“A total game-changer” Justin has been a member for just 1 year and says it’s been his best career move yet
“Joining Toastmasters has been a total game-changer for me”
Since joining just one year ago, I have been promoted twice thanks to my new public speaking skills. The funny thing is that while I never lacked confidence to stand up and speak in front of people, it was blatantly obvious that I lacked the skills required to deliver compelling presentations. I didn’t know how to prepare properly, I tripped over my words and forgot key points.
BUT, by going through the exercises and tasks set out in the “Competent Communicator’s” manual, I now prepare thoroughly, keep a cool head, and relate better to my audience. I’ve also learnt to use fundamental techniques such as body language, vocal variety and gestures. My presentation are now engaging and effective, and I am able to communicate better be a more effective in my work and personal life.
I was nervous to join Toastmasters because it looked quite formal, but once I got into the room and started meeting the members at Epsom Speakers, I quickly realised that I was in a friendly and supportive environment where I could improve easily. Certainly the best career move I’ve made!
It takes preparation and practice to create a speech before it is ready to be delivered at a club meeting. First you need a subject that will be suitable for the objectives you have to meet, you need to write it out and then start to prune it back so that it has an opening to entice your audience to listen to you, a logical flow of your subject and a strong ending which the audience can take away with them. Practice, practice, practice to yourself until you are comfortable with what you are going to say and make sure you will be in time. Record yourself and listen for the dreaded filler words such as ‘em’, ‘you know’, ‘actually’ and similar.
When it is your turn to walk towards the rostrum walk tall, take deep breaths, shake hands with the Toastmaster and make sure the stage is how you want it to be. For instance, move the lectern to your side at an angle if you are using notes or move it away if you are not. Give yourself sufficient room to enable you to use gestures and move around.
Start with a strong voice to engage your audience. Be expressive with voice modulation to add light and shade to your words and use gestures to emphasise points. Whether your message is serious or humorous, use facial expressions to create the feeling you want to convey. Don’t be afraid to be expansive in your movements and tone of voice, it all adds to the enjoyment for the audience.
Obtain advice and guidance from your Mentor and take note of the comments given by your evaluator, both oral and written, these will all help you to improve and enable you to give a better performance with each speech. It will also help you in your quest to become good at giving evaluations and also taking part in topics. Watch the video of your speech and relate that to your evaluation and work on the areas of recommendations to enable further improvement.
Remember you are performing in a very supportive atmosphere and all members will be encouraging you to do well and to keep improving, this will then give you the courage to speak outside the club.
What are your next two or three projects? Do you have ideas for these? Write them down before you forget and then start to work on your next project and give yourself time to prepare and practice, you will then be ready and comfortable to give a good performance which fellow club members will enjoy.
From Speakeasy 157 – March 2012
Have you ever wondered why some speakers seem cool, calm and collected when speaking in front of an audience? Does it make you feel you could never aspire to that level of confidence? Not so! Everyone of us who start speaking in any speakers club is nervous, it is part of the learning curve to master those nerves so that the ‘butterflies’ in your stomach are all flying in the same direction.
We all need some adrenalin rush, complacency and over confidence can be the downfall of any speaker. So work with your Mentor, gain evaluation feedback from other members apart from your named evaluator to enable you to find out what you have done well and the areas where you could improve.
From Speakeasy 138 – August 2010
Each speech you give, whether a prepared speech, evaluation, impromptu, topic or general evaluation, is all an occasion for you to use your voice. As a painting has light and shade to give it interest, your voice has loud and soft, to help you to project and give emphasis to every aspect of what you are saying, rather than monotone which can be very dull for the audience.
Remember your audience, they want to listen to what you have to say so make it as interesting as possible, create a mood within your speech, whatever your subject. For instance, if talking about a sport, create the atmosphere of that particular sport demonstrate how the crowd may react to a football goal, a cricket run out, a tennis game, etc. If you speak about one of your particular holidays, bring this alive and use your voice to describe the colour of the sea, the different food, the peaceful surroundings, a crowded bar or any part of the trip that was different.
