The End of Your Speech

What do you do at the end of your speech?

When judging speech contests, it’s a recognized phenomenon that the first and last speakers are the ones that get the most brain space in the judge’s mind.  It’s the same with our speeches.  People remember the opening and the conclusion.  We hope they will remember our call to action.  This is why it is critical to put effort into the end of your speech.

This is my worst skill.  I struggle over conclusions.  Despite my insistence on this podcast to write your ending first, I still fail to nail the landing more than I succeed.

Today on the podcast, we’ll talk about the end of a speech:  how to build to a great conclusion – as soon as you know what that is.

INTRO

Are you looking for a way to change the world?  To make an impact on the people and situations around you?  Then you need public speaking and leadership skills.  That means you need Toastmasters.  Every week, you can spend an hour learning the techniques and finding your voice and have fun while you do it.  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

The End of My Speech:  Crash and Burn?

Last week, I gave a speech from the Visionary Communications path from Level 5:  Develop Your Vision.

The irony dripped from this speech.  The purpose of that project is to develop a vision and long-term goals to achieve a specific change in your life or your business or organization.

I have issues with this idea.  Frankly, I think we spend a lot of time spinning our wheels talking about vision statements and mission statements and goal setting – and wear ourselves out, drowning whatever motivation we had in the swamp of building expectations and plans.  Ok, so that’s my take.  I know that I’m not in agreement with the rest of the world, but hey, I do me.

If you have a problem with a speech project, it’s hard to do it.  And this is why this project sat on my to-do list for so long.  It’s been 5 months since I finished all the other projects for this path.

Irony in My Speech

And frankly, although I say I don’t like visions, missions, and goals, essentially, that was what the whole “create a storytelling path” was.  As I said, lots of irony here.

I created a presentation to go along with my speech – I had the perfect graphics, including pictures of the references I used to put this path together.

But when I started the presentation – all of the graphics disappeared.  They were there before and they’re back – but for the 10 minutes of this presentation, they were not to be seen.  Which means I skipped to slide 4 where my text was visible.

That noise you hear?  That’s me banging my head on my desktop.  I didn’t want to take time to reboot or reload, so I went with it.  I had the notes under the black slides, so I did the best I could to remember what the images were supposed to prompt me to talk about.

Then we got to the end of the speech.  Another blank slide.

The End of My Speech Slide Deck is Blank!

I took a deep breath and completely forgot what it was that I wanted to say as a conclusion to this speech.  I’m sure that it was something witty about the irony of giving a speech about how I fail to appreciate the power of developing visions and missions and goals when that was I had just spent the last year doing.

Instead, I said something else about how we need to take the Toastmasters Pathways projects and make them work for us, regardless of the project’s goals.  I’ve got 3 Distinguished Toastmasters awards, including one in Pathways.  No other path interested me, but storytelling does, so creating a path that meets my needs and challenges me is a lot more important than filling the letter of the law.

Then I remember we have a guest:  Marta.  Marta is brand-new to Toastmasters and is preparing her first ice breaker speech and here I am, telling her to ignore it if it doesn’t work for her.

Oops.

I thought I was droning on and I was a bit worried.  But I wrapped it up, finally, and waited for Mo, my evaluator, to nail me on rambling on my conclusion.

Evaluation at the end of the speech?

Instead, I got compliments on it.

My take-aways from this:

  1. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take away that if I feel like I’m rambling at the end of the speech that I am doing better.
  2. I have learned my lesson that I need to check a third time to be sure my presentation is going to play properly before the meeting starts.
  3. The call to action needs to be specific, personal to the members of the audience (not general) and put some persuasion – logos, pathos, and ethos – into it.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at your conclusions.

Your call to action must be crafted, not thrown on at the end of your speech.

I have said many times that you need to know where you’re going in a speech to make sure you get there.  That’s why you start at the end, and after you write the rest of the speech, you come back and refine it.

Let’s get specific:  use the persuasive techniques at the end of your speech in that call to action to move your audience into action.  Appeal to their character, whether it’s their competitive spirit or their inner call to excellence.  Lay out the rationale for why this action needs to be done and when.  Capture their hearts with emotional benefits of doing what you ask.

It works.  But you work to do it.  I don’t believe this trio comes naturally to most people.  We have to think about it.

Consice or rambling at the end of your speech?

That’s why I felt like I was rambling.  I didn’t have it as concise as I normally do.  I spelled out my call to action in my appeal to my audience’s self-interest.  I downplayed the structure of the path in exchange for their goals and reason for joining Toastmasters.  I said that this method of using the Pathways program will be the best way for them to grow.  I offered to help.

