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.

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/

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!
iTunes link

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/
 http://media.blubrry.com/onthetablepodcasts/content.blubrry.com/onthetablepodcasts/project_2_final.mp3

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.

 

 

 

We wouldn’t mind if you were to subscribe via iTunes.  If you can’t do that, we’d love a review.Subscribe at iTunes

 

 

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

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/