One month ago, us freshmen, despite toiling through numerous orientation events, bounded excitedly into university - full of raw energy and fresh with passion. And one month later, by 14th September, having experienced enough of university to begin feeling battle-weary thanks to the onslaught of presentations, projects and assignments, we celebrate making through our first month alive.
But more excitingly, 14th September 2016 also marks the end of the of a heart-pumping and challenging journey for the 8 finalists of Voice Personality Hunt 2016! Voice Personality Hunt is a hosting competition (yep, it’s NOT a singing competition!) organized by SMU Broadcast Entertainment (SMUBE). Beyond serving as a platform to showcase one’s speaking and presentation skills, the competition also serves as an avenue to meet like-minded friends of similar interests and receive speaking tips from experienced mentors.
The lovely ladies of Quarter-Finals!
Guys from Quarter-Finals posing fabulously for the camera!
For a gut-wrenching three weeks, participants engaged in weekly elimination rounds to determine who would be crowned the winner. At this point, VPH is starting to sound like a bloodthirsty competition - but really, this could not be further from the truth.
As a participant myself who was blessed enough to make it to week 2 of the competition, VPH allowed me to peek beyond the stage to discover what goes on behind the scenes. From scheduled photo shoots, trainings by guest speakers, and personal practice with our own mentors, I truly enjoyed every stage of the competition.
One of the most important things I learned was to be confident onstage. It sounds like it's the most obvious thing in the world, but having had prior experience with hosting, I always wondered if I was the only one to experience jitters before going on stage. To my surprise, I found that stage fright was the norm amongst most of us: had anyone peeked backstage before each VPH event began, they would have been privy to scenes of nervous huddling and motivational pep talks. But when the time came to take the stage, participants had to cast aside their reservations and fears, and stride onstage bravely to face the crowd.
This is something I personally had a difficulty with, because I unconsciously tense up onstage. It's because of this that I have full admiration for those who can present smoothly without allowing their nerves to get the better of them. Confidence issues onstage can only ever be managed with time and experience, so I look forward to more opportunities to go onstage and build my confidence! While I also had preconceived notions about how a host or emcee should portray themselves during a show - formal, polite and always smiling - VPH erased all the notions I held. I learnt that no matter the formality or scale of the occasion, there will always be opportunities and ways to show your personality through interactions and interludes with your partner.
A particularly fun memory I recall from my stint in VPH was one of the training sessions by a guest speaker. During that session, participants were randomly paired up and given a topic to speak about for one minute. The results were hilarious! Simple topics such as “favourite colour” and “best movie” were given interesting twists and turns, as partners bounced off each other to forge lively conversations. Though some of us fumbled here and there, the accommodating environment made sure that we never felt awkward.
Here, we have the semi-finalists embodying different emotions in their group photos. (Try spotting me in yellow!)
At the Grand Finals, the 8 participants who survived the tough competition process made sure to pull out all the stops to showcase their talents, as well as skills they had picked up and refined over the course of the competition. Every one of them seemed to effortlessly wow the crowd as they maneuvered the stage with grace. Even when faced with the challenge of the impromptu segment ("Talk about a given idiom within a provided context"), they rose to the occasion and took to it like a fish takes to water. *I tried*
Despite excellent showings from all participants, only one could be crowned Voice Personality of SMU 2016. Ultimately, the title went to Year 2, School of Social Sciences student, Gladys Yuen, who displayed poise and elegance despite being given a difficult combination for her impromptu segment. The first and second runners-up, Cassandra Seow and Dexter Choo, also stole the hearts of the audience with their playful banter, onstage chemistry and wide range of jokes.
The finalists, together with the guest judges and their mentors onstage.
At the end of it all, it occurred to me that VPH was just like Pokemon GO. Without the developers to develop the game, and the tech support to allow players to continue accessing the game, there wouldn't be Pokemon Masters. Similarly, without the organizing committee and mentors, there wouldn't have been us participants.
And so I segue subtly into my appreciation segment – I'd like to give a huge shout out to the organizing committee for making this hosting journey smooth and fun for everyone involved. Many thanks to the backstage crew for always taking charge and getting us ready for the stage! To our incredible mentors - the equivalent of seasoned Gym Leaders - who appraised us and gave us valuable tips for self-improvement, a sincere thank you to you. And finally, a big thank you to my fellow Pokemon trainers who were there with me throughout the entire journey! We may have had to part ways unexpectedly at certain junctures, but such is the nature of a journey. Our paths may diverge, but our journeys have not ended, and neither will our friendships!