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14 minutes | a month ago
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. INTRO Do you want to find your voice and change the world? Then Toastmasters is for you. In one hour a week, we can teach you how to develop your public speaking skills and your leadership skills to have an impact on the world. This is Toastmasters 101, and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Debate vs. Discussion Let’s start out by saying: moosetracks is a flavor of ice cream in our area. I have no idea if you’re familiar with it. Locally, it has fudge swirled into vanilla ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate candies mixed in. For me, that’s one too many ingredients. I don’t disapprove of people eating it, I’m just kinda… not sure why people like it. It’s not a very debatable topic. Discuss, yes, and certainly we can agree to disagree. People can disagree. Will disagree. It’s the nature of human nature and free will. People can disagree about almost everything, not just about taste. I may believe a certain policy will achieve a goal. That doesn’t mean I get to assume that the person who disagrees with that policy I prefer is a person who is evil or bad or doesn’t deserve respect. Let’s define our terms. (That’s a debate joke – you’ll get it in a minute) I like the Heritage Dictionary’s definition: Consideration of a subject by a group; an earnest conversation. I think that a discussion allows each participant to free-range around a topic: to look at the topic from several perspectives and to concede the other’s points as we come to an agreement. That doesn’t mean that a discussion is going to end on agreements. I want to make it clear: I don’t see disagreement as a bad thing. I see it as a human thing. It’s how we treat each other in the discussions that can make a disagreement offensive or hurtful. I believe that people of good will can look at a topic and have few or no points of agreement and both be good people who want a good solution for a problem. Debating Holes in the Ground For example, last week my son and daughter-in-law were removing the deck from the back of their home that they just purchased last fall. As we dug out the supporting posts and concrete foundation block, we left 30 big holes in the ground. One person wanted to go get fill dirt right away to protect people from breaking legs or ankles by stepping in them. Another person pointed out that they intend to build a patio and they’ll have to remove significant amounts of dirt, so buying dirt seems unnecessary. I personally liked the idea of throwing buckets over the holes for now – they’ll be very visible. Another suggestion was to put sticks with flags on them to help people know where the dangers lie. Were any of us wrong? No, none of us were. Our discussion ended with a decision that the homeowners were happy with – they dug up dirt from where they’ll be laying the patio and filled the holes the next day. Debate is something different from a discussion. According to the American Heritage Dictionary.com, debate means To engage in argument by discussing opposing points. To engage in a formal discussion or argument. Debate can have a negative connotation to it. I get that, because in a true, formal debate, each side must defend their stand absolutely without any concession to the other side. It can look acrimonious. It can look defensive and ugly. A debate can be vicious and attacking. It can look personal and soul-crushing. It can also be an incredibly valuable tool to help us understand critical issues. We need to take technical look at a debate. First of all, it’s a formal engagement. I don’t think we often have true debates randomly. We may have arguments, but a debate isn’t usually the thing we see on the street. I’ll agree that sometimes, there are spontaneous debates in situations, but the word can be abused. Like presidential debates. Those aren’t debates. Those are posturing for the media events. Debates start by making clear what the topic is – and what it isn’t. That’s why definitions are so important. Making sure that it’s clear what the debate is about establishes the parameters of the debate and keeps it on point. If you’re talking about filing holes, you’re not talking about dinner, or about the nature of the universe. It keeps you focused and on topic. Second, A debate is focused on a resolution. A question. A choice. It’s persuasive speaking, using logic and facts as the primary material. This isn’t to say that emotion and character aren’t parts of the discussion, especially on fraught topics that generate ill-will or fear. The point of focus in a debate is that resolution. There will be two sides. One side is called the affirmative. The other is the negative. Some debates call it pro and con. Potato, potato. But there are two sides. AFF and NEG A discussion can have multiple perspectives presented. In debate, the affirmative always agrees with the resolution. The other side takes an opposing view. For example, the backyard holes. If the resolution is: “The holes in the backyard require Mom to go to the store and buy fill dirt” then that’s what the AFF has to defend – all parts of it, including Mom going to buy dirt. Neg, on the other hand, has the world to draw on to fight against the resolution. Neg can contend that Dad should go. They can contend that nothing should be done. They can contend that filling the holes with pizza is better. That is the key difference between a debate and a discussion. In one, you’re locked into specific roles and you never concede an inch to your opponent. In the other, as a less formal and hopefully good-natured way, you can change your mind. It’s this difference that gives debate a bad name. That… and bad debaters. When we enter a debate, we have to be able to explain why our position is the best one. When a debate doesn’t do that, it can devolve into name-calling, questioning the ethics of another speaker, or cheating. Then debate looks ugly and unproductive. Which is horrible, because, done right, Debates are fun. I have a copy of a handbook about Debate from Toastmasters that I bought years ago. I was working as a debate coach and purchased it thinking I would learn a lot about debate from it. Unfortunately, it didn’t help me very much because it was too general and I was working in a very specific category of high school debate. But I always wanted to see more Toastmasters debate because sometimes, very rarely, I’d see a table topics challenge that was a debate. The very first Toastmasters meeting I attended, the table topics leader pulled out a tomato and challenged the volunteers to debate whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. This is not the type of debate I was used to, but I was up for the challenge. This is the other common type of debate: one thing versus another. For example: cars vs. bikes. Houses vs. apartments. Mountains vs. beaches. Socialism vs. capitalism. Not a very clear resolution, but often it can be structured into one: Tomatoes are a fruit. And that’s where the debate begins. Toastmasters Debate Clubs Maybe 5 years ago, a club in District 10 decided to try debates. I attended and thought it was great. The club… didn’t. The debates took time away from them completing speeches toward their education awards. The debates were scrapped. A couple of years ago, I heard about a club in the middle east that focused on debate. I wanted to attend! Then the pandemic hit and every club moved to online meetings. And I found out that there are Toastmasters who are doing debates. I didn’t know about them because we didn’t have any way to find them and attend. With everything now online, I found out about a start-up club in Texas, USA, that wants to focus on debate. Then they told me about two clubs in New York City that have an annual debate between the clubs. And two more on the western coast of the United States. It looks like debate clubs are springing up all over the place! And I can attend them! Why should you check out a debate club? Right now, it’s hard to have a civil discussion because we’re in a volatile position right now. Communication skills are critical. If you want to change the world, you have to be able to communicate your vision. At its core, that’s what Toastmasters is about. Communication skills. Learning how to debate – essentially, how to defend your point effectively. That people are starting Toastmasters clubs that focus on debate – that’s a clear indication that I’m not the only one who sees that being able to debate effectively and persuasively is important. That we want to have conversations that don’t become shouting matches where there is no communication. Where the end goal isn’t to grind your opponent into the ground, but to understand them and help them understand you. I hear there’s a path being submitted to Toastmasters International focusing on debate. I want it. NOW. The main reason to join a Toastmasters debate club is that you – that we all need to improve our ability to communicate with logic, with emotion, without crushing our opponents with insults and insinuations that they’re bad and evil people. To be able to respectfully discuss and disagree is what everyone needs. That’s why you should check out a Toastmasters debate club. You’ll learn the skills and have fun doing it. Debating isn’t easy. It requires preparation and an understanding of both sides of the topic. That’s the superpower of debate. That’s how good debaters win – they know what the arguments on the other side will be and prepare for them. That’s how to be persuasive – know the opposition’s position. In sales, it’s the ability to show why a reason not to buy isn’t valid before it’s been brought up. Inspirational speeches use ethos, logos, and pathos to create a memorable and effective speech. Debate hones those skills and improves your message. Debates are work, but they yield results. In the meantime, I invite Toastmasters clubs who are doing debates to send me a note so I can add them to the list in my show notes. I’ll add a link to your Toastmasters.org Find a Club page to help others discover how much fun debate can be, and that everyone can learn how to do it! Wrap it up, Kim Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io. You know someone who needs to hear this podcast. How about you tell them about Toastmasters 101 this week? See you next time on Toastmasters 101. The post Toastmasters Debate appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
15 minutes | 2 months ago
Great Toastmasters Speech Evaluations: How to Get and Keep Them
Great Toastmasters Speech Evaluations don’t happen by accident. How do you get them and how do you keep them? Toastmasters speech evaluations are the key tool to improving your public speaking. I just came across a speech evaluation that I have a picture of on my phone. I don’t know why I had it. It didn’t have the evaluator’s name or the speech title on it. No date, no project, no recognizable phone number. Someone had sent a picture of it to me. So… essentially, I had an evaluation that did nothing for me. Are you struggling with the online evaluations process? Let’s put some thought into how we are handling our speech evalutions online – from the speaker side and from the evaluator side. Intro Do you want to improve your public speaking? Are you effective in spreading your message to impact the world? Toastmasters provides you with a fun and safe meeting to give you the opportunity to stretch and develop your public speaking skills online and on site. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Why we need Toastmasters speech evaluations I’m attending an online conference this week about podcasting. This is my fifth year attending. Sadly, we’re not in person this time. Even more sadly, I’m watching these presentations online and I’ve seen a significant number of speakers who need Toastmasters. I want to give them Toastmasters speech evaluations. But – it’s not a Toastmasters meeting. It’s where the rubber hits the road, as we say here in Akron, Ohio. These presentations are what we train for during our Toastmasters meetings. This is why it is critical that we get and give good evaluations at our Toastmasters meeting. Look, if that guy who just gave an insightful, fact-full presentation that I feel was worth my time to listen to – but his slides were abominable – had taken this presentation to a Toastmasters meeting, I believe that someone – either his evaluator, the general evaluator, or just a fellow Toastmaster after the meeting – would have said, “Dude. Can’t read the slides. Don’t read from the slides.” That presenter could have changed just a few things to improve his presentation 100%. Does your club assign evaluators at the meetings? I’d say that 75% of the time (a number I just made up) that our evaluators are appointed approximately 5 minutes before they start. That’s not 5 minutes before the meeting – too often I see the evaluators are the last people in the room and they get asked to step up at the last minute. So, speakers, here are a few things you can do to improve your Toastmasters speech evaluations Recruit your evaluator and get them to sign up in advance. This is one of those chicken/egg situations. I like hard evaluations. I like to hear nitpicky details about my speech presentation. I’m not a glutton for punishment. I want to learn from the evaluator’s perspective of what worked and what does not. I’m not bragging here. I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for over 10 years. I know a lot about speech construction and delivery. Far too often I hear new members say, “You’re so good, I don’t have any suggestions for you.” By asking someone to evaluate you in advance, you have the opportunity to tell them what you’re concerned about in your presentation. This does mean you’re going to have to prepare the speech enough in advance that you know the specific areas