Don’t Forget Your Post-Test

Every project has several steps.  You’ll start with a pretest to determine where you stand.

The tests in particular need to be full screen.  So make sure you open the pop-up window all the way – some of the test instructions won’t show up in the small window.

Pathways pretests aren’t programmed the same way as the rest of the site.  In general, you just press the arrow on the right side of the screen to move to the next page.  However, on the tests, you select your answer for each question, but when you get to the last question, you have look at the bottom of the window to see a button that says “submit.” Continue reading “Don’t Forget Your Post-Test”

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”

11 Pathways to Choose

You can find the list of the new Pathways options on the Toastmasters.org website.  They are usually listed in alphabetical order: Continue reading “11 Pathways to Choose”

Pathways Catalog and Reference Guide

Did you take the assessment yet?

For some people, the assessment was simply a confirmation of what they want:  they came in already knowing where they want to go.

But what if the assessment didn’t give you the answer you expected?  If you’re not sure or confused by the recommendations from the Assessment, you may need more information.

Do you know where you want to go?  Just put the destination into your smartphone and let the map program give you directions.

But what if you don’t know where you want to go?  Maps don’t help you.  You need something else… to inspire you, to give you ideas… to help you find out what you need to know.  How about a catalog?

There was a time when everything you needed you could find in the Sears catalog.  Nowadays, that’s probably how we would describe Amazon.  How do you find everything you need about Pathways?  With the Pathways Catalog, of course. Continue reading “Pathways Catalog and Reference Guide”

Don’t Like the Results of Your Assessment?

In the last podcast, I talked about the Pathways assessment.  I mentioned you’re not stuck with their recommendations if you don’t like the results of your assessment.

There are plenty of reasons not to like the choices they offer you.  A 25 question assessment is only so good.  It doesn’t read your mind or know your future.

While I see the assessment produce good results most of the time, there’s no reason that you have to blindly accept them. Continue reading “Don’t Like the Results of Your Assessment?”

Welcome to Toastmasters Pathways

Toastmasters has been around nearly 100 years.  As a leader in the public speaking field, it has taught millions of people around the world.

In the past two years, Toastmasters has rolled out its newest education program PATHWAYS.  Using modern technology and updated techniques, Pathways has expanded Toastmasters beyond the manuals that were developed decades ago.  Incorporating leadership training in almost every program, now Toastmasters will build their leadership and public speaking skills together.

In the past, Toastmasters 101 focused on the Competent Communicator manual.  However, the manual is no longer available for purchase and will be totally phased out by July, 2020.  We have kept up the podcasts that talk about the CC Manual because the content – public speaking skills – hasn’t changed.  It’s just now introduced in new ways in Pathways.

Welcome to the New Toastmasters 101 Podcast.

We will be introducing the newest podcasts featuring Pathways soon. These short podcasts will cover a few details about each of the Pathways and various levels and projects.  Each podcast will be short to focus on only one topic.

  • The Assessment
  • Choosing your Pathway
  • The Ice Breaker Speech
  • Level Projects
  • Leadership Skills Opportunities

We will cover many others with our podcasts.

 

 

 

Finished the Competent Communicator? Toastmasters’ Next Step

After the Competent Communicator manual is done, what’s next in Toastmasters? Why should you stay? Are you done? We’ve got a lot more to offer you.

Toastmasters competent communicatorAfter about a year in Toastmasters as you complete your Competent Communicator manual, you might be wondering what’s next.  Is the CC all that Toastmasters has to offer you?

Moving Too Fast?

You may hear some older Toastmasters say that you shouldn’t go too fast through the Competent Communicator manual.  They have a valid point:  the longer you’re in Toastmasters, the more speeches and more evaluations you’ll see and learn from.   I strongly believe that you learn more about your speaking from the evaluations you give others.

If you rush through the CC, you are depriving yourself of a lot of learning.  But the great value of Toastmasters is that you work at your own speed.  If you can get through the CC in a few months and are comfortable doing so, don’t let me stop you!

I can say that because…

The Competent Communicator Isn’t the End

When you finish the CC, you’re not done with what Toastmasters offers.  We’ve got a lot more for you to learn.

Prepared Material Series

If you joined Toastmasters because your boss told you to, was it because you’re going to be giving presentations of material related to work?  I’d recommend you take a look at the Better Speaker and Successful Club series of speeches.  They are available for free by download on the Toastmasters.org site.

Let me acknowledge that I commonly refer to these speeches as “zombie” speeches.  In the past, TI gave you the slides and a script – thus, a zombie could do these.  They were… terrible.  Horrible.  Important information for speakers or for clubs to be successful, but the format was less than stellar.

In the last few years, I believe that TI learned that these speeches had to be customized for the speaker.  So now they give you an outline of the material (you could probably still find the slides somewhere but DON’T!) and let you create a speech that suits your style and your audience.  Toastmasters even has a standard template for Powerpoint presentations for you to use if you like.  You can check out their branding information here.

I think that these speeches can teach you how to take someone else’s material and make it your own.  In the business world, that skill alone can be vital to your career!

We do have another series,  the Leadership Excellence Series, which focuses more on leadership than communication.  These have more application outside Toastmasters.

Advanced Manuals

Looking to improve your skills in a specific way?  Look at our Advanced Manual series.  We have 15 manuals with 5 projects each that focus on different aspects of public speaking.  Check out this link to a district’s examination of each of the manuals where you’ll find all of them with a list of the projects inside.

You buy the manuals from Toastmasters.org  – but wait until you get the freebie coupon when you get your Competent Communicator Certificate in the mail.  You get two manuals for free!  Take advantage of this!

Consider an Advanced Club.  These clubs have a membership requirement that requires a certain number of speeches be completed before you can join.  The Toastmasters in these clubs are often looking for deeper, more insightful evaluations and longer presentation times.  Since some of the advanced manual speeches are longer than the average 5 to 7 minute projects, these clubs tend to hold longer meetings but only meet monthly.  They are worth your time if you want to move up in Toastmasters.

The Award System

You’ll hear people stick letters after their names… CC, CL, ALB, ACG, DTM.

(Toastmasters is full of acronyms!)

Those letters indicate how far the member has gone through the Education tracks.  We have several award levels split between two tracks: Education and Leadership.  Each award has a set of requirements that you can find on the Toastmasters site.  When you finish your Competent Communicator manual, you can put CC after your name too.  Finish the CL and you add it “CC, CL” and so on all the way up to DTM:  Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest award we give.

Don’t think that it’s a simple or easy process.  A rough estimate shows that the DTM award is granted after some 7 hours of on-stage presentations and at least 1.5 years of officer service to a club and the district.  This is a challenging course and, in my opinion, the equivalent of a masters degree in practical communication.  Like the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout award, very few people do achieve it.  The estimates run between 2% and 6% of members achieve this.

It’s worth it.  (My opinion, but I earned mine.  I’m in northeast Ohio, so, of course, I’ll quote LeBron James here.)

You don’t have to be done with Toastmasters.  We want you to stay.  Your experience will help new Toastmasters and yourself to improve.

Stick around.  There’s more to come.

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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/

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?

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/

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.

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/