I delivered my project #3 on November 6.
The title for Project #3 is “Get to the point” The expectations from this are that the project must have a General purpose (To entertain, to inform etc) and a specific purpose (something like to inform about ill-effects of procrastination). The entire speech should gel in well to support these purposes. And of-course No notes!!

Here’s the content of my speech:

Break the Chain!!

Did you know that if you’re being forced to withdraw money from ATM at gunpoint, you can inform the police by entering your pin in reverse?
Or that Coca-cola logo is a secret message directed against a particular religion and the blasphemous message is clear if you hold the logo in front of a mirror?
And off-course, you know that Bill Gates is sharing his fortune and you can be a beneficiary if you choose to forward a certain mail?

All of these seemingly unrelated examples are: appealing, interesting and informative; But the biggest connection is: Source of all of these are chain-mails and at the same time each of them is incorrect.

Mr. Toastmaster and fellow toastmasters,
My speech today is to urge you to break-the-chain:: to stop being part of chain-mails
Well, not all chain-mails are bad. My grudge is against the mails that seek to lure or threaten the recipient into forcefully continuing the chain: the ones, which are meant to spread hatred, superstitions or misinformation or simply to continue the chain. Yes, I’ve even seen a chain saying: let’s see how far it can get; just add your name to the list and forward it to your friends. Can it get any dumber than this??

At this juncture, many of you may be feeling what harm an innocuous forwarded mail can do even if it’s factually incorrect? This is what many of my friends argue. But believe me it’s more dangerous than it looks.

To start with, it can make you look like an idiot. Sample this: I got a mail from one of my juniors asking me to forward it to 10 guys and then press F6 five times. The mail claimed that after this, the name of my Secret admirer will appear on the screen. Such garbage coming from a software engineer!! I stopped reading his mails after that.

Many of us, who normally do not forward unsolicited mails, often give in to the emotional appeals and consider our job to the society done after forwarding such mails. I believe that most of us must have at some time received a mail regarding Red-Cross donating a cent for a cancer-struck child or for some 9/11 victim. What we don’t realize is the fact that we’re in fact causing more harm to the reputation and work of such organizations by forwarding unverified information about them. And then, they need to spend hundreds of man-hours for refuting the contents of the mail.

Coming to more serious effects:
Remember: often the original context of the mail is often lost in a chain and if some legal issue crops up and the mail is traced back to you, then you can be considered the author of that mail. Are you prepared to take that risk? Let us take a fictional scenario of Mr X, working for Microsoft, India, who gets a hoax-mail regarding a new virus attacking Windows XP. Mr. X forwards it to some of his friends thinking what’s wrong with being cautious. His friends forward it claiming “This comes from one of friends, who is working for Microsoft.” It won’t take more than two-three steps of the chain for that to become “This comes from officially from Microsoft” Very soon, MS is contacted for verification and when they trace the mail to their own employee, do you think it’s going to be easy for Mr X. I’ve read about employees losing their jobs on similar grounds.
Things can get worse for people who fall for such imaginary ideas. Think what can happen if you try the ATM trick and the tech-savvy robber gets to know that you were actually trying to inform the police.

Now that I believe I’ve managed to convince you against the dangers that this menace poses, here are some ideas to counter it.
The minimum we can do is not to be the source of any such message. A 2-minute search can reveal its falsehood. There’re sites like Break-the-chain and Hoax-slayer dedicated to the cause and they’ll give you scientific reasons why the particular message is hoax. But don’t stop at just ignoring the mail. If you’re able to establish the fakeness of the mail, do attack the source. Reply to the sender, mention the links and request him to write a damage control mail to recipients of this mail as well as the person from whom he got the mail. I know this may create a kind of reverse-chain, but this surely is worth it.
Further if you really like to forward something, ask yourself if you’re ready to be identified as the original source of message. Such simple steps and you’ve done your bit against this menace.

Dear Toastmasters, the e-mail is one of the best things to have happened to mankind in the field of communication. Let’s be responsible users and not abuse this great communication tool. We just need to use some common sense and follow some simple steps to Break-the-chain every time we encounter one!!

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15 Comments on Toastmasters Project #3: Break the chain!!

  1. raj says:

    good message..!

  2. abhay says:

    Awesome…………

  3. […] Breakthechain, chain mails, emails, forwards trackback Well, this is in continuity of my post “Break the chain”, a post directed against useless chain mails. I very strongly believe that all of us should […]

  4. […] Break the Chain by Amit Bhatnagar General purpose: To persuade Specific purpose: To encourage the audience to stop forwarding chain email. […]

  5. OLEG says:

    Every little old lady who forwards ridiculous cautionary messages to her whole address book ought to read your speech.

    Thanks.

  6. […] Messenger HoaxesKutipan dari Break The Chain To start with, it can make you look like an idiot. Sample this: I got a mail from one of my juniors […]

  7. Pooja says:

    Very creative topic. All of us get at least 2 such mails in our mailbox everyday. Some of us forward them and some just ignore. But this speech has really put some light on the harms caused by such mails. Thanks Amit and Congrats!!

  8. Thanks Pooja for your comments..
    I hope my speech did help me “get to the point.” 🙂

  9. Ravi Sivaraman says:

    Excellent message. Wow! Amit had also advised to do reverse chain and attack the source! I am sure many like me might not thought doing such thing although we wish to do. You also created awareness not only to speakers in toastmasters but also random webreaders like me.

  10. tearsndreams says:

    Hi Amit,

    Came in here looking for ideas for my 3rd TM speech. And am leaving really impressed by the quality of your speeches (this is particularly hilarious) and by your initiative. It takes a certain personality to know your short comings and work at them with such determination.
    All the best with your MBA program

  11. […] Project 3 Speech of Toastmaster and it was well appreciated. Again the main source of the speech is here. At the same time, I feel the time is coming that I have to begin writing my speeches of my own […]

  12. Faris says:

    Amit, did a good job, still your message is conveying…

  13. amit says:

    awesome stuff, dude !

  14. Vivek Shrivas says:

    Thanks for sharing this! Could you please advise some visual aid or solid examples? Thanks so much in advance.

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