Ethos.  Logos.  Pathos.  Accidentally, I hit all three.

Often, I put those in the middle of my speech, not at the end.

Put the middle in the middle.

In scriptwriting, it’s called laying the track or laying the pipe.  It’s prepping the audience before the ending that what ultimately happens is reasonable, fair, and appeals to us emotionally.  We want the villain to fail, we want the hero to succeed.

You have to know what that ending is first.  By identifying your call to action, your middle is built to support that.

In my speech, I spent some time talking about the way that I changed up the elective in Level 5 for this path to be more about storytelling.  There were several project choices in Level 5, but none that I felt truly fit in with storytelling.

So I merged “Ethical Leadership” and “Moderate a Panel Discussion” into a story slam.  Story slams are contests between storytellers.  Our club had its January open house turned into a story slam.  Each story told by the speaker was about an ethical question they faced in their lives.

The members loved this meeting.  We had a few guests – we need better marketing – but every time it comes up in conversation, the people who attended say how much they enjoyed it.

I could have ended the speech with that.  “We had fun, let’s do it again sometime.”

Nope.  That belongs in the middle of the speech because it lays the pipe for the final conclusion:  change the path to suit your needs.  Call it foreshadowing.  Call it warming up the audience for the big finale.  Call it whatever you want, but put it in the middle.

Sum It Up?

Should the end of your speech just sum it all up?

The school of thought of “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, Tell them what you’re telling them, and tell them what you told them” means that in your conclusion, you’re telling your audience the same thing three times.

Do you like being told the same thing three times?

I don’t love that.

Then there’s the summation.

How is this not repetition?

It’s not a repeat if, at the end of your speech,  you help your audience draw conclusions that lead into the call to action.

For example:

We’ve examined the need for better dandelion breeding and our commitment to developing this undervalued plant as a food source.  You may never have considered what you do to dandelions and how it has an impact on your lawn.  Now is the time to reconsider your use of pesticides as a way to control these valuable plants – not weeds – to improve your gardens.  The next time you look at a dandelion, remember the good that this singular plant has and instead of ripping it out of the ground, give it a little loving pat and an encouraging word.  Let that yellow flower bloom and grow!

End your speech with actions that result from the information you gave in the middle of your speech.

End of Your Speech Podcast Ending?

I’m at the end of my podcast now.  I guess I should say something really insightful and witty, right?

Don’t signal to your audience that you’re about to wrap up.  They’ll figure it out.  That’s why “in conclusion” isn’t worth the breath to say it.  Just get to your final words – which is why although my podcast show notes almost always say “Wrap it up, Kim” I never say that.

When you end your speech with a challenge, with an emotional kick that motivates people to action, you’ve nailed your conclusion.

That doesn’t happen by accident.  I encourage you to write your conclusion first, then the body, and then the intro, but don’t forget to come back around to make sure you’ve got the right conclusion to your speech.  You may need to edit and make changes to bring it home with strength and verve.  It’s worth the effort and time to make your speech as powerful as you need it to be.

 

Wrap it up, Kim

Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10

Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io

When you write your speech, how do you do it?  I’d love to know if you agree with me or if you start at the beginning?  Let me know by going to the Toastmasters 101 podcast Facebook page and answering my poll.  The link is in the show notes, or you can search Facebook for Toastmasters 101 PODCAST.  There’s a Toastmasters District 101 and they have a podcast, too!

We’ll talk again next time on Toastmasters 101.

 

 

 

Toastmasters Debate

Why You Should Look at Toastmasters Debate Clubs

We’ve all been there.  That discussion that you want to have, that we need to have.  Whether it’s politics, society norms, or the intrinsic value of moosetracks ice cream – you want to discuss it.  You want to explore it with friends, family, or the person in front of you at the ice cream stand.  You want a debate – an honest-to-goodness discussion with facts, explanations of why these facts are important and the impact of the topic on the world – ok, your ice cream choice.  You want a debate.

Debate often has a bad smell to it.  In the US, we have these abominations called “presidential debates” which are nothing more than people slinging sound bites at each other for the media.  Then we have the current “social media” debate, which appears to focus on insults and accusations.

Whatever happened to civil discussions?  Have we lost the ability to have them?