During an evaluation listen for the vocal variety and give demonstrations how the voice could have been used to improve the effect. Encourage the speaker not to be afraid to use their voice to make the speech much more interesting.
Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself and listen carefully when you play it back to see where you can add impact by speaking in different tones.
Exercise your throat muscles with deep breathing and stretching your mouth to the various vowel sounds.
Now, let us hear a speech with great voice modulation and projection!
From Speakeasy 89 – August 2006
Monday 4th September saw another fun packed and lively evening at Epsom Speakers. It was so good to see so many guests at the meeting and led to an energy filled evening. It is so enlivening to walk into the room at Epsom Speakers club and here the buzz of the crowd assembling before the event. It was also good to see many of the more experienced Toastmasters all looking after the guests. We even had our Area Director mucking in and helping the guests find our Sergeant at Arms.
The evening started well with Paul D setting up the room and then introducing the President, who then went onto speak about the mind and how we must overcome the negativity it can project onto us, and stop us achieving our goals. It is a good way of understanding the mind to think of it as a sixth sense, and something that we shouldn’t over stimulate and keep under control. The mind is a very powerful tool when we use it correctly. I have put a link about it at the end if you are interested.
Costa was the Toastmaster for the evening. Costa showed us how to be a Toastmaster in his usual laid back style. Costa kept the meeting going well with his little anecdotes and phrases in between each segment of the meeting, keeping the flow and energy going and also being respectful of what had just happened in the speeches. Costa also kept the laughter flowing and the energy high. Costa introduced Timur as the warm up artist who asked us to speak about a memorable moment. where everyone was able to participate. A good job by Timur and I believe that was his first time at the role. So well done.
We then had three speeches, which were passionate, informative and funny all at the same time. Katy Minson deservedly won the best speech contest with her emotional speech about her Grand Father, I spoke about the safety committee on Non Ionising radiation not being what it should be, and how this technology is proving to be detrimental to our health, and Patrick went onto speak about numbers. They were all great speeches and touched us, informed us and made us laugh.
We then went onto the evaluations. David Goodman, Gillian Prior and Doris Sew Hoy went onto evaluate the three speeches. They are all experienced evaluators and were a great help to the speakers and hopefully the audience in general on how important evaluations are on all of our learning curves. I do agree with the general evaluator though that there was too much emphasis on content rather than speaking skills. I feel this is something we all should think about. Amanda did talk about this at her evaluation workshop last meeting. Doris went on to win the best evaluation award.
After the break we had David Lane run the topics session. This was a fun packed part of the agenda and it was great to see so many of the guests participating. We had Ian, Robert, Rob, Julia, Chrissy, Drew, Dan and Sanjay all participate in the session. There were many funny monuments during the topics session and the winner was one of our guests Dan, who was very funny indeed. David showed much improvement in the way that he delivered this session, but like Timur on the warm up, he didn’t close the session very well. When you do this, it makes it confusing to the audience what is happening next. We always stress strong openings and endings to our speeches. We should also keep this in mind when doing a particular role.
Amanda went onto evaluate the Topics session and what a wonderful job. Topics is one of the hardest jobs on the Toastmaster agenda and Amanda managed to find a commendation and recommendation for everyone. That is quite an achievement in such a time constraining role. We again can learn much from Amanda’s evaluations.
Charlie W went onto to give us a general evaluation and managed to find recommendations for everyone except Amanda. Charlie showed us how to look at the whole meeting and went on to tell us how much he enjoyed it, and how the meeting could have been better. Charlie is a very experienced Toastmaster and he really shined for us during this general evaluation. One word of advice for Charlie when doing the General evaluation, don’t upset the President as he or she always has the last word, and also gets to write down a further attack after the meeting. Joking aside, Charlie made some excellent points for all of us, by keeping it real, keeping it for the good of the whole and keeping on moving forward. All of this without any notes. Amazing.
So keep on keeping on and keep shining like the stars you are. I still find it a great privilege and honour to be presiding over such a talented bunch of people. I hope you are enjoying the journey as much as I am.
A speech on controlling the mind