that you want comments about. I mentioned on previous podcasts that you should be signing up for many roles in advance, so you should know in plenty of time what your speech project is and what you need the evaluator to watch for. Choosing Your Speech Evaluator When you pick your evaluator, they’re prepared when they arrive to evaluate YOU. Let’s face it, it’s flattering to be asked. You think so highly of their opinion that you’ve requested it. I often look for newbies or guests in a club to evaluate me. That’s because they don’t know me and my quirks. They’ll catch those idiosyncracies a lot faster than people who have heard me give dozen of speeches. Now, I can’t often get a hold of a guest Toastmaster ahead of time, but their new perspective is invaluable to me. The same with newbies. I want the new set of eyes on me, the new set of ears to hear me, and the new perspective they’re going to give me. 2. Send them the evaluation form as early as possible at the beginning of the meeting. When we have access to the agendas on Free Toast Host or Easy Speak, we may also have access to the evaluation form if the speaker has ticked the right box. But if we’re getting the last person to walk into the room to be our evaluator, will they have time to get it, read it, and be prepared to evaluate you by the time you get up to speak? Probably not. This is why I think it’s important that you, as the speaker, have the evaluation form ready to give to your evaluator. Ask them what’s the best way for them to get it – through the Zoom chat? Email? Text? I don’t think that Toastmasters International had pandemics in mind when they created the online evaluation download system we have now, but it has made this situation easier because you can have confidence that your evaluator can get the form. If they can find it. Hey, TI, if you’re listening – is there any way at all I can set my language and then never have to do it again? Because when I see the name of my project and download the French version – again – I get frustrated. Just saying. Finding an evaluation form on the Pathways platform looks easy. You go to the Toastmasters.org website. Then you log in. Then you go to the Pathways menu and select Go to Basecamp so I end up on my page with my current Paths and projects. Then I pick Tutorials and Resources and click on that several times before I realize I have to click on the menu bar the opens below it. Then I select Evaluation Resources, then my language, and then, I try to find my project, which often has another word like Advanced or Building or Connect. When I was a Pathways Guide, I was told to use the search bar, which is why I keep getting the French versions – I don’t see the language in the search bar until after I’ve clicked on it. After all the finding, then there’s the downloading. Look, speaker, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that this process is not yet simple enough and I hope that TI at some point, makes this simpler. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to set a language for your profile, see an alphabetical list of evaluations based on the keyword – like Podcast, not Create a Podcast – and be able to email or text or message it directly to the evaluator? A girl can dream, right? My point is this: your evaluator has to go through all those steps. If I tell my evaluator that I’m doing the podcast project, they’re not looking for Create a Podcast. This is NOT a fast process. And you’re creating a bit of a panic for your evaluator if they have to go look for your evaluation. Even if they have to go to your agenda site and download it – there’s still a log in, there’s still the scrolling and downloading and maybe printing. Save everyone the headache. I’ve created a folder on my computer where all my evaluation forms – clean and unused – are kept. While working on the project, I download the evaluation form. I can open that folder and find the saved evaluation form – which is saved with a name that matters to me, not the code name that TI has given the form, such as 8305E Evaluation Resource FFE. That’s the Inspire Your Audience evaluation form, for those of you scoring at home. Download your form and have it ready to send to your evaluator. Send it in advance, if you know your evaluator. And have it ready at the meeting, because you’re still going to ask them to go find it. Just make it simple for everyone. Speakers, take responsibility to get the form to the evaluator. 3. Print up or have the evaluation form in front of you during the evaluation of your speech. Names, dates, speech title, comments – write them all down. Paper or emails don’t always come back to us, so you need a record for your files. If you get one from the evaluator, then you won’t need this. If you don’t – you will want it. Customizing Your Toastmasters Speech Evalations 4. Tell your evaluator what you want them to watch for. Back in the before times, we used to have paper copies of the evaluation forms at the meetings. I could write on the top: If I say “So” more than 2 times, use this squirt gun and aim for something that will embarrass me. I was expected to provide the evaluation and, if necessary, the squirt gun. No, I never had a squirt gun evaluation. But I know who in my club I’d ask for that from! Tell people what to watch for – but be aware, you’ll be hyper-aware of that foible and you probably won’t do it during the speech. Like filler words, when you’re paying attention, you don’t use them. So is it worth it to tell them what to watch for? Yes. Because if you do it anyway, you’ll learn about where and when and why from the experience, and you’ll improve. Why we only ask for problems in our evaluators instead of what we do right – that’s the question, isn’t it? That’s a key part of the evaluation method. Pointing out what we do well. Let’s talk about the evaluator’s side of this. Be honest with us. You don’t have to be brutal. I try to be specific and once, I was told that I was being a bully, which is never my intent. As speakers, we need to be open to the comments, but as evaluators, we have to temper how we make our comments. Use the evaluation form if you can for the written evaluation. Sometimes the Toastmasters speech evaluations forms aren’t available. There is a generic speech evaluation form, and honestly, it’s probably the most useful evaluation form we have because while it doesn’t cover the specifics of the project speech, it does have all the key components of the evaluation: what did the speaker do well, what can they improve, and how can they challenge themselves. Then page 2, where we give a continuum evaluation on speech skills. If you don’t have anything else, use that. If you can’t get that, then write down those three things and anything else you want the speaker to know about your view of that presentation. There are always things that you can comment about, even if the speaker is soooo good. Talk about what you saw, what you heard, and how your felt. Those three things – you can certainly talk about those 3 things. Your speaker will be delighted to hear them. Date the paper, and put the name of the speech and the speaker on it. That’s the problem with the evaluation I received. I have no clue who or what speech was. 3. Be timely in getting the evaluation to the speaker. I’ve found that I can’t trust Zoom to get me my Toastmasters speech evaluations, even when the evaluator has uploaded them properly. As evaluator, I’m going to make sure that the speaker has gotten the evaluation form, and maybe even email them a copy, just to be sure. When we go back to meeting in hybrid situations, evaluations will become more complicated. Paper or PDF? How are we going to track these? We do have an option to upload images or PDF files to our Toastmasters Pathway profile. I think that might be useful – but what if I get paper? Or, worse, if an evaluation gets lost, what do I do? I’m defaulting to the old, traditional way. I’m making lists of the projects I want to do in a path. Then I have that old-fashioned checkmark system. Finished the project? Check. Got the evaluation? Check. I like the printed version. I can attach it to my checklist and have everything together. I do know that some people have created a folder on their computer with the PDFs saved – name of project, date given or some other way to identify what the evaluation was for. If I were to do that, I’d probably create a different folder for every path. We repeat speech projects in Pathways and I want to be sure that I’ve done all the speeches in the path, not count one speech for multiple paths. Because speeches aren’t required to be done in order, we do need a way to be sure that we’ve gotten the work done. Yes, the path does track that we’ve completed the training and in theory, we’ve given the speech before we complete the final evaluation questionnaire. Theory, not fact, sometimes. However you decide to track your completed projects progress, do make sure that your VPE is giving you the proper credit on the Base Camp site. That has to be done in the proper order, so that Toastmasters will recognize the completion of your path. And who doesn’t want that? Wrap it up, Kim Thanks to District 10 for supporting Toastmasters 101. We’re having our annual conference in April. When’s your conference? Have you signed up to attend or to be a volunteer to make it happen? Our music is from Incompetech.filmmusic.io. We’ll talk again on the next episode of Toastmasters 101. The post Great Toastmasters Speech Evaluations: How to Get and Keep Them appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
16 minutes | 4 months ago
Toastmasters Level 4 Project: Create a Podcast
Does the Level 4 Create a Podcast intimidate you? Did you ever get a two-fer? Like being in college and writing the same paper for 2 classes. Or discovering that you have a vacation day and being given an extension because the office is closed. I hear people say they don’t have any ideas about speech topics. They can’t think of anything to talk about. I think it’s simple: if you’re doing something in your life, you can talk about that. I’ve listened to dozens of professional speeches in Toastmasters and I never mind it. I enjoy learning about other people’s jobs. Surveying streets for new sewer lines? I’ve heard it. How to do renovations – which might have been better called “how not to do renovations” – I loved it. How to open your own business, how to close your business, how to… how to anything fascinates me. Level 4 Create a Podcast Which brings me to today’s podcast: This is a two-fer. I was asked to give a presentation at one of District 10’s officer training sessions and apparently, the Level 4 Create a Podcast Project is on people’s minds. As I was writing that presentation, it occurred to me: this is a two-fer. I haven’t talked about podcasting on the podcast, but as a podcaster, I have experience that I can share. So I can do both with one presentation. I WIN! Today on Toastmasters 101, we talk about the Level 4 Create a Podcast, and a few thoughts I have. INTRO Are you interested in spreading your message to the world? Do you need to develop the skills to do it well and make an impact? Then Toastmasters is for you. In an hour a week, you can learn public speaking and leadership skills together, and have fun while you do it. This is Toastmasters 101, and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Podcasting Equipment Fried You might have noticed that I’ve missed several episodes of the podcast. That’s because on Christmas Day, my power went out 4 times in about 5 minutes, and it fried some equipment that I use in podcasting. School of Podcasting Recommendations A friend of mine, Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting – schoolofpodcasting.com – loaned me some equipment to tide me over when my pusher – I mean the company I buy my equipment from – said the supplier was predicting a ship date to Sweetwater.com was moving further and further out. So let me start this by saying a huge thank you to THE Dave Jackson, who has been my mentor in podcasting since I started and I recommend his podcast to you. Why am I starting the podcast with a thank you? Because Dave helps people understand that podcasting isn’t just about monetiziation. For most of us, podcasting is a hobby. How to Start Your Level 4 Create a Podcast Project That’s why I don’t start with what equipment do you need, what software do you need, what platform should you be on. That’s Step 2, or maybe even Step 7. You must start with your topic, who you want to get your message to – who’s your audience – and how much you are willing to commit to the project. I just went through the Level 4 Create a Podcast training on Pathways. It took me about 15 minutes. Granted, I do know this field, so it didn’t take me long to process the lessons. But there’s a lot NOT said in that training and I want you to be prepared for that. What you need to know Mechanics First, Toastmasters very wisely does not tell you the mechanics of podcasting. This is very smart because the equipment you might use to create a podcast today might not be the equipment you need in the future. It may not even be available anymore! Learning about the current best practices of podcasting and the equipment you need is a key component to having a successful podcasting experience. Which makes Toastmasters smart – it doesn’t have to try to keep up with the field and encourages you to find out what you need outside of Toastmasters. But it doesn’t give you much guidance where to look. Training There are some big names in podcasting who offer courses in how to get started. One of them offers a $2000 start up program and expects you to buy over $1500 in equipment that they recommend. You will see all sorts of recommendations for this class on the Internet… but the last time that coach taught it was 4 years ago. If you take away NOTHING else from this podcast, let it be this: you do