Today on Toastmasters 101, we’re going to talk about an increasing need for the ability to communicate with discussions where people don’t agree, and a terrific rise in the Toastmasters grassroots community to discover the power of debate. Continue reading “Toastmasters Debate”

The Most Important Speech You Have to Give

Giving a speech is an art.  That’s my firm belief.  It’s art like singing or dancing – it’s the creation of a moment that has an impact on those who present and those who partake.  When we’re faced with the most important speech we have to give – we need to have that same grace that only comes from lots of preparation and acute understanding of how to build on the basics.

Today on Toastmasters, we’re going to talk about the most important speech you have to give – and what I think it is in the Toastmasters Pathways education program.

INTRO

Do you need to give an important speech?  Whether it’s a keynote, a commemoration, or a quick bridal toast, Toastmasters can help you.  In an hour a week, we can teach you the skills you need to create a memorable presentation to achieve your goals.  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci Continue reading “The Most Important Speech You Have to Give”

Thanks Giving in Toastmasters “Thank You, Toastmasters”

Should you say “thank you, Toastmasters” at the end of your speech?

We are celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States this week.  It’s a time to think about the things we’re grateful for and express our gratitude to those who have blessed us.

I am extremely grateful to many Toastmasters I have met over the years.  My life has been blessed by men and women who have demonstrated public speaking skills and leadership skills.  And frankly, they’ve made my life a lot more fun.  Where else would I have learned about self-priming jiggle pumps?

I should thank my club for teaching me about painting with diamonds or why your arteries are like pumpkin roll pastries – neither of which I knew before tonight.

Yes, an audience should thank the speaker.  But what about the speaker thanking the audience?

It’s a Toastmasters controversy.

INTRO

Do you want to learn to be a great public speaker?  Do you develop your leadership skills?  Then Toastmasters is for you.  We will give you the opportunities to learn and grow in an hour a week!  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Continue reading “Thanks Giving in Toastmasters “Thank You, Toastmasters””

Toastmasters Speech Contest: Are You In?

Sometime in the next few months, your Toastmasters club is going to hold a contest.  For new members, a Toastmasters speech contest sounds maybe a bit… childish?  unnecessarily competitive?  waste of time?

I suspect that you’ve never seen a Toastmasters speech contest.

On today’s podcast, let’s take a look at one of the biggest events in Toastmasters around the world, and the benefits to you and your club when you hold a contest.

INTRO

Do you need to be able to speak to groups of people?  Do you have ideas that can help create a better world, if only you could get them out?  Then Toastmasters is for you.  In an hour a week, we can teach you public speaking and leadership skills and have fun while we do it.  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

Toastmasters Speech Contests

I joined Toastmasters because I was a high school speech and debate judge.  My experience with public speaking was already competitive, so a speech contest in Toastmasters didn’t surprise me.

Whether or not you’re competitive in nature, it’s pretty natural for people to compete against each other.  My kids used to compete over whose side of the car had the better Christmas decorations on the houses that we passed as we drove around town.  Yes, that makes no sense.  Don’t try to figure it out.

Competition is built into us.  There are certainly those who think we ought to outgrow it when we become adults.  We need to be cooperative, not competitive. Continue reading “Toastmasters Speech Contest: Are You In?”

A Professional Presentation at Toastmasters?

I’ve mentioned my friend Terry in previous episodes.  Terry owns a painting company here in Ohio.  Because of his successful business, he was asked to give a 45-minute break-out professional presentation session at an international conference about how he built his business.

If you were in his shoes, what would you have done?

Many people join Toastmasters because their jobs require public speaking and presentation skills.  But most of those professional presentations aren’t limited to 5 to 7 minutes.  How can you use Toastmasters to help you build a longer professional presentation and how can Toastmasters help you practice?

Today on the podcast, let’s chat about your professional presentation.

INTRO

Do you need to develop your professional presentation skills?  Whether it’s a short impromptu answer to a question at a business meeting or a major project presentation, Toastmasters can help you craft the professional presentation you want to give.  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

“My boss told me to join Toastmasters”

We hear this a lot.  I’d bet that at least half of the people who walk through our doors join Toastmasters for professional reasons.  Either they’re going to be speaking as a representative of their company, or speaking to other employees, a lot of people walk into a Toastmasters meeting for their job. Continue reading “A Professional Presentation at Toastmasters?”

Adding Images and Vision to Your Speeches

How do you show your audience what you want them to see?  How do you add images that support the vision of your speech?

The Nature of Communication

Like dance, like acting, public speaking is a movement of ideas from the artist to the audience.

I believe that public speaking is an art.  It comes down to our ability to create a vision in our audience’s mind that inspires them to do something.  That the ART of rhetoric.

Then again, there’s the old saying that a picture says a thousand words. This might imply that you should include images – pictures – with your speeches to make them more effective. Actually, that’s the whole idea behind presentation software.

