways to break into Mr. Smith’s house, and Mr. Smith saw him on his surveillance video and he decided not to call the police. Nick broke a window and entered the house, and when he walked down the basement stairs, Mr. Smith shot him dead. Halie called Nick on his cell phone to ask what was taking so long, but Nick never answered.
Halie approached the house, and Mr. Smith saw her through a window when he went upstairs to wash his hands. Mr. Smith quickly ran back down to the basement and waited for her to enter. Halie broke into the house, without the intention of stealing anything, but to look for her cousin. Halie opened the basement door and walked down the stairs and was shot and killed also.
Since surveillance was all over Mr. Smith’s house, the FBI seized it for evidence and one FBI Investigator said this was the first time in his career where he heard a homicide recorded.
The audio tape captured Nick’s grunts as he was shot, and Halie’s cries, pleading for her life saying, “I’m sorry!” as Mr. Smith shot her multiple times.
Mr. Smith was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
I concluded my speech saying, “I believe Nick and Halie were wrong for breaking into Mr. Smith’s house, but Mr. Smith didn’t have the right to be judge, jury and executioner to those teenagers.”
My evaluator said it wasn’t crystal clear if the theme of my speech was about the right to defend our own home or to stand your ground. I explained to her Mr. Smith purposely parked his car around the corner, so it looked like his house wasn’t occupied and he waited for robbers to enter his house and to kill them.
She also explained I could have did a better job explaining the theme of my speech.
She noticed I started my speech with excellent scene settings before the action happened within my speech. I laid the foundation for the audience and made it easy for them to follow along with the story I was trying to tell.
She also said from my last speech, my voice was soft and was dropping off at the end of my sentences, but that technique worked perfectly for this speech topic because the softness of my voice counter balanced the heavy content that I provided within my speech.
My evaluator liked how I told the story with supporting details. She explained I built the story as if the audience was watching the show with me, and there were no unanswered details.
According to the guests and other Toastmasters members in the audience, my speech ranged from excellent, very good and good in many areas such as preparation and structure, directness and confidence and eye contact surveying the room as I was speaking. I also got constructive criticism, which consisted of having vocal variety while speaking, more expressive body language (some of the audience don’t know that it’s difficult for me to control my body language because I have a prosthetic leg) and more enthusiasm when I speak.
Overall, my speech for the last Toastmasters meeting of the quarter at CSUSB was good, and the topic I chose was a departure from my personal story that I want to share with the world. I’m a huge fan of Investigation Discovery, and this story touched me the most emotionally because it’s a classic case of being at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and unfortunately two teenagers lost their lives. I decided to do this heavy speech topic to show my versatility and storytelling ability as a public speaker.
To check out my “CalmandStrong: Investigation Discovery: Hear No Evil” speech, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqDkm8mD-Vc
* On June 9th, I volunteered at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital and one of the nurses who took care of me while I was doing chemotherapy treatment at 14 and 17 years old was talking to another patient’s Mother. The nurse told the Mother I had the same cancer as her child and now I’m giving back by volunteering.
* The Mother asked me when was I diagnosed, and I told her from 1999-2003, because I had cancer twice. I had knee cancer when I was 14 years old, and it came back when I was 17 years old. I also said this year (2017), I am 14 years cancer free.
* The Child Life Assistant put my last speech, “The Connection,” which is about my story of being a two-time cancer survivor and hip amputee on the hospital computer. To check it out, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zQ2xvCoxw0
I don’t own any content and images from Investigation Discovery: Hear No Evil.
No Copyright Intended. All image content is copyright to their respective owners. All rights go to Investigation Discovery.
Pena, Jessica. Investigation Discovery Logo Image. Digital image. TV Series Finale. TV Series Finale, 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 2 June 2017. http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/investigation-discovery-preview-five-new-true-crime-tv-series-january-1st/