not – you should not – spend thousands of dollars on this project. You should expect to spend some money, and I’ll talk about that – but it’s an example of the problem in researching podcasting. There are some big names who were in podcasting years ago, before it got famous, and due to the power of great social marketing, those links are still at the top of the Google search engine rankings. But their classes, videos, or recommendations are years out of date. This is why I recommend Dave Jackson at the School of Podcasting. He has been in the podcasting field for over a decade – practically since podcasting started. He’s taught hundreds, if not thousands of people how to start, build, and grow their podcasts. And he’s still doing it, which is more than many of those older podcast coaches can say. You don’t have to buy Dave’s classes. You can go back and listen to his podcasts for free. You’ll get a lot of great information for free from those episodes. You can search for podcasts specific to your topic or your need and get informed without paying a penny. If you decide you want to join the School of Podcasting, tell him Kim from Toastmasters sent you. Pick Your Topic FIRST The first thing Dave or I will tell you is this: podcast about a topic that you’re passionate about. I don’t want to criticize the TI project training, but they suggest you do a podcast about Toastmasters. I suspect that there’s something else in your life that you’re more passionate about. Something you’re experienced in. Something that you love. That’s what you should podcast about. And I’m not saying that because I don’t want the competition. I want you to have a great experience in podcasting and you’ll have more fun if you’re working on a topic that fascinates you. Because that will come through in your podcast. Your Format Once you decide on your topic, it does tend to help you decide on the format. The TI training does give you three types of potential podcasts. I’d say that’s a pretty small box. There are far more types of podcasts than three categories. The training does tend toward producing what I call the NPR format. Are you familiar with NPR – National Public Radio in the United States – and its sound? I listened to that type of radio for decades. It has had a powerful effect on radio – the power of telling stories, to use audio to engage the listeners’ imaginations, to make the audio experience stick inside our heads, sometimes for years. They call it the driveway moment, that time back in the day when you didn’t have a pause button on the radio, so you stayed in your car till the end of the segment because you could. Not. Leave. The NPR impact on podcasting is wide – and hard to resist. But don’t let it be the wall that stops you from podcasting. This American Life, a former radio program, has a staff of over 10 people working behind the scenes to create an episode. This is going to be you. I’m not asking you to lower your standards: I’m asking you to ignore NPR. You can do it. I know, you want to sound like Serial, or This American Life, or whatever other program you want. But that is the curse – do not try to sound like someone else! Your Voice Here’s another secret: almost everyone hates the sound of their voice in recordings. That’s because you hear your voice differently inside your head – bones, ear canal, jaw – how you hear your voice as you speak is not the same. You’ll get used to how you sound in recordings, but take it from me, unless people hang up on you on the phone because your voice is so horrible – you don’t sound bad. You just sound different from what you expect. That voice – and what you have to share with the world – are uniquely yours. Don’t try to copy NPR, Adam Curry, Joe Rogan, or even me! Your podcast is a product of your work – and let’s emphasize that part: it’s your work. It’s not you. Make the format work for you Pick the format that works for you. The TI training does mention breaking into sections or episodes in order to record the entire hour’s worth of content. That’s one of the beauties of podcasting: you don’t have record everything in one session! Equipment for Level 4 Create a Podcast Microphones Now, you’ve decided your topic, and your format, it’s time to talk equipment. Your format will dictate your equipment. I always recommend a certain microphone, but if you’re doing a storytelling podcast with multiple participants, you’re going to need extra equipment beyond just the mic. I will say: buy a microphone. IN the show notes, I’ve linked to the microphone I use the most: the Samson Q2U. This is not an affiliate link. You’re going to say to me: I have a microphone on my laptop. Why can’t I just use that? Because… and forgive me… It’s a crappy microphone and when it’s time to edit your program, you’re gonna hate your voice even more. Look, you can pound a nail with your shoe. That doesn’t make it a good hammer. Invest the money into the microphone. If you decide you don’t ever want to do it again, find another Toastmaster who wants to do this project and make a deal with them. But buy the mic. This Samson microphone has two options for you: one to plug directly into your computer. The other allows you to go through a sound system that uses XLR cords. If you’re not a musician or recording multiple sound tracks, the XLR isn’t necessary. I plugged my Samson mic directly into the computer and it was fine. Headphones The other piece of equipment you need is a headset. I don’t recommend you get a headset with a mic in it like a gamer headset. I sound like an obscene phone caller, heavy breathing into the phone, when I use my headset mic and record it. But headphones, especially if you’re doing interviews, is critical. You’ll need them when you do your editing, but wear them when you’re recording. It makes a difference. Recording and Editing Software You will also need software for your recording process. Here, I recommend Audacity, which again, the link is in the show notes. It works on both PC and Apple platforms. It’s a free sound recording and editing program. I know professional editors who use it. I’ve tried a couple of other programs and keep coming back to it. It’s simple to use, and easy to edit with. Yes, edit. But I wanna keep it real, Kim! I hear you saying that. 3 Guys One Brain One of the categories that TI didn’t mention is what we in the podcasting world call the “one brain, three guys” podcast. These podcasts are generally done by a group of guys around one microphone and a pitcher of something to drink. They sit around and shoot the breeze about whatever it is they’re talking about: football, or video games, or video games about football. They don’t edit. Don’t be like the one brain, three guys people. Editing is your friend. Editing is the way to lift that speech you gave to become the speech you wish you’d given. IT IS NOT HARD. The Value of Editing That’s not to say that learning the editing software won’t take you time. It will. The general ratio of final production to editing time is 4 to 1. Four minutes of production time to 1 minute of final podcast for the listeners to hear – and that’s with experience. My first podcast back in 2014 took at least 10 hours. It was a 15-minute podcast episode. I hope your production to editing ratio is better than mine. Back then, I didn’t have access to resources on YouTube that we have today. There are probably hundreds of Audacity training videos online now. I will caution you: make sure the video you’re watching matches the version of your editing software. Whether you’re using GarageBand on Apple, or Adobe Audition or Audacity – you need the current videos! Editing does take time. I won’t lie about that. But you will reap incredible returns because this is your chance to evaluate yourself. I have an addiction to the word “amazing.” No evaluator in a meeting is going to pick up on that. But I realized it because I was editing my podcast and heard that word over and over and over. It was amazing how often I used – and misused – that word. Ok, not amazing. But certainly, editing showed me weaknesses in my public speaking. Wrap it up I like this podcast project in Level 4. If I can help you, please reach out to me on the Toastmasters 101 Facebook page, but don’t be surprised if I tell you to go to a School of Podcasting episode to get the best information. I only refer to the best. This was a great two-fer! A podcast and a training session all rolled into one. I should give a speech about the power of two-fers and make it a three-peat! Links to all the materials I recommend are in these show notes. Thanks to District 10 for supporting Toastmasters 101. We’re coming up on our second anniversary in a few weeks. Maybe I should do something to celebrate? I dunno. What do you think? Our music is from Incompetech.filmmusic.io. Thanks to you, my listeners, also. I know it’s been a while since I posted and you’re still here! We’ll talk again on the next episode of Toastmasters 101. The post Toastmasters Level 4 Project: Create a Podcast appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
12 minutes | 5 months ago
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 Your Important Speech I don’t want to say it’s a stereotype. But we’ve learned to recognize that look. It’s a man, at a certain age, who comes to Toastmasters because… his daughter is getting married. He knows he needs to give a toast at the wedding reception and he knows he needs to do it well. It may not be the most important speech of his career, but to him, this is the most important speech of his life. His daughter certainly thinks so. Here’s another – we don’t want to call it a stereotype, but we see this: a young professional who wants to move up in their career. They see the upcoming work presentation as a make or break critical point before their bosses and peers. It may not be the most important speech of their lives, but right now, nothing comes close. Here’s another – a successful mid-life person who has a lot to share but can’t seem to make the words work for them, or they’re afraid of that stage but the need to get their message out into the world is so compelling. The most important speech to them may look like the TED stage, or a keynote to their fellows in their field. What’s your important speech? Because speech is like singing or dance; it’s a performance and you want to do it right. Do it well. Do it perfectly. Perfecting Your Important Speech? If there’s one thing any speaker, Toastmaster or not, can tell you is: There is no perfect speech. Every speech actually has three iterations: The speech you prepared. The speech you gave. The speech you wished you’d given. Regardless of how often you practice, something will happen and you’ll either stumble in some small way – or you’ll be in the middle of the speech and something will click – the audience’s chuckle or nodding agreement and you’ll find that key that you wished you’d thought of three weeks ago when you started writing this presentation. Always happens. Put money on it. When you’re giving a speech, when you want to do it well, you need to prepare. Preparation must include understanding rhetoric, good content, and a clear goal for the speech before you even begin practicing. Speech Preparation: AKA Rhetoric Let’s talk about each of those. I’m sure that all cultures have some great teaching come down through history that explains what we call rhetoric – the art of public speaking. Technically, rhetoric is the art of persuasive speaking. but I’m going to say that pretty much all public speaking is persuasive to some degree. I mean, why are you saying anything if it’s not to convey a message and ask for your listener to agree with you – or at least, respond in some way that develops your message? Rhetoric is the backbone of our communication. There are some ways that these techniques have not changed over thousands of years. Take repetition. I’m not sure why someone landed on three as the best number of times to repeat your message, but I’m sure you know what I mean. Take a look at the historic speeches that we still have recorded and you’ll see that repetition is a key component. From Socrates, to Jesus, to Shakespeare, to Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr – each of their great speeches uses repetition to make their points. Not to hammer down their audiences, but the drill down their message into their listeners’ minds. Humans respond to repetition. Repetition comes in many ways – some of them subtle, some not. Jesus said “Blessed are” nine times in a row. Martin Luther King said “I have a dream” nine times in a row. But there are other ways to repeat yourself, such as President John Kennedy’s inaugural speech And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. from https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=91&page=transcript “Ask” opens his sentences, but see how he flips around what he tells us to do? Working with words – to make them effective and poetic, that capture our listeners’ ears – takes time. It’s not the work of the night before. I was listening to Speak Up Storytelling – a podcast by Matthew Dicks. I’ve mentioned him before on this podcast – he’s an award-winning storyteller whose book, Storyworthy, I’ve recommended on this podcast. He mentioned on a recent podcast that he also is a wedding music DJ – in the US, that’s the person who serves as a type of master of ceremonies and provides music for the party after a wedding. He said he often has to coach the best man through the bridal toast and he has 3 simple suggestions. Tell a story about the groom to make the audience laugh, tell a story about the bride that makes the audience say “aw”, and tell a story about them together. Voila – instant bridal toast. And you know – I think that’s brilliant advice. But it’s actually too late if the advice is being given fifteen minutes before the toast. Content may be king, but preparation is queen. Or emperor. See, there’s not enough time to develop content in 15 minutes. There’s time to recall and tell a story – but will it be a good story? Will it be what you need? Will you accomplish your goal in 15 minutes? For your most important speech, if you really think it’s that critical – you’re not going to spend 15 minutes. You’ll spend 15 hours. You’ll use whatever it takes to craft it so it’s right for your audience. In podcasting, we have a general rule of thumb that every minute of time on the final broadcast has taken 4 to 10 minutes of preparation, editing, and production work. I find that to be accurate. I know that the speeches and podcasts I want to be best are going to take time to prepare and practice. Your Most Important Speech When you’re looking at your most important speech, we talked about preparation – using rhetoric like repetition. We can also talk about the modes that we use – the ethics or character of ourself as a speaker or the character of the audience the logical reasons for our message and how they impact us our emotional engagement – how we feel, how our audience feels and how they will feel in the future. Don’t skip these classics. Even if you have a deep, complicated, data-driven presentation, using each of these appropriately will make your most important speech the best one your audience has heard. This is why I think the most important speech project in Toastmasters is the Persuasive Speaking Project in the Presentation Mastery Path. Persuasive Speaking This speech project only appears once in the Toastmasters Pathways program. Which, if anyone over at Toastmasters International is listening, I think is a mistake. This should be a required speech for every member. It’s certainly one that we need to do again and again – these skills are the key components to successful public speaking content development. We don’t talk enough about content development in Toastmasters. I think, in an effort to avoid offense and in respect to the speaker, presuming that they know what they’re talking about, that we don’t spend time on it after the Level 1 Researching and Presenting Your Topic. The basic research skills create a basic speech. When you want to go deeper, you need more than basics. When you are giving your most important speech, basic shouldn’t be your goal. You need to aim higher. You may be presenting a data-filled speech, but your goal isn’t just to inform – it’s to persuade the audience that you’re credible, that your information is correct, and the emotional story behind these numbers and charts and statistics is valuable. The Persuasive Speaking project training does cover this well. I went back today and reviewed this project we receive and was again full of respect for the information and how it was provided to us in this training. Popular vs Best? I don’t think it’s a secret that Presentation Mastery is the most commonly recommended path to members. Toastmasters International’s CEO Daniel Rex has said so in a speech – at the same time, he acknowledged it’s not the most popular. But this speech project should be available to everyone in Toastmasters. I’m part of a rather vocal group that wants to see some changes in Pathways. I would like some basic speeches to be done once and then never again. This is not one of those speeches. This should be a part of every path. Just my opinion – but when you’re giving your most important speech, you want the training for the most important speech that Toastmasters covers. This is it. If you’ve got an important speech coming up – whatever it is – consider joining Toastmasters. You can find a club at Toastmasters.org. Click on the link to find a club near you, or a club that meets at a time that’s convenient to you. Wrap it up, Kim May I ask you a question? How has Toastmasters changed your life? Would you be willing to share that with me and with others? What has happened to you because you’re a Toastmaster? I can say one thing for sure: I wouldn’t be hosting a podcast! If you’re willing to share your story, would you reach out to me? You can drop me a line on the Facebook Toastmasters 101 podcast page or leave a message here on the Toastmasters101.net slash 84 in the comments. Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io. Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. See you next time on Toastmasters 101 podcast. The post The Most Important Speech You Have to Give appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
9 minutes | 6 months ago
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. Say Thank You, Toastmasters? I was watching a webinar yesterday and the host introduced the speaker who immediately said, “Good afternoon. Like the host said, my name is Dr. X and I would like to tell you why I’m leading this webinar.” Then, her feed froze and we looked at her stationary PowerPoint slide presentation for about 3 minutes till the host came back to the meeting. Then the speaker restarted her speech and ran long, concluding with “thank you.” Evaluation Mode You know what I did. I went into Toastmasters mode. The evaluation mode. Why didn’t the host have a better introduction? Why did the speaker waste our attention on details that the introduction should have covered? What happened to the feed? What could both of them have done better? What challenges do they have? It’s the danger of being in Toastmasters. Most people don’t expect an evaluation of the technical aspects of public speaking. Fortunately, I had to leave before I succumbed to the temptation to make some comments. People do not say thank you Toastmasters when you point out their points of improvement when they don’t ask. Since I wasn’t really getting into the material of the webinar and focusing more on the style of presentation, quite honestly, I wasn’t very grateful to the presenter. When she got to the conclusion and said “thank you,” it caught me up. “You’re not supposed to say thank you. The audience is supposed to thank you.” The Controversy of Thank You, Toastmasters There are some Toastmasters who will always point out when a speaker thanks to the audience. No no no! They need to thank you! I’ve done this sometimes too. When I’ve mentored new members, I explain that ending with a thank you instead of a clear call to action means your audience is off the hook to act. They’ve been thanked – they think they’ve done enough already. And that’s not wrong. But expressing gratitude to your audience can’t be wrong, can it? I don’t think so. So how can we express our gratitude in our speech and still motivate our audience to act? According to a study reported on the website Psyche Central dot com, (link is in the show notes,) the act of saying “thank you” actually does motivate your audience. This is a quote from the report: …The experimenters found that people weren’t providing more help because they felt better or it boosted their self-esteem, but because they appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked. This feeling of social worth helps people get over factors that stop us helping. We are often unsure our help is really wanted and we know that accepting help from others can feel like a failure. The act of saying thank you reassures the helper that their help is valued and motivates them to provide more. Gratitude is a factor in relationships It expresses respect and honor for the other person. It reinforces our commitments and motivates people to be willing to further. I’ve read that some Europeans don’t understand the American inclination to say thank you so often. Here in the US, it’s not uncommon to hear a parent urge a child to say “thank you” as a polite response, and to help the child understand the value of respecting those who do things for us. Especially in certain parts of the US, this training is ingrained in us. In case you think I’m kidding – I’ve been known to say “thank you” to vending machines. But I don’t think that gratitude is only an American thing – that would be a huge mistake. Everyone appreciates being thanked. Which is why I think this idea that we shouldn’t thank the audience, they should be thanking you – should be put aside. We need to consider how we motivate our audience to act – and thanking them has a considerable role in how effective we are. Motivation During Speech Writing I think that question is the key question when you write a speech. What’s your call to action? How can you motivate your audience to do what you’re asking? The obvious answer is to recognize the value of their commitment to the action or cause you’re promoting. If you’ve done a good job in the body of your speech, your audience will be on your side and ready to go. Did you give them a vision of their future and the importance of their act? Your speech style is unique to you – but you can work to improve it to make it more motivation or more inspirational. Perhaps another way might be to have a final word with the Toastmasters as you shake hands or transfer control of the screen to the Toastmaster of the day. “Thank you, Madam Toastmasters and my fellow Toastmasters” can be said with sincerity without beating it over the audience’s head. Sometimes, you do get to be a bit sarcastic in the final thanks. This does work best with humor: “Thank you so much, Mr. Humorist, for putting that Marty Robbins earworm in my mind yet again!” when the joke of the day warrants the response. Gratitude is Important Many years ago, I heard a story about a person who was struggling with depression. It was suggested that this person write thank-you notes to people whom they had never thanked. The personal benefit of writing those notes made a significant difference to the writer – and those receiving those delayed thanks. I’m not saying that writing thank you notes is going to cure depression. But I know that I feel better when I practice gratitude – when I express my thanks verbally or in the written word. When I feel like the work I’m doing is futile, or I’ve lost the vision of what my part in a project is – a note of thanks from the team leader truly motivates me to keep on track. That’s why Thanksgiving is important. That’s why “Thank you, Toastmasters” is important. My Thanks to Toastmasters 101 Listeners Which brings me to this: my last podcast episode was skipped because of the death of my sister. She had had Alzheimers Disease for many years. It was a peaceful and quiet passing. I posted a little note on the Toastmasters 101 Facebook page, and some people reached out with their condolences. I’d like to thank them. And I’d like to thank you, my audience. As I move through this crazy year, I know that I’ve made friends through this podcast. I’m glad that you come back week after week to hear me talk about Toastmasters. I’m grateful to District 10 that they continue to sponsor this podcast. I am especially grateful to the Toastmasters International staff who answer my questions – as crazy as they sometimes are. This week, take a moment to think who you owe some thanks – and do it. And let’s let this prohibition die. I’d be grateful if you did. The post Thanks Giving in Toastmasters “Thank You, Toastmasters” appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
12 minutes | 7 months ago
Reflecting on Your Path: Toastmasters Finale
Let’s take a look at the Toastmasters Path final project: Reflect on Your Path. Reflect on Your Toastmasters Path Have you ever cleaned out a garage or storage shed and had the great sense of completion that one gigantic task is done? It’s so satisfying when you close the door and you know that it’s done… for now but right now… Ahhhhh. This summer, my husband and I have been cleaning out not our own garage, but my parents’ garage. My parents have lived in this home since… since… Ok, 50 years. Over the years, they have accumulated objects that well, have some sentimental value, some tools that have lost their value, and a whole lot of dead leaves and spider webs in the corners. Bit by bit, we’ve tackled this task, and this week, we addressed the back wall – the place where half-full bottles of bug spray and undrinkable soda pop go to die. The wall of unloved tools and broken ladders and that shelf that we’re all afraid to look behind… Ok, maybe I’m getting a bit over-descriptive here. But you know what I’m talking about. That final hurdle of the big task that justifies sitting down with your feet up and something comforting to drink in your hands. We brought home a trunk full of recyclables, a backseat full of donations, and a significant number of things that just don’t have any value to anyone anymore. What was left behind? My childhood sled and a spool of string. What’s this got to do with Toastmasters? When you’re done… are you done? What do you do with what you’ve got when you’re done with a Toastmasters Path? Today on the podcast, we’ll talk about the last project and why it should be last. Do you need to be able to speak to a crowd? Persuade them? Motivate them? Then you need Toastmasters. In an hour a week, we can teach you public speaking and leadership skills and you’ll have fun while you do it. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci The Ups and Downs of the Toastmasters Path Want to feel nostalgic? Pick up your childhood sled and remember how big it was when you and your brother could both sit on it as you head down the hill. Yes, a Flexible Flyer, to those of you old enough to remember – is still in my father’s garage. It’s not entirely abandoned – I know my kids used it on the same hills I rode down. But these days, we don’t have any kids in the family who are going to use it… and maybe I should… When we finish up the big project of Level 5 in any path, we may get that sentimental feeling, looking back at the fun and the work – the sled ride down the hill and the trudge back up to do it all again. Or maybe all you can think about is the time you fell off and ended up at the bottom of the hill before the sled got there. We reflect on our paths – ups, downs, slides down and the trips up the hills. This project stops us for a final project to evaluate ourselves and Toastmasters. An evaluation of your experience helps you can reexamine the frustrations, and revel in the successes. You remember the fun, and maybe accept that the drudgery of some of the projects had some value. You have the opportunity to realize what you’ve learned and how you’re applying it in your life – professional or personal. Sleds, Strings… and Toastmasters? One of the things that I kept in my father’s garage is a bit of string. I’m strangely sentimental of that string – I do not remember not having that string. My father used it to make a handle for us to pull the sled up the hill. It tied tomato plants to stakes and held the car trunk closed before there were bungy cords. It’s always been there in my life. There’s not much left – a few meters, maybe. I remember when that spool was too heavy for me to pick up. So why didn’t I toss it? Because that string runs through my life. The Reflect on Your Path project is the very last one you do in a path. You can’t open it until you finish all the levels. It’s actually a very simple project. Look back, talk about it for 10 to 12 minutes, and you’re done. It should be easy. This is a great time for you to pull together all the skills you’ve been working on. All of the presentation skills. All of the speech organization tips you’ve learned from our training and you’ve learned watching others. Inspiration This speech is the string of your Toastmasters experience – and we are asked to share it with others. In that way, you could look at as an inspirational speech. Sharing your experience to help others get a vision for the potential that Toastmasters has to offer them. This inspiration can apply to yourself, too. What do you want to do next? Is it time to set a new goal for your life? What new opportunities opened up for you because of what you learned from Toastmasters? Inspire Yourself This kind of reflection doesn’t just inspire others – you can inspire yourself. What’s next? What path do you want to pick next? Picking a second pathway seems pretty easy – after all, you’ve done it before, right? It should be easier. When Toastmasters Pathways was first released, there was the assessment. Everyone was required to take it, regardless of what research the Toastmaster had already completed and decision they had made. Toastmasters did make that change – now we can skip the assessment and go directly to the selection page on the website. That’s what I just did. As I’m recording this in October, 2020, the announcement has been made bv Toastmasters International that if you paid your dues that were due on October 1, 2020, or pay them before December 31, 2020, you will get a free Pathway. This offer is only good for Toastmasters who were members before October 1, 2020. New members will only get one path when they join. New Paths to Retain Members Trying to retain members in a pandemic is smart. When so many of us spend the day online in meetings, thinking about another online meeting for Toastmasters can be just one too many. Our mental bandwidth may not be as wide as our Internet bandwidth. I see this in my club. Our attendance is down right now. We struggle to get people online for an hour. What should we do? Like the Reflect on Your Path, I think we need to reflect on our club. What value are we giving to our members? We can say we’re helping them to learn how to handle themselves in an online environment in their professional or career meetings… but it’s been 6 months. I think we probably need to come up with better reasons to come to our online meetings. Here in Ohio, I think we’re going to see most clubs continue to meet online for the remainder of the year and probably well into next year. How do we market an online club? How do we bring people to the table… er… the screen? The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time Speech Last week, one of our members, Joy, was giving a speech about an unexpected social event that she attended. Joy had worked on this speech extensively and had apparently mentioned this to a friend of hers. What was the most obvious thing that Joy could do? She invited her friend to join us for the meeting to watch Joy make us all squirm with a masterful telling of a story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was one of those speeches that I think we needed to unmute our microphones so she could hear our reactions because I was howling in laughter. Joy’s friend came and I think she might come back. It was a great meeting and I think she enjoyed herself. Now, more than ever, we need the personal contacts as we, in the northern hemisphere, move into winter. With the pandemic… there’s so much more fear in being in proximity to each other, but we need the contact so much more. The Challenge So this is my challenge to you this week. Sign up for a speech in your club for the next open slot. Go to the Level 3 speech presentation skills and pick one that is a basic skill, like Connect with Storytelling, Using Descriptive Language, Understanding Vocal Variety or Effective Body Language. You have a story in your life – I know you do – that is so embarrassing, or so silly, or so I-Can’t-Believe-This-Is-Happening – and prepare a speech telling that story. Go for the humor, go for the silly, maybe even go for the gross, out of this world story and tell it to your club. Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of it and give a straight speech. Nope this is the time to step out and get crazy – and then, this is key. Invite someone who you know – who you might never have thought of inviting to a meeting – to come and watch you give this speech. I’m going to get crazy with a speech very soon and I will invite someone to join me for this speech. You do the same thing! Find a story to tell and invite someone to come listen to you present it at the meeting. At the very least, you’re going to make sure that the troublemakers in the club – you know who I’m talking about – the ones who sit next to each other and get silly – the troublemakers will behave themselves. A new face does perk up the club, especially if they participate in Table Topics! Marketing? Or Connections? I don’t believe it’s about marketing right now. Is anyone looking for another hour online? I don’t think so. But we are all looking for connections and that’s what you can give someone. Connections. It’s not silly that I’m still connected to a ball of string and a sled. But really, I’m more connected to the people I associate with those things. That’s why it’s not time for me to give up that sled or that string. It’s not time for us to give up on our connections in and out of Toastmasters. I just thought of who I’m going to invite. Who are you going to invite? What story are you going to tell? You can make the connection and Toastmasters can be the virtual coffeeshop that lets you do it! “Scheming Weasel (faster version)” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ The post Reflecting on Your Path: Toastmasters Finale appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
12 minutes | 7 months ago
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. I don’t disagree with “cooperative.” I think we can do both and have everyone benefit from it. Which is why I think that the Toastmasters contests are so valuable to all members, even those who will never compete. Let’s start with those who don’t want to compete. There are reasons to not compete in a Toastmasters speech contest. Dislike the pressure of producing a “contest speech.” That’s an issue for some people because Toastmasters speech contests are driven by some written rules and unwritten expectations. Toastmasters International provides the official rule book for all contest events. Timing. Originality. Type of speech – prepared, impromptu, evaluation. The stage space. Now, with covid, we have video recordings with strict instructions. Disqualifications. I don’t have a problem with a rules manual. I’m sad that it has to be modified every year because someone finds a way to circumvent the rules – aka cheat. There are clear rules – but there are also some unwritten expectations about speeches – in particular, the World Championship of Public Speaking. I’m very close to opening a can of worms here… The rule book says that any type of speech is acceptable for the international speech contest. However, it’s one of those “everybody knows” rules that only inspirational speeches make it to the top level. While the style of speech for that contest has changed over the years – as it should – it gets a lot of negative comments from people who don’t like the style that it developed into in the past 20 years or so. Non-Toastmasters criticize the content – bland, lacking any substance – and the styles – clownish, or over-acted. I’ve spoken with some people who don’t like Toastmasters because they think that’s what Toastmasters wants its speakers to sound like. Your goal is your voice That’s a big issue, I think. Toastmasters doesn’t explain our goal to help you develop your own voice. The contest – in particular, the international contest – has some problems at the local level, not at the international level, if the districts are only selecting inspirational speeches. On the other side, I talked with a former Toastmaster contest winner at our district level who sat through the speeches and counted laugh lines where the audience responded and was accurately able to predict the winners based on that metric alone. I started doing the same and… yep, that’s the strongest indicator of who will win. The pressure of producing a contest speech – when you talk to people who are serious – I mean SERIOUS – about the contests – they’re constantly working on speeches. They start the week after their last contest ends to craft the next contest speech. That kind of drive is admirable – but it creates a daunting aura in the club. New members will think that they can’t possibly compete against a person who has been publicly talking about their next contest speech for months. I admire several speakers in District 10 who I know take this speech contest very, very seriously – and never talk about it in the club meetings. They downplay it because they don’t want new members to think that they don’t have a chance to win. The benefits of writing a contest speech What I think that the contest speeches provide an opportunity for all the different speech skills we’ve been working on, improving on in our own ways – to be put together into one presentation. Toastmasters’ Pathways program has the Level 3 skills electives. A dozen or so speech projects where we learn and practice discrete presentation skills – eye contact, body language, storytelling. In the contest speech, we are challenged to put all of those skills together. That’s not to say that the challenge isn’t here with every single speech you give in the club – but if the focus is on one specific segment of the speech skills toolbox, then we might forget another part. Work on body language and maybe don’t concentrate on vocal variety? It happens and, in this program, I think it happens a lot. I know that if I’m working on descriptive language, I tend not to notice the bizarre things that I’m doing with my hands. Benefit: Toastmasters speech contest pulls all our skills together The contest judges have a schematic that lists several different aspects of the contestant’s presentation. We’re asked to judge not the content but structure, organization, and value of the speech. We assess the skills – body language, vocal skills, and the proper use of language. The smart competitor pays attention to that schematic because most judges use it – they don’t have to, but most do. I didn’t pay enough attention to it and lost the contest I was entered in earlier this year because I didn’t have a clear opening and conclusion to my speech. I gotta pay attention to all the parts of public speaking and the contest does require me to put them all together. That’s one of the greatest reasons we have contests. So if you don’t want that pressure to write a contest speech, that’s fine. You’re not required to compete. But perhaps… you’d like to participate in another way. Toastmasters isn’t just a speech club. We build leaders and we do that by giving our members opportunities to develop those skills. You don’t learn leadership from a book – you learn by experience. And starting with a small task to learn and practice those skills is ideal. Benefit: leadership skills development Running a contest isn’t hard – but it is a complex task that requires the contest chair to ride herd on a variety of people in different roles who probably don’t have a lot of experience in what they are asked to do – particularly at the club level. Most districts are running judges training at some point, and I suggest you attend, whether you’re going to judge or not – because judge’s training helps people understand how a contest works and why Toastmasters does things the way they do. In previous episodes 29 and 30 – the links are in the show notes – I talk about the roles of contest chair, contest master, and chief judge. Each role has specific tasks to be completed to make the contests official and run effectively. Please don’t think that it’s too hard for you to do. It’s not hard. It’s mostly a matter of communication – the most important component of leadership. I’m too new! If you feel you’re too new and have never seen a contest before – well, they’re only held at the club level once a year generally, unless the club wants to host another one. But most clubs have held contests in the past – those experienced members can help run a contest or you can help them. Club contests are facing extra challenges right now and all hands on deck – or rather – all members need to step up. If you’ve been a club meeting timer, filling this role in a contest is much the same. What’s in it for you if you don’t like contests – either as a competitor or as a member of the contest team? Because you’ll have a better club with a contest. Contests can bring out the worst in people – but they also bring out our drive to improve and succeed. That impulse improves the entire club because we respond to that kind of inspiration. It attracts others with the same drive. I’ve been in clubs that didn’t have that spirit – they closed. Toastmasters speech contest = good club? Is the club contest a sign of a successful club? Hmm. I’m not sure that I’m going to say that because there are clubs where the current membership doesn’t have anyone saying that they want to compete… so they don’t schedule one. That’s a fairly reasonable decision-making process, but one that I think deprives the club of the contest experience. People can be recruited to compete – I’ve done it. People can be found to run contests – I’ve run them for new clubs and I’ve judged in other club’s contests. But I do think that clubs that have contests are often the clubs that support their members in achieving their goals. Remember when I said before that Toastmasters doesn’t do a good job of making sure that you develop your voice? I think that contests do that. If you compete, you develop your own style, your voice, and your message. Those are what I see are the major benefits of a Toastmasters speech contest: the competition challenges us to pull together all our speaking skills to present our best possible speech. It also gives us an opportunity to start building leadership skills in small steps. There are many reasons why people want to compete! Whether you want to compete – and be a speech contestant – or cooperate – and be a speech official – we work together to build each other up. That’s what we do. Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io. Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. Do you know someone who you think needs Toastmasters? What about you? Do you need to improve your public speaking skills or build your leadership experience? How about subscribing to this podcast to hear about how Toastmasters can help you achieve your goals? We’re available on many podcasting platforms so you can listen on the podcast player of your choice. See you next week on Toastmasters 101. The post Toastmasters Speech Contest: Are You In? appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
13 minutes | 7 months ago
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. Then there are people like Terry, who have become successful in their careers and they’re invited to speak because of their expertise. Or there are people like me, who have been asked to make presentations about specific topics that an organization needs to have done. Or, you may be one of those very smart people who realize that their communication skills need to be improved to rise in their careers. But to visitors who have a certain presentation model in mind, what they see us do in the Toastmasters meeting might not look like it’s going to help them. If the boss is expecting a 30-minute presentation with a computer slides presentation and most of our presentations are 5 to 7 minutes, it can be easy to dismiss Toastmasters as a method to help you reach your goals. And what does an ice breaker have to do with my professional presentation anyway? Incremental improvements to improve your professional presentations You learn how to speak to groups like you learn how to play poker. We don’t get a list of rules and immediately become great speakers. I doubt anyone becomes a great poker player right away either just because the game is explained to them. There are techniques that you need to develop that only come with experience. Toastmasters doesn’t assume you don’t have any skills to start with. We start with you where you are. That’s why Toastmasters starts with the ice breaker speech. You need to start where you are with the information you know best – your personal story. We make it short and ask you to start as soon as you’re comfortable – or maybe a little bit sooner. There are some people who come and would never give a speech without a lot of encouragement. Your Voice One of the things that we want to see you develop is your own voice. How you communicate is very personal. Your personality and your style will show almost immediately. What will also show very quickly are the places where improvement can be made quickly. Low hanging fruit, the simple changes that make the biggest impacts. Often these are filler words or bad organization of your material. Fast Fixes We help you see these things and give you the tools to improve – evaluators will point out the fastest fixes because they’re the most obvious, although… they’re not always the easiest. For example, I have a very bad abuse problem. You won’t notice here in the podcast because – being real here – I edit out my filler words. You have no idea how often I say “so” or “okay” or “now” but believe me, my club can tell you, I have a problem. This has gotten so bad that – yes, I said “so” there – that I have my high school students ring bells whenever I misuse those words. Ever give a 13-year-old a bell and tell them to ring it whenever you say the word “so”? There is no off switch on 13-year-olds. They go to town on me and as a result, I’m on track to eliminate that crutch word. Not always easy, but that bell is the fastest way I know to change. Start with Your Story That’s why we start with your ice breaker. It’s the baseline we need to know to help you improve. Once that’s established, you’re going to make some very quick progress based on how often you choose to speak. The Pathways education program has a foundation that helps you improve. Simple skills such as content organization and understanding your communication style to maximize how you can be effective are taught to you quickly. As you understand the Pathway system, you’ll see why we ask you to complete certain projects early. I do understand if you want to hurry up and get to the critical speaking skills that you know you’ll need at work. Computer presentation. Visual aids. Connect with your audience. We’ve got all of that training along with speech projects that you can do as soon as you want, but please realize, we know how people master this skill set. It’s not about speed – it’s about practice. I won’t stop you – in fact, I’ll encourage you to move to the Level 3 speech projects as quickly as you can, even skipping all of Level 2 to get to them. I’ve explained all that in episode 49 – the link is in the show notes – that skipping is permitted in the Pathways program. Professional Presentations Start With You If you feel you need to work on specific skills right away and we have speech projects that have training for you – go directly to them. I’d suggest you talk with your club’s vice president of education or your mentor for assistance if you need to know how to do that on Pathways (it’s easy, really. Moving up a level is as simple as clicking on a different menu on your base camp!) Professional Presentations Start With You. You know what you will be presenting in your professional speeches. Are you giving a heavily data-driven report? Are you persuading a potential customer? Or are you informing your co-workers about the status of a project? We want you to succeed with your presentation which is why we offer you the opportunity to make your presentations in our club meetings. What’s that you say? What about the Pathways projects? What about the 5 to 7 minutes speeches? Speech Projects You can do the vast majority of your speech projects on any topic you want. In fact, we want to hear a wide diversity of topics. I would much rather hear a speech about your work than give another one about mine! Our speech projects aren’t usually about topics – they’re designed to introduce and develop skills. The topics don’t generally matter. So if you have a presentation that you need to give at work, we can probably find a speech project that will help you improve your speaking skills and give you the chance to practice your presentation. Remember Terry, the painter that I mentioned at the beginning of this episode? He had a 45 minute presentation to give. He used a variety of speech projects to practice it at the meetings over months. Speech after speech, he got different evaluators who were looking at different skills and helping him to refine his speech. We didn’t get his entire speech in one meeting. Instead, he broke it down into parts – 5 to 7 minute parts. This helped him focus on his content: I think he was smart: keeping each of his sections to 5 to 7 minutes allowed him to work with what he’d learned in Toastmasters (we do get to know from experience what 5 to 7 minutes feels like. I naturally do this in my lectures in speech classes now!) In 45 minutes, he had a 5-minute intro to his speech, 3 or 4 7-minute sections, and a conclusion that left time for his audience’s questions. Professional Presentation Attention Spans Consider this: how long is the normal attention span of an adult these days – especially when we’re online? You’ve got some researchers saying that it’s less than a goldfish’s – about 8 seconds. In a professional meeting, you will have their attention because they’re required to listen to you. Let’s make them want to listen to you! We don’t have to be boring! Public speaking skills aren’t just about vocal variety and how to move on a stage. It’s about developing your content in a way to have an impact. 5 to 7 Minutes The 5 to 7 minute format is a tool that helps you keep your content focused and your audience interested. That’s not to say that longer presentations are unwelcome at meetings. There are some projects – particularly in Level 5 – that are expected to go longer. Clubs can accommodate a longer presentation with adequate notice. That’s not just signing up on the club website. You need to call the VPE and tell them that you need a longer speech slot that day. Saying that you want a 20-minute speech presentation opportunity and the VPE doesn’t adjust the agenda accordingly may find a meeting with 2 regular speeches and 1 very long presentation and end up with a meeting that goes far too long – not a good idea. Professional presentations are welcome at Toastmasters – just let us know in advance, ok? Yes, I said Ok again. Ding me. Introducing Your Professional Presentation to the Toastmasters Club I want to be sure that you know the importance of the right introduction to the professional presentation at the club meeting. Get your audience in the right mode right away by writing a good introduction for the Toastmaster of the Day to prep the audience before you take the stage. Explain the purpose of this professional presentation and who your audience will be. We’ll pretend to be them! We’re very open to being the audience you will be presenting to. So – dang it! – if you’re visiting Toastmasters because your boss told you to come – please come in and plan to stay. We want to help you succeed in your professional presentation and your career. Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io. Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. How about sharing this podcast with a friend who needs help with their professional presentation? Toastmasters 101 is available on just about every platform I’ve been able to find – I’m waiting to hear about the Amazon podcasting platform, but I’m excited to announce that we are now on the Gaana app! That just happened last week! Your Toastmasters club is probably planning to have a speech contest of some type in the next few months. Please consider competing. Next week, we’ll talk about the value of the contests and why, even if you don’t compete, you’ll benefit from the club having the contest. See you next week on Toastmasters 101. The post A Professional Presentation at Toastmasters? appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
19 minutes | 8 months ago
Area Director Visits
