You don’t have to do the level projects in Pathways in order. You can choose your sequence based on your interest and preferences. But everyone’s Level 2 includes some required speech projects where the specialization of each pathway begins.
Some of the projects share the same required project. Connect With Your Audience and Active Listening are in 5 of the 11 pathways, so if I were a betting woman, I’d say that about half of the Toastmasters are going to have to do these projects.
Level 2 Required Speech Projects
Active Listening is unique in the speech projects in that – it’s not a speech project. You serve in a club meeting as Table Topics leader and demonstrate your active listening skills.
We’ve talked about Table Topics before, but this project demands that you don’t go easy and default to simple prompts. “What’s your favorite holiday?” might be an adequate prompt, but it doesn’t demand much from you as an active listener. Asking a deep, philosophical question is going to decrease the number of volunteers. This might be time for a Would You Rather..? prompt.
What you need is fun.
So ask your volunteer a fun question, such as
- Which would you rather fight: a zombie or a space alien?
- Who would be the better kisser: Rocky from the Rocky Movies or Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars?
If you want to go philosophical, try these – deep, but still fun.
- Would you rather lose your teeth or your feet?
- Are zoos immoral or necessary to protect species?
I’m always about props during Table Topics. Objects that provoke a sensory response often get the best speeches. Some food samples or scented candles can give your speakers far more effective prompts than just a sentence.
All of the other assignments in Level 2 required speech projects include a 5-7 minute speech. Sometimes it’s on an unfamiliar topic for the club or audience. Some of the speeches require some research. The Managing Time speech project requires you to track the time you spend on preparing a speech on any topic.
I personally didn’t care for this project when I did the Leadership Development pathway. This is the problem with Pathways – you don’t have a clear vision of what’s coming and can’t plan ahead. When I did the time management project – which was why I picked the Leadership Development pathway – I didn’t get anything useful from the instruction. I’ve struggled with time management my entire life and frankly, this didn’t give me anything new that would help. Then I found out that our meeting – the next day – had no speakers. I had 24 hours to put together a speech. Part of the project is to track your time that you spend prepping for this speech.
This was the last project on Level 2 I had left to do, so it wasn’t like I had other options. Tracking that half-hour I spent on prepping that speech wasn’t very helpful – but there wasn’t another speech I could give. It wasn’t my happiest Pathway project.
Effective Body Language
I had a much better experience with the Effective Body Language of the Presentation Mastery pathway. I’m a very dramatic presenter in normal times, so this speech is right up my alley. While I didn’t have the video option, I did practice extensively in front of a full-sized window that gave me a nice reflection. By the way – this project shows up in Level 3 of almost all of the Pathways. It’s a critical presentation skill. If you’re not working on the Presentation Mastery pathway, you’ll still have a chance to do it.
Know Your Sense of Humor
I haven’t seen anyone do the Know Your Sense of Humor project yet – since that pathway Engaging Humor is still pretty new as of today. The project is supposed to be the start of a speaker collecting humorous stories and to present a speech that includes humor. This should be a fun speech project to listen to!
Connect with Your Audience
Like Effective Body Language, Connect with Your Audience is also found in several Level 3 Pathways. This is an ideal project to do outside your club. You need to adjust your presentation to your audience. Your club knows you – and you know them. Doing a speech that you’re comfortable with enough to change on the fly for an audience that isn’t comfortable… That’s pretty challenging. If you want to do this speech in the club, I’ll make this suggestion that comes from a Level 4 speech project Managing a Difficult Audience. Give a few people permission to be a bit hostile to your speech and see if you can win them over. Or deliberately pick a topic that you know your club won’t like. I think this sounds like a challenging project. I’m not sure what I’d do with it.
The last Level 2 project is Cross-Cultural Understanding. Let me just read this:
The purpose of this project is to identify your own cultural identities and the stereotypes that impact other’s perceptions of you.
This sounds pretty introspective – and some subtle political implications. Well… when I think about it, there’s nothing about politics in Toastmasters, but you know who makes a living that requires giving public speeches? Politicians. So maybe this speech has value I hadn’t seen before.
But I will say, I’ve heard one speech from this project: a young woman talked about… being a nerd.
That wasn’t what I expected. I laughed like a hyena – I’m an old nerd. I never thought about being a nerd is a culture – but apparently, it is and I am. Look, Live Long and Prosper is a pretty good philosophy of life, right? – even if it is from Star Trek.
This project also includes a resource called Defining Your Cultural Identity. If you do this project, be sure to keep this to prove to your VP Ed that you’ve completed all the work. Some VPEs want to see all your work. Some will trust that you’ve done the work you needed to. Ask your VPE what they prefer – but remember, club officer elections may change the base camp managers in your club. What this one says may not be what the next one wants.
Find a mentor for your level 2 required speech projects?
I haven’t done all of these projects, but if you want more information about them, I’m sure that you’ll find other Toastmasters who have done them. Ask around in your club and in your district. You can find a mentor for these speech projects if you need one.
We have one more project to review in Level 2 – the Introduction to Toastmasters Mentoring.
"Mariachi Snooze" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Music from https://filmmusic.io: "Come Play with Me" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com) Licence: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)