Level 2 Leadership Quiz

Do you like taking online quizzes?  Pathways thinks we must all love them since they give us so many to take.  The Leadership quiz or Communications quiz always shows up in Level 2 of Pathways.

This project is fairly simple:  take the quiz, give a speech.

This causes a lot of concern – if everyone in Toastmasters is taking the leadership quiz or the communications quiz, aren’t we going to get a lot of identical speeches?

Let’s take a look at the Leadership quiz and the assigned speech project and see what really happens. Continue reading “Level 2 Leadership Quiz”

Research and Organize Your Speech

Are you ready to research and organize your speech?  Good, because that’s the last project in Level 1.

Pathways provides you with a couple of PDFs to help you organize your material and your speech.  They outline 7 different types of speeches.  They explain that speeches have 3 distinct parts – the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

How important is speech organization?

Making sure that your material is presented in a logical format is the difference between communication – and chaos.  That’s how important it is.

Just throwing all your information at your audience is not informative nor persuasive.  Your task as a speaker requires you to be proactive – to present your data and conclusions in a format that a listener can follow.  Your call to action will be obvious and motivating only if you organize your material first.

Pick your topic

Picking your topic for this speech is less comfortable than the previous speeches, when I recommended that you pick a topic you know and like.  Continue reading “Research and Organize Your Speech”

Evaluation Evaluations

Impromptu Evaluation Speaking

Since we communicate in the moment, often with no opportunity to plan our speech, you see why it’s critical to build those impromptu speaking skills.  It’s not just about meeting that rock star, or getting a chance to pitch the perfect idea in an elevator to the investor or your dreams.  It’s about finding your voice, whatever the situation, and being able to use it.

Are we talking Table Topics here?

Yes, obviously.  But we’re also talking about speech evaluations.  When you think about it, a speech evaluation is pretty much an impromptu speech that requires some logical and rational thought on the fly. Continue reading “Evaluation Evaluations”

Tracking Your Club Meeting Roles

Being a toastmaster means more than giving speeches and the occasional evaluation.  These meetings don’t happen by themselves, you know.  Club meeting roles are important.

Club Meeting Roles

If you’ve attended a meeting, you know there’s a Toastmaster of the day – a ringleader or MC who manages part or all of the meeting.

There’s a table topics leader who poses the prompt for the impromptu speeches – and who may call for votes to be sent in to pick a winner.

The general evaluator might lead the 2nd portion of the meeting – the evaluation section.  This person may call up the speech evaluators, the grammarian and ah-counter and the timer to give reports on how well the club meeting was handled.  This is handled in different ways within clubs – be aware of how your club manages these reports.

All of these roles are important for you to take – even if you don’t think you’re ready to do it. Continue reading “Tracking Your Club Meeting Roles”

Pathways Evaluations

I’ve said for a while that the evaluations you receive and give at a Toastmasters meeting are Toastmasters’ secret sauce.  Immediate feedback has always been recognized as the best way to learn. That reinforcement of your good skills and a look at what could be done to improve make you better faster than everything else.

The evaluation has 2 parts.  The verbal evaluation is the speech that’s given during the club meeting.  The written evaluation is a form you’ll download from the Pathways website for the evaluator to take notes on and return to you after the meeting.

As the speaker, you need to provide the evaluation form from the project.  On the surface, this evaluation form looks fairly standardized.  They are.  There aren’t significant changes from one project evaluation form to another.  What is different? Continue reading “Pathways Evaluations”

What’s Up with Project 2?

Ever been lost?  Completely without your bearings?  That uncomfortable moment when nothing looks like you think it should?

Based on what I’m hearing from a lot of Toastmasters, that’s how they feel about Project 2.

Project 2 is complicated.

For Advanced Toastmasters, we’re confused.

For new Toastmasters, we’re confused.

Why is it so confusing? Continue reading “What’s Up with Project 2?”

Ice Breaker: Everyone’s Project 1

Level 1 sounds… basic.  Like boot camp.  Where you start.

Level 1 Confusion

This is your first introduction to the education program and to be honest, I found it very confusing at the start.  I didn’t understand how the projects worked and was often struggling with them.  At the rollout of Pathways, nobody had any experience understanding the flow of Level 1.

There are 4 projects in Level 1,  but one of the projects, Evaluation and Feedback, has several distinct parts to it – 2 speeches PLUS an evaluation.

So you have more work than you’d think.

You start with the Ice Breaker speech project.  In Project 2, you give a different speech from your Ice Braker.  You’ll give it 2 times – the second time, you try to use the points of growth that your evaluator gave you to improve it.  Then you serve as someone else’s evaluator. Finally, you have another speech that requires some research and organization.  We’ll cover each of these projects in future podcasts – so stay tuned!