Get ready for your area director visits now. Toastmasters International is a worldwide organization. We are seeing massive growth outside of the United States, where Toastmasters is based. Do you ever wonder how they manage over 300 thousand members and thousands of clubs? Do they know what’s happening in the clubs? How do they know what’s going on in the clubs – and where there are problems, how can they help? In today’s episode, we’re talking about area director visits: what the area director is doing, what the visit looks like to the club, and what they can do for you. Do you want to develop your leadership and public speaking skills? Then Toastmasters is for you. In one hour a week, we’ll teach you the skills and give you the opportunities to practice them. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Toastmasters Area Directors If you’re a member of a Toastmasters club, you might not know how the Toastmasters International organization is run. Toastmasters International is a big organization – 300 thousand plus members to help to achieve their goals means that there must be some levels of management inserted into the program. For an organization that teaches leadership – this gives thousands of people the opportunity to build up their skills in a hands-on way, instead of just reading a book or taking a class. As a club officer or a district officer, you’re going to deal with the problems that leaders face – managing an on-going program that’s just updated its basic product and delivery system, personnel turnover, and confused new members who don’t know what’s going on. That’s in a healthy club. But what if you’re in a club with issues? losing members and not replacing them problems adjusting to new education program lack of training for new club officers And that’s just grouping together a lot of different problems into three descriptions. Toastmasters clubs face many challenges and if you’re new to leadership, you might be struggling with some oppressive problems. Then the district tells you that someone is coming to evaluate your club. Well, that’s unsettling, isn’t it? Area Director Visits Who is an area director and what are they going to do? Good questions. Toastmasters districts have 3 levels – district, division, and area. Each of these levels is an opportunity for a Toastmaster to build leadership skills such as organization and project management. The area director is a member of a club in your district who is tasked with checking in on your club and making a report to Toastmasters International about your status – good or bad. This report has a lot of value for Toastmasters International. This is the data they need to understand what problems clubs are facing and what they’re doing to be successful. That means this area director is required to attend two meetings per year of your club and probably 4 or 5 other clubs. These should be your normal meetings so the area director can see what you’re doing. Presumably, the area director can observe your club and serve as an evaluator, just like a speech evaluator: an outside perspective with some points of growth along with appreciation of what’s been done well. Telling the Area Director Truth Here’s the truth: when I was appointed to be an area director, I’d been a Toastmaster for less than 2 years. I knew that there was an international organization of some kind for about 3 months because I was asked to give a speech when the International Board President was visiting our district and came to our club. That may have been all I knew about Toastmasters outside of my club experience. I hadn’t even visited that many other clubs – maybe 2 or 3. An area director does receive training, but to be honest, I didn’t get much of what I was told. Too much new stuff for me to process before my first major task – organize an area contest! I probably learned more from being an area director from my area’s club officers and my division director than I did through the training. So what’s the value of the area director and their visits? The area director visits and reports collect a lot of data back to the district – And that data can be used to see trends – often news that the district leaders know means potential trouble for a club. If a club that consistently was getting new members and the membership was earning education awards – and that starts to slow down, the district can reach out to the club and offer some help. Alternatively, a club might be doing something really good – and the area director can share that with other clubs. What do area director visits look like? Not to be too generic, but the average area director visit that I made started with a contact with the club president to confirm a good time for me to come by. That’s often important for corporate clubs – I had two and both were government contractors who had strict visitation rules. I had to be cleared to go in. One club had never had an area visit before in their knowledge – because of the company restrictions. So I walked in and – I didn’t have a clue what this club’s purpose or history was. Corporate Club Visit It turns out that this club – at this time – was using the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual to train some sales reps. The company paid for a 6-month membership for their new hires and got them to complete the manual and then sent them out into the world. There’s nothing wrong with this. I personally thought it was a pretty smart act on the part of the company to use a proven training program that didn’t require them to develop materials or metrics. It was just another item on their training checklists. The rub was – the members weren’t finishing their education awards in the 6 month membership period that the company paid for. They were finishing the 10 speeches, but long after their membership expired. Therefore, the club never reported any education awards, which made this club look really bad to Toastmasters International and to the district as well. A few years later, and this club became one of our greatest successes, including completing 8 of the 10 distinguished club goals only 3 months into the Toastmasters year. The Double Meeting Club Then there was this other club – that survived on paper memberships. I think I dropped the average age of the members to below 70 when I walked into the room, but not by much. While the club was reporting the minimum number of members required – they were buying memberships for family members who never attended a meeting. To top it off, the club had some big issues that weren’t really noticed by the district because nobody realized that the club was running two meetings in different locations – one in a member’s business office with local college students, and the other, about 30 miles away, in the location that Toastmasters International had listed on their records. Even with 2 meetings, they still had membership issues? I never quite sorted that out. As area director, I reported it to the district leadership and they… never addressed it. I guessed at the time that there were other issues that were more important than this club. That club’s membership has changed and the leaders now are working hard to turn it around. I also saw 2 clubs in my area chartered, one club close, and tried to keep track of all the tasks I was expected to do – including reporting the data I’d collected to Toastmasters. I didn’t know I was supposed to fill out the forms online. I had them all printed out and filled out – and found out after the deadline that I should have just copied the info into the website form… Live and learn. What’s on those area director visits reports, anyway? In a nutshell – the reports are filled with questions about how the club meetings go: are they following the Toastmasters protocols? do they have officers who are handling the responsibilities of their roles? are the members getting a satisfactory Toastmasters experience? These reports are also useful because they identify potential leaders for future district service. If I recall correctly – and I pray this has been changed – there were about 5 pages of questions the area director was supposed to answer. What was really frustrating at the time was I never found a save button (it may have been there, I just never could see it) so I had to complete the entire report in one sitting. I found a lot of the questions redundant. I tried to take the printout to my meeting and ask the club president the questions, and my ignorance was truly evident then. They didn’t have time for that. Then I tried to call later to get more information – they didn’t have time for that either. Those reports were hard to complete. Second Visits Next Year When I did my second set of visits, I had a stronger idea of what I wanted to know and I got very concise in how I asked questions. That’s because I finally knew enough to understand the background of these questions and what Toastmasters really wanted to know. However much training you get to be an area director, nothing beats boots on the ground – and a much better grounding in how Toastmasters works. What does an area director visit look like to a club? Essentially, an area director club visit looks like a normal meeting. Or – it should look like a normal meeting. The AD can be invited to speak – or not. Club presidents may want to schedule a bit of extra time to talk with the area director to answer questions or to ask their own. I suspect that every district has at least one club that declines all district visits, all the time. I’m not sure what they’re concerned about. I was about to say afraid, but maybe that’s not the right interpretation of their reluctance to have an area director visit. I don’t know why clubs turn down area director visits, but I know of a few. Some corporate clubs are just not going to permit visitors of any kind at any time and for good reasons. But in general, I think that for most new club presidents, it may be seen as intrusive and judgemental, which is sad, because Toastmasters is not about either. I think there are two ways to look at the area director visit: The district don’t have no place sticking their noses in our club or 2. We’ve got nothing to hide. Keep Out I’ve seen that “don’t come in here tellin’ me what to do” mindset of a president. Unfortunately, I was a member of that club at the time and the area director was a friend of mine. This was a club in crisis and I don’t know what he thought – did he expect the district to come in and take over the club from him? What could have been a very helpful meeting with assistance to make the club successful turned out to be a very difficult meeting with a lot of frustration on both sides. Come On In I’ve also seen the doors swing open in welcome to district officers of all ranks. These club presidents were open to new ideas and invited me to speak at the meetings. Guess which club folded? Yep, the first one. That club had a lot of potential, but they didn’t take advantage of what Toastmasters – International organization and district – had to offer to help them overcome some barriers. A good area director visit is like a good speech evaluation. They see what the club is doing well. But they also can see some blind spots that need attention, they can offer assistance from the district or from Toastmasters International or from their own experience. People are often surprised at what’s available from TI. Marketing materials that can help you promote your club and an open house to recruit new members. Free Materials to Toastmasters If you want, you can get some materials from Toastmasters International for free. These marketing materials can help you share about Toastmasters – I take mine to local libraries and leave them there. Well – I did. Now I can download them and share with people in my club guest packets. Toastmasters International also provides some data analysis – information that might help you market your club in social media. Do you know the details of the most common Toastmaster member? You might be surprised. All districts have a sense of the culture of Toastmasters in their communities. My fellow Toastmaster Michele has visited clubs around the world and she says she’s always welcome. But the cultures vary so much, which is to be expected. In some places she’s visited, the members are highly motivated to learn English and this is a place for them to practice their speaking skills. That difference in culture would be hard for Toastmasters International to manage. But by having districts, divisions, and areas, club culture is respected and conformity to a certain pattern or political stand would not be welcome is prevented. So welcome your area director and ask your questions – and answer theirs, please. They probably need the help doing their job right, and they can help your club. Regardless of how much experience they personally have (or in my case, how little) they do have access to resources and expertise to help your club overcome challenges. Ultimately, that’s what the area director’s primary job is to do: to help you make your club successful. Serving as an area director is often the first job a Toastmaster takes on outside of their club – it’s a big step into more leadership than just being a club officer. If you’re interested, you should contact your district leadership. If you don’t know how to reach them, you can find out who your area director is and ask them! Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. When you want to be a leader, you have to have the opportunities to try out those leadership skills. That’s why being a club officer is the start – but there are plenty of other opportunities to step up in leadership in your district. Right now, your district may be starting their planning for upcoming events, such as the winter officer training sessions or next year’s conference. Contact your district leadership now if you’re interested in learning leadership on a bigger scale. The post Area Director Visits appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
19 minutes | 8 months ago
Your Online Meeting Agenda: The Power Tool You Need