I’m not going to argue that having images helps explain complex data.  But do you need images for your speech presentation?

Today on the podcast, we’re talking about adding images to your presentation to help you know when and how to use images and when to choose language that creates the images in your audience’s mind that exceeds any image you might show. Continue reading “Adding Images and Vision to Your Speeches”

Your Speech Introduction: Sell Your Speech First

How an introduction visit to a different Toastmasters meeting changed my club meeting participation forever.

Two shocking changes improved our Toastmasters meetings – you can do these too!

Do you get emails with this kind of subject line? Do you see ads with phrases like “You won’t believe what happened next!”

Yep, me too. In fact, that’s part of my paid job – to write sales copy and headlines that will encourage people to click through to look at a product. So I’m very aware of them.

Clickbait or Curiosity?

Some techniques are manipulative, I agree. The best ones aren’t manipulative – they create curiosity in the people who need this product. They scratch that itch, as it were.

What does this have to do with Toastmasters? What if you could write a title and an introduction to your speech that gets your audience excited for what you’re about to tell them?

Today on Toastmasters 101 podcast, I’m going to give you a few hints about how to make your audience respond better to your speech – and it will change your Toastmasters experience forever!

Intro

Do you want to change the world – but don’t have the skills you need? Toastmasters can help you learn how to communicate your message well – and become a leader at the same time.

This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci

Introduction to a New Toastmasters Club

What did I learn when I visited another club for the first time?

When I found out I could visit other clubs, I immediately picked the first Toastmasters club I’d ever heard of – it met in the office building where my mother worked. The club – then it was Firestone Toastmasters – had several advanced Toastmasters. Many of the members had been in Toastmasters for years.

I was made very welcome and discovered that not all Toastmasters meetings are alike. Yes, our structure is essentially the same – prepared speeches, Table Topics, evaluations – but this club had a flair that I genuinely enjoyed. Two people showed me potential that I hadn’t seen at my home club. Continue reading “Your Speech Introduction: Sell Your Speech First”

Table Topics: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

The fear of public speaking is an insidious thing.  It grabs us when we have time to prepare our presentation, and its hold is just as strong when we don’t have time to prepare.  But so much of our communication is impromptu speaking – how do we cope with our fear of public speaking when we don’t have time?  In Toastmasters, we have Table Topics.

Learning to Cope with Table Topics Coping with Unexpected Fear

There’s a lot of people talking these days about politics.  In the US, this is a presidential election year, so we’re used to the upswing.  Add the current social unrest and we’re seeing even more people talking on the media, at public meetings, at events… Sometimes we have time to prepare those remarks, sometimes we don’t.

How do we cope with the paralyzing fear of the unexpected question in front of other people? Today on the podcast, let’s talk about impromptu public speaking and how to do it well.

Intro

Do you have a message you want to tell the world?  Do you need the public speaking skills to do it?  Then Toastmasters can help.  We teach you how to speak – and how to make it effective. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

Continue reading “Table Topics: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking”

2 Keys to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Let’s talk about dealing with your body’s reactions to your fear of public speaking

Our bodies are supposed to do what we want them to do, right?  So why do we get the shakes, feel our knees go weak, or get nauseated as we approach the podium to give a speech?

My friend Joy said she’s not afraid of public speaking, she’s terrified of what her body is going to do to her.

She makes a great point.  What are we afraid of?

Bringing the bad news to a hostile audience

Have you ever had to present bad news to a hostile audience?  I have.

The news I had to deliver was unpleasant, but not unexpected.  I was a member of an organization is a deep crisis – the leadership had been removed and the remaining members were highly polarized and barely speaking to each other.  I had taken on a task and it was time to report on it – and it was bad.  Very bad.

No, this wasn’t last week.  But it might have been because I remember this day and this meeting very well.  My hands were shaking.  I was hot and felt cold sweat all over my body.  I could barely breathe and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to talk to these leaders who were on the other side of the situation than I was.

I was terrified.

Because everything was poised against me.  Now, I don’t want to sound paranoid – but look, everything was going against me.  The people I had to talk to – the topic I had to address was about the future of the organization – or the lack thereof – and the news I had was very bad.

Today on the podcast, let’s finish up our series on overcoming your fear of public speaking with two important keys.

INTRO

How do you give a speech when you’re afraid of public speaking?  If you want to learn or improve your public speaking skills, Toastmasters is here for you to help you develop your skills, your message, and your voice.  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Continue reading “2 Keys to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking”