Dive into Body Language: Project 5

The fifth project in the Competent Communicator Manual focuses on body language.body language

What exactly is body language?  In general, it’s the non-verbal messages from a speaker to the audience, including deliberate gestures and facial movements, and involuntary and spontaneous actions.

Studies have shown that body language has great credibility with the audience than the words of the speaker’s message and sometimes, even more than the speaker’s facial expressions.  That’s why it’s crucial to develop good effective stage presence with you

  • stage space
  • body and hands
  • face

to strengthen the impact of your message with your audience.

Is It a Lectern or a Podium?

Let’s get the terminology silliness out of the way.  You step up onto a podium.  A lectern is where you would place your notes, or worse, lean on during your speech.  Let’s just call it the stage where you’ll give your speech.  This area may be very small – just the space behind the lectern if you’re speaking as a keynote at a formal affair.  In a more informal event, you may have a larger stage where you have more freedom to move.

Using as much of the stage as you can gives you more contact with your audience.  It extends your presence, moves you closer to them to make more intimate eye contact and perhaps physical contact.  When you’re comfortable doing so, move out from behind the lectern.

This will mean leaving notes behind.

Are you ready for that yet? Try it!  You’ll discover that you’re far better than you think you are and that however much you fear going without notes, the freedom from the lectern gives you a new relationship with your audience.

Body Language: Gestures

You’ll see a lot of people start with their hands clasped in front, varying from low to high. Why shouldn’t you do this?

It pulls your shoulders forward and reduces your lung capacity just enough that you can’t take that big first breath. Shoulders back. Chest up and full. You can’t do it well if you’ve got your hands clasped in front of you.

Shoulders back. Chest up and full. You can’t do it well if you’ve got your hands clasped in front of you. The other reason is that position looks worried or anxious. Unless you want to convey that emotion as part of your introduction, you probably want to start out as assured and confident. Hands comfortably hanging at your sides show that.

Politicians use the classic flat palm, extended flat-palmlocked fingers gesture instead of pointing a finger, which could look like they’re accusing someone or calling someone out.  It’s a classic, if boring, gesture.  There are plenty of other gestures out there that a speaker can use.  A good evaluator can help you determine which ones work for you.  You can also watch other speakers and what they use that you might want to put into your speeches in the future.

Body Language:  Facial Features

Smile genuinely.  Don’t fake it.  But you can learn how to smile honestly while you speak.  Best-selling author Andy Andrews has a blog post that explains the technique to learn to smile and speak.  http://www.andyandrews.com/how-to-smile-while-you-talk/ 

Don’t worry about feeling silly while you practice.  Within a short time, you’ll find that you’ll smile and talk naturally.  The contrast of your smile and when you change to a passionate gaze will then be stronger and convey powerfully to your audience the intensity of your feelings about your subject.  Instead of using words, now your face showing your audience your message.

Don’t worry if you’re not over your stage fright yet.  It can take more time and more speeches.  One thing that can help is if you start participating in Table Topics.  Impromptu speaking will be the one application of Toastmasters that you will use every day of your life.  None of us have everything that we say scripted out for us.  The odd meeting in the corridor, in the elevator, in the grocery store – we never know when we’ll have the opportunity of the lifetime on a couch instead of on a stage.  Table Topics prepares us for those unprepared moments.  Have you stepped up as Table Topics Master or Table Topics Leader in your club meeting yet?  If you’re struggling with ideas, there are apps available for you to download to your smartphone to help you.

Apple:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toastmaster-table-topics/id888937799?mt=8
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mcwilliams.TableTopicsApp&hl=en

Many clubs also have decks of cards that have questions you can ask.  Talk to your club’s sergeant at arms to see if your club has them available.

Thanks to our sponsor Toastmasters District 10.

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Find Your Audience: The Sweet Spot

Your Audience Sets the Tone of Your Speech

find your audience's sweet spotIt’s a mistake to think that you alone as the speaker decide what you get to say and how you’re going to say it.  Communication only happens when there are a speaker and an audience.  You have to consider them first, even before your message.  The audience will set the parameters of the words you choose and the techniques you use to convey your message.

The audience is why you’re speaking.  You’re there to serve the audience, not your message.  I think that’s where speakers often go awry in their passion to convert or to persuade.  When we forget that our message is nothing when people aren’t the primary consideration in our presentations.  The best example of this is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most excellent speech known as I Have a Dream, given at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  King’s focus is on humans and serving them with his message.  That’s why this speech is recognized as the best speech of the 20th century in the United States.

Was his speech above the audience?  No.  Was it challenging his audience?  Yes.  That’s the exact spot a speaker needs to aim for when crafting a speech.

Civil discourse is becoming anything but anymore.  Political discussion seems to be following the way of comedians with the increased use of four letter words.

Should we be using these words in our speeches?

It’s a risky gambit.  The key isn’t should or shouldn’t we use these words, but how will our audience respond?  Communication isn’t a one-way flow of words – it requires both a speaker and a listener.  Without an audience, there is no communication.  If the audience shuts down because of our word choices, be it profane, vulgar, or jargon, we stop the flow of communication and end our effectiveness as speakers.

Your Toastmasters Audience

This is the point where we often see new Toastmasters start to struggle.  They can’t think of another speech topic.

The problem isn’t they can’t think of another topic, it’s that they’ve talked themselves out of all of the others they’ve thought of.

We’re here to learn to speak and to listen.  Talk about anything that you’re passionate about and we’ll listen.  Don’t toss your ideas – develop them.  Find a way to present that idea with a good introduction, an informative body and a strong conclusion – and we’ll be delighted to listen.  Passion will make even a topic I’m not interested in more intriguing and compelling.  You may even find a way to make golf interesting to me!  We’ll never know until you try.  Talk to your mentor about your ideas.  They can help you find ways to make your topic work.

Don’t give up now.  It’s all too easy to quit right now.  You’ve barely begun to learn how to improve your speaking.  Are you getting discouraged because you’re very aware of what you’re doing wrong?  Now it’s time to start practicing what to do better.

One of the best ways to improve your speaking is to be a speech evaluator in a club meeting.  Nothing will help you focus better on speaking skills than to have to intently listen to someone else’s speech and give them points of growth.  I’ve discovered that the points of growth I see are most frequently the points of growth that I need to apply to my own speaking.  Funny how that works!  Sign up on your club agenda as a speech evaluator and be sure to give your Competent Leadership manual to someone for them to evaluate you and give you credit for filling the role.

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Organize Your Speech… Backwards?

When you have to write a speech, it pays to organize your writing backwards. Consider your goal first and write the conclusion, then the rest of the speech.

However you felt about your first speech, don’t wait to do your second.

You may feel like you bombed. You may have gone over time, under time, mumbled, wanted to vomit, couldn’t breathe, had the shakes… Stage fright.  But don’t wait.  Do your next speech as soon as you can get on the schedule.  If you wait, you’re more likely to work up a worse case of nerves for the next speech.

How to Organize Your Speechorganize your speech backwards

Start at the end.  What do you want the audience to do?

By starting at the end, you’ll prevent three critical problems:

  1. You’ll keep on track as you’re writing your speech.
  2. You’ll have a strong ending that can motivate your audience to act
  3. You’ll find your introduction practically writes itself.

To organize a speech, determine your topic and what format will inform your audience.  Stories are best chronologically, but material with lots of numbers may be better presented in related groups or categories.  You’ll develop the ability to determine if you’re going to do a comparison or a straight narrative with time and experience.    The key with this speech is less about the material, more about the methods of presenting it.  You don’t have to dive deep into the library or Google for material to organize – the more specific you are, the easier a speech is to write.  Consider your audience’s expertise and organize the material at their level.

Organize Your Speech to Speed Up Your Speech Writing

When you have lots of material to cover, having a plan will make your writing simpler and quicker.  Organize your material in only three categories.  If you have more than three, eliminate the excess.  A five to seven-minute speech doesn’t give you enough time to cover more material effectively.  Be very choosy and deliberate in the decision-making process.  It’s easier to add material if you’re short than it is to edit it out later.  That sounds backward, but it’s often true.  You’ll practice and practice, trying to cut the time down but all you’ll do is end up going too fast.