Where you start in Toastmasters is with the Ice Breaker Speech.

Continue reading “Ice Breaker: Everyone’s Project 1”

Go Big and Inspire Your Audience! Project 10

Toastmasters Project 10 InspiratinThe Inspirational Speech, the last of the speech projects in the Competent Communicator manual, challenges you to pull together everything you’ve learned so far.  Speech organization, presentation skills and the tricks of rhetoric to gain your audience’s attention and confidence all go together into a final speech project.

This speech assignment suggests several techniques to emotionally connect with your audience.  This is not the time to be subtle.  Go big!  Go dramatic!

While you’re expected to inspire your audience, this is also a great speech to try something new.  Did you see someone use a technique you’d like to try?

Speaking Sitting Down?

My first Project 10 speech was my favorite.  While gasoline prices topped $4.00 a gallon, I gave a speech about hypermiling. Using techniques to reduce your gas consumption while driving could hit my audience with information and motivation to change some of their ingrained driving habits.

The single drawback to speaking that day was a severe case of tendonitis in my knees.

I’d never seen anyone give a speech sitting down, but that day, it was my only hope.  Before the meeting, I asked the sergeant at arms to put two chairs in front of the lectern.  I acted as if I were getting into the car with my first sentence, and gave the rest of the speech sitting down.

I expected to be called on it.  But my evaluator thought it was clever to act as if I were driving for the speech.

Truly, from the strangest inspiration come the best ideas.

This speech is about inspiration – so you need to be inspired.

What Do You Love to Do?  Inspire You Audience to Join You

I get a lot of questions about what to do with this speech.  A general misunderstanding of what inspiration is causes a lot of stress for speakers.  Don’t expect to inspire someone to do something they wouldn’t already consider doing.  Inspirational speeches need the audience buy into the topic and idea long before the speaker comes to the stage.  Introducing new ideas are rarely inspirational – those are informative speeches.  If you want to bring new ideas to your audience, please do it!  But you won’t likely reap much success with it.  Any person needs multiple exposures to information before they’re open to change.

With all this in mind, pick a topic that you’re passionate about.  Me?  I’m passionate about Star Trek.   I’ve gone to conventions, I always get to the opening nights of the movies.  Yes, I’m a Trekkie.  It would be very easy for me to want to inspire others to join me in my trek to the final frontier of fandom.

Make it easy on yourself.  Pick a topic that you can speak about almost without preparation.  I could speak about hypermiling because I’d been reading up on it and practicing it for months.  When you’ve got a topic you love, writing the speech and finding the emotional points you want to share is easy. Now you can go big with your speech.

Go Big:  Turn It Up to 11

Are you naturally a very subtle person, who likes things to be calm and serene?  This speech could be that way… but I suggest you turn it up to 11 this time.   Find ways to stretch yourself in this presentation.  Now, my 11 is not your 11.  Don’t judge yourself against someone else.  Look inward and find at least one thing that you can do in this speech that pushes you past your comfort zone.  That’s where you should go with this speech.

After Your Speech – It’s Time for Paperwork

Once your final speech is evaluated and the manual back in your hands, you need to hand the record sheet of your 10 speech projects to the club vice president of education.  Using the Toastmasters International website, the VPE will input your information.  A week or so later (always later if you send it in during June) you’ll get a certificate from Toastmasters and a letter telling you that you can order two free advanced manuals!  Take advantage of this right away – the coupon code expires fairly quickly and will only be offered to you once.

Congratulations!  You now get to put CC after your name!

It sounds like you’re done… but you’re not.  Not at all.  There’s a lot more to Toastmasters than just the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader manuals.  You can go big with Toastmasters.  We’ll talk about those in our next episode:  What’s Next?

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Cool Blast Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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Two Keys to a Successful Persuasion Speech

Persuasion is the art of convincing people to do what you think it best and making them like the idea. How do you do it without sounding like a huckster?

persuasionPersuasion isn’t just about how long or how much you can speak and wear down your listeners to finally give in– it’s about moving your audience to do something.

How does persuasion work?

How do you persuade someone?

We always expect something to come after the word “convince” or “persuade.” We want to convince someone to do something. We want to persuade someone to believe or act in a certain way.

There you have it.  That’s the difference between a public speaker  and a two-year old’s public tantrum.

Rhetoric – the art of persuasion – is undoubtedly as old as speaking. I’m sure that it wasn’t just the ancient Greeks who studied the methods of persuasion, but we tend to use their words in English to describe the ways we approach our audience to convince them – with facts, emotions, and logic.   Watch the Oxyclean commercial and see how it’s done.