The Introduction Writes Itself

A well-organized, backward-written speech will probably inspire a good introduction.  You’ll want something that will give the listeners a good idea of your topic and your purpose, but you don’t want to be boring and tell them what you’re going to tell them.  Try for some mystery!  Try to whet their appetite with a good story or question before you begin the body of your speech.

Next episode – exploding snowman!  You don’t want to miss it!  Subscribe to our podcast through your favorite podcast app.  If you’d go to iTunes and give us a review, we’ll be ever so grateful!
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Breaking the Ice: The Ice Breaker Speech

The first speech you’ll give in Toastmasters in the Ice Breaker, a speech about yourself. What do you want us to know about you?

Whose Ice Are We Breaking?how to write an ice breaker speech

The first speech you give is the Ice Breaker, a speech about yourself.

Start in the Middle

What’s your story?  Don’t worry about the introduction or the conclusion until you know what you want to say in your ice breaker.  Once you determine the two or three things you want to focus on, then you can perhaps find a personal story that fits into the speech framework. By using a story, you can then write the end of your speech by wrapping up your story, and then write the beginning of your speech with the opening of the story.

Tell Us a Story in your Ice Breaker

What story do you want to tell us?  Is it a personal history?  Is it your career path?  Is it what brought you to Toastmasters?  We’re good with any of them.  By building and using a story, you can create an effective opening and closing to your speech.

Don’t forget your speech introduction for the meeting toastmaster.

This is a courtesy given to the meeting toastmaster.  The toastmaster is expected to give you an introduction that will prepare the audience for your speech.  You wouldn’t want a humorous introduction for an emotional presentation, would you?  The only way for a toastmaster to know how to introduce you is to have a written intro in hand.

The toastmaster needs to know how to say your name – especially if it’s difficult to say based on the spelling.  (We know who we are – our names are always mangled!)  You should also give the name of the manual and the project number with the project title.  This helps not only your evaluator (who will have your manual for the evaluation) but the rest of the club to know what you’re trying to accomplish.  I have a timing tear off on the bottom of my intro that I give to the timer, especially if the timing isn’t the standard 5-7 minutes.

speech introduction formUse this button to see the PDF versions of my Speech Introduction Forms.

 

 

 

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One More Thing: Check out Toastmasters.org so you can get access to the additional information and materials available on the website.

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Want to Improve Your Public Speaking? Consider Toastmasters.

Human usually learn to talk by the age of 3, so why do we also learn a fear of public speaking? If this describes you, then maybe Toastmasters is for you.

What Is Toastmasters?Toastmasters 101 Podcast Competent Communicator Public Speaking

Toastmasters is an international organization that teaches and supports public speaking and leadership skills.

Why is public speaking important?

At some point, whether it’s nurture or nature, people develop a fear of public speaking.  Why?

Do you want to develop public speaking and leadership skills?

Then what you’re looking for may be Toastmasters.

Toastmasters has developed a method to help you overcome those fears.  Over 90 years, Toastmasters has refined a method that can help you as quickly as you want to go.  You will get a manual called the Competent Communicator with 10 projects in it.  Each of those projects is a speech you will prepare and give at a club meeting, and then you will receive an evaluation of your presentation before the end of the meeting.

Surprisingly, one of the most effective ways to improve your speaking…

Public Speaking Leads to Leadership

Communication skills may be called the foundation of leading. If you want to be a leader, you must develop communication skills.

Since communication and leadership are so intertwined, Toastmasters provides leadership training.

If you’re ready to come and explore your future, you can find a local club by going to Toastmasters.org and clicking on the Find A Club button.  You’ll be welcome to join us.

Thanks for joining us on Toastmasters101.  We’ll be focusing on every project in the Competent Communicator manual in our future podcasts.  Instead of repeating what’s in the manual, we’ll focus on other insights into the projects.  Our next podcast – Breaking the Ice – the first speech!  Talk about myself?  What should I say? We’ll give you a few suggestions how to put that first speech together.

If you like our podcast, would you mind going to iTunes and giving us an evaluation (aka rating)?  We’d appreciate hearing from you as we talk public speaking and leadership.

Our music is from
Cool Blast Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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