How effective are facts alone? Facts are not persuasive by themselves. We lose the power of a fact when it’s not put into context. We have to relate the facts to the overall story.

Story may be the key to producing a persuasive speech.  People don’t remember facts, figures, or statistics.  They will remember a good story.

How to Pick a Topic for Persuasion

Persuasive speeches are hard to write. They take time to craft and practice. For the first time you give this project, I might suggest that you pick a topic that is fairly innocuous – not one that people are going to become offended by. A topic that they’re open to considering allows you to concentrate on the skills you’re working to develop, not so much on the arguments that you’ll have to answer. A humorous topic or something about your community might be a gentle place to start. You don’t have to go full bore and argue about legalizing this or criminalizing that. Go easy on yourself.

Three Rhetorical Techniques for Persuasion

A few rhetorical tricks that can help you be more persuasive.

  1. The classic “rhetorical question” opens a speech in a way that can draw your audience into your speech. When you ask a question that you don’t really expect a response to, you can create a sense of curiosity in your listeners. Don’t you think so?
  2. Another good rhetorical technique is the repeating things three times. Now, this shouldn’t be an exact repeat over and over. It’s more like starting a sentence the same way but changing the end. President Kennedy used the phrase “Let both sides” start three sentences in his inaugural address in 1961. It reinforces a message to the audience.
  3. Learn to use the long pause. If you were writing out your speech, you might put in an ellipsis or start a new paragraph… to show the audience how important what you said was, and the equal importance of what is to follow.  You don’t have to sound… like… William Shatner.  But pauses help you by letting your audience catch up, or take a moment to think about what you’ve just said.

If you want to see an amazing example of a persuasive presentation, take a look at this Youtube video.  This guy has amazing presentation skills!

The Take Away

What are the two keys to a successful persuasive speech?

  1. Make sure your call to action is clear, concise, simple and specific.
  2. Use a personal story that will hook your audience with strong emotions that directly links to the problem you address and the call to action you give.

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Our music is from
Cool Blast Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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Visual Aids: Make Your Speech Visually Stimulating

Engaging the Senses What’s the point of visual aids? I think that it’s about engaging more of your audience’s senses than just hearing you speak.

Engaging the Sensesvisual aids

What’s the point of visual aids?

I think that it’s about engaging more of your audience’s senses than just hearing you speak.  A visual aid adds a layer to your speech that your voice or body can’t add.

It’s not just about handouts or PowerPoint images.  Your goal is to bring your audience to a different place than they were before you began – and sometimes, an image or an object can do it faster and more effectively than words.  Pictures are worth a thousand words?  So then might a good visual aid.

Better than just one sense, try to engage many.  When I had to give a presentation about Toastmasters club officer roles, I stopped by a local bakery and bought my visuals – bread rolls.  The smells captured my audience as much as the sight of blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls.  Yes, I will stoop that low for a good pun.

What’s a Good Visual Aid?

Is anything you bring onto the stage with you a visual aid?  I wouldn’t argue with you if that’s what you said.  I’ve seen a speaker bring a piece of exercise equipment that lets him hang upside down as a prop for his speech.  (Think about what I wrote.  Wouldn’t a picture have done a better job than me explaining it?  I couldn’t find one!)

A good visual is big enough for the audience to see and understand.  That’s pretty much it.  This is why so many people go for the PowerPoint presentations – they can use little objects but make them big enough for the back row to see.

I prefer color to pale or pastel visual aids, but that may just be my inclination to bright colors.  If I needed a ping-pong ball, I wouldn’t go out of my way to find a colored one.

Distracting Visual Aids

A good visual aid is not distracting to the audience when it’s not in use.  Don’t carry it when you’re not using it.  If it’s unstable, like a ball on a table, then figure out a way to prevent it from rolling and upstaging your speech.  There’s an old theater story about an actress who was fighting with her co-star.  She entered the scene with a full glass of wine in her hand, and when she left the stage, she strategically placed the goblet on the edge of a table, where the audience couldn’t miss it.  When would it fall?  No one paid any attention to the actress’s co-star – they all waited for the wine glass to fall.  It never did – she’d prepped with a piece of tape on the table top that would hold the glass in place.  Make sure your visual aid doesn’t upstage you!

Using a box to store your visual aids can be a way to create curiosity in your audience.  Decorate the box in some way to market your message – don’t let any opportunity to influence your audience to get away from you.

Regarding Memorization:

I recommend Andrea Ambam’s excellent, winning speech from the National Speech and Debate Association 2014 competition.  Remember that the NSDA standards are not Toastmasters’ practices, so this speech isn’t in our usual format.  Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful speech!

iTunes linkHow about evaluating us on iTunes?

Our music is from
Cool Blast Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/