What does your online meeting agenda look like to a guest of your club? What? You don’t have one? Can you imagine trying to cut down a tree with a power saw – without starting it up? Absolutely ludicrous idea, isn’t it? The power tool is designed to be used to solve a problem quickly and more easily than it would by hand. Have you ever thought about your agenda as a power tool? That maybe it can do a lot more for you than you expect? Some people think of an agenda just as a check list, nothing more. What value does an agenda bring to a club? How does it improve the club member and the club guest experience? Does it need to change for online meetings? Today on the podcast, let’s chat about your agendas – in person and online meeting agendas. What yours looks like, what you may need to change up, and how to use it out to recruit your club guests to become members. INTRO Are you looking for an effective way to learn public speaking and leadership skills? We’ve got it at Toastmasters. In one hour a week, you can learn what you need to change the world. This is Toastmasters 101 podcast and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. On-site meetings vs. online meeting agendas A few years back, I tried an experiment with my lunchtime Toastmasters club. Instead of printing an agenda, we opted to use the Free Toast Host agenda online, but we copied the information onto a whiteboard in our meeting room. Saving money, saving paper, saving time – we thought. What we found was that we were missing a critical part of our marketing to guests when they walked through our doors. The meeting agenda provides more than just “who’s the Toastmaster and who’s the Table Topics Leader” information to the people in attendance. Personnel at the Meeting It’s a great introduction to the names of the people who are supposed to be in the room. Now, granted, we do see people who sign up – or rather, we don’t see them. Sometimes people miss meetings. Either they forgot that they were signed up for a role, or perhaps, in your club, members are assigned club roles in sequence, and they didn’t go into the agenda to cancel. Or they forgot. It happens. My inner perfectionist has been squashed regarding the agenda. I no longer think of the agenda as written in stone. Some people think of it as a roadmap. I prefer to think of it as a set of written directions. Sometimes the directions aren’t clear, sometimes they tell you to drive down a road that’s closed for construction, and sometimes, they’re just plain wrong. We’re dealing with people and real lives here. That’s why it’s important that we try to keep our commitments to present or be present, but when we can’t attend, it’s a kindness to the club members to make sure your name is removed from the agenda so that a replacement can be found before the meeting begins. Because the agenda helps the guest put names and faces together. In online meetings, we get to have labels – some of us add our meeting roles to our names. An agenda is more like a set of directions. In this case, it’s very much so when you look at the timing aspect of the meeting. When I was in a lunch meeting or an early work-day meeting, we had to keep close track of time because people had reasons to leave. An agenda with times listed – even if they’re suggestions and not hard time limits – helps keep the meeting moving on time. When the club is really jamming with Table Topics, it can be hard for the leader to know when to quit – unless the time is noted on the agenda. Instead of the timer having to be the bad cop and say, “We need to wrap this up,” everyone can see that it’s time to move on. Let me take a quick detour here to say – it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the meeting on time. The agenda is the tool we use. If I want to answer the Table Topics question but we’re almost at that time limit, I will either have to rush my answer or pass. The Value of the Agenda Another valuable aspect of the agenda is to help new members understand how our meetings flow. Guests will not know and probably go with the flow – although, giving them a rundown of what we intend to do and how long we intend to do it is important – I’ll talk more about that in a minute – but new members often are feeling a bit at sea during their first meetings. When does the Word of the Day get announced and when is the joke of the day told? When I’m toastmaster of the day, they get mentioned in the order that I remember, which often is not the order on the agenda. Or the word of the day gets forgotten until the middle of the meeting, which really annoys some of us more competitive types. The agenda is a checklist. It’s a tool that can work for us – especially when we’re online and can miss the subtle signals that experienced Toastmasters might give to the new members. Or when we shout it out at the first time Toastmaster of the day – which I’m guilty of. Sorry, Joy. Onsite meetings – roles and personnel Some clubs – such as TNT in Green in District 10 when they met in person – used nameplates for roles in their meetings. Other clubs have assigned seats for people who have roles. Those are good ideas. Anything that helps a guest or a new member understand the meeting roles and the people who are performing them helps! The printed agenda for an onsite meeting will likely be a print out from Free Toast Host or Easy Speak. I’ve seen so many varieties of printed agendas that I’m guessing that they allow for a variety of styles. Yep, just checked. Several options on Free Toast Host. Included on the agenda will be all the speakers, the times, some other details as you wish, such as pictures of the members if they’ve been uploaded. One thing that I thought was missing on one of the options I saw – the lack of club information. I don’t know that knowing all the officers’ names is as important as the contact information and who to talk to about membership when you’re giving this document to a guest! For the guest – the agenda should be a sales document! Why should they join? What do we offer? Who should they contact about membership? We’re missing our shot at putting critical and persuasive information into our guests’ hands when all we give them is a list of times and names of participants. Agendas can help you with recruiting. Before you say, “Oh, we give all that to them in the guest packet,” let me remind you that good guests are not going to peruse your guest packet during the meeting. Until they have the motivation to open it, it’s useless. But the agenda is going to be on the table right in front of them for an hour! Toastmasters club mission statement Ok, then some of the agendas I’ve seen have the Toastmasters club mission statement printed on it. Isn’t that persuasive enough? No. A thousand times NO. A mission statement is not designed to persuade anyone of anything! According to Wikipedia, A mission statement is a short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is, identifying the goal of its operations: what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market, and its geographical region of operation. Important information, to be sure, but hardly persuasive. When we can ask them what they need, what are their goals, then we can show them the answer to the classic question: What’s in it for me? That’s persuasion. That’s what gets people to come back! If your onsite meeting agenda doesn’t sell your club – change it. The onsite agenda needs to address the guest’s needs in some fashion. At the very least, it’s a takeaway that might grace your guest’s desk or pocket for a while, and when they look at it again, they’ll be reminded about your club meeting and what they got out of it. A tangible reminder and reinforcement of their experience. Ok, so maybe they write their grocery list on it back of it, but hey! They’ve looked at it again! Online Meeting Agenda Is your club struggling with the online format? Are you losing members? Are you finding new members? How are they finding you? One of my clubs is growing outside of city limits. We’ve got members who live in other states. They never would join Toastmasters but because their friends are in this club, they’re joining us. These new Toastmasters started as guests and became members. Did our agenda help? Not really, because we don’t publish it. But I think we should for 3 specific groups of people: the guests, the new members, and the members who are in this meeting. The Online Meeting Online meetings do have some benefits – I mentioned that you can rename yourself with your meeting role – sometimes your name gets lost when you type in “Grammarian/Ah Counter/Word of the Day” – just saying. The online meeting agenda helps put people and their roles together. Not sure who that guest speaker is? There’s a name. Don’t know who the Table Topics Leader is? You’ll see that person right there. And the guest or new member can look at names on an agenda and names onscreen and put them together. But what if you’re meeting online? How do people see the agenda? If you’re using Free Toast Host, only members who are signed in can see any of our club meeting agendas. That excludes all guests and those who can’t log in – and there are enough of them that I think this is a legit issue. One club copies the agenda into the chat. Empty slots are visible and I can scan down the list to see what role I can fill. I signed up to attend a meeting and I was told I would get an agenda in an email. I never did, but I tend to think that was my email’s fault, not the VPE’s. Mass mailings often get kicked into my trash folder before I even see them. Social Media Sharing Should you post your agenda on your club’s Facebook or Instagram page? What about Linked In? How do you handle people who don’t want their names published? When do you publish it? Speaking as a social media marketer, I wonder if posting the online meeting agenda on FB would be of any value. I love the idea of posting images with titles of speeches and maybe (with consent) the pictures of the speakers. Or the theme of the meeting or, if you don’t mind giving away the surprise, the table topics topic. That would be a fantastic vice president of education who managed that! If you’re going to do that – let me suggest that you include the date and start time in large print. And use the UTC code. I’ve noted several announcements of upcoming meetings with themes or topics that interested me – but I had no idea when they were being held. Some of them didn’t even have dates on them – they just say the say of the week. With the weirdness that is Facebook’s algorithm, I may not be seeing it even the same week of the event. Think I’m joking? I went to a funeral that the announcement said “this Saturday.” I was a week late. Don’t assume that your reader is going to get this announcement on time! How do you publish your agenda? I think that maybe the online meeting agenda should be kept a little closer. There are people who would rather not have their names published. There are also those empty slots that might look discouraging to the potential guest. But I do think it must go to the attendees before the meeting. How do we do this? Chat, PDF, Google Doc Some clubs publish the agenda in the chat feature. They’ll have to republish it for late arrivals or as amendments are made. Other clubs share it as a PDF – which is an idea that I like, but again, there’s got to be someone on the ball and complete it on the fly and then post it in the chat or document sharing option of the online platform. Another very timely way is to share the agenda on a public Google document. Changes can be made easily and anyone can see them who has the link. Ok, I’m going to admit, my clubs don’t practice what I’m preaching here. Both clubs try to fill the agendas through our Free Toast Host websites, and then, at the beginning of the meetings, fill in the missing roles. I’m expected to write down the roles as the presidents review the agenda. Not to sound like a discontent, but I don’t like this. I think we miss out on the value of the agenda. The Online Meeting Agenda Creates Expectations I think guests like agendas for a variety of reasons. They can look at it and know this is what to expect. Since we’re not sitting side by side and can’t whisper questions to each other, guests might not get the answers they’re looking for – especially when they’re trying to determine if Toastmasters is for them. Can you imagine a guest coming in and watching 3 new member speeches – and wondering if Toastmasters can help them grow because obviously, these speakers aren’t very good. An agenda can and should indicate what speech project is being presented. If a guest sees 3 Level 1 Ice Breaker speeches, then they know that they’re watching beginners. For the new members, the online agenda helps identify the places they can participate in the meeting and practice those online meeting skills. Of course, this does apply to the on-site meetings, but here it’s critical in a more focused way. In the onsite meeting, a new member can watch a member serve in a role that the newbie hasn’t filled yet – one that’s not obvious. Timer is obvious. Grammarian – not so much. You can’t see someone online taking notes. You can’t look over someone’s shoulder. But you can privately chat with someone who’s filling the role and learn how to do it. We are an organization that promotes mentoring – our new members rightly expect us to fill that role. Agenda Power The agenda isn’t just about the schedule. It’s a tool for success. When you fill in the details of your speech project – including your introduction – you’re helping out the club. The Toastmaster of the Day benefits with an intro, you get a better audience, your audience is ready for your speech. Intros are always win-win-win. Does your club use themes? Are they posted on your agenda? I asked to speak at a different club to get some speeches done before the June 30th deadline this year and walked into a meeting with a theme. Fortunately, the theme was “summer” and my speech was about baseball, so I was good, but that could have gone very wrong. Do you recognize last week’s winning prepared speaker, Table Topics winner, or best evaluator? If your guest won and you mentioned that their name would be on next week’s agenda, might they be more motivated to come back? Build a Great Meeting – next week Whether the club meets in person, online, or a hybrid of both, the agenda can make a meeting – a week in advance. There are some clubs that end their meetings with an open call for people to fill up the roles. Other clubs have a practice of assigning roles in a sequence to give everyone a speaking slot – this is particularly a smart practice in a club where either there are too many or too few open speech project slots. Either way, getting the agenda filled is important to the meetings. Leaving it to the last minute means that the members are filing roles when they’re not prepared. I see this often – I fill in a speaking slot with no preparation, which is good for me to learn impromptu speaking – but it’s not best for the club. We need people to be committed to improvement and that happens only with proper preparation. Here’s how you can help. After the podcast ends, how about you go to your club’s website and sign up for the next seven meetings? Take each of the roles – toastmaster of the day, prepared speaker, Table Topics leader, general evaluator, speaker evaluator, timer, grammarian – and sign up for each. If each member did this, you’ll find you have better meetings. And your club officers will be a lot less stressed. And your guests will see people who are committed to improving their own skills and making the meeting successful. Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. Now’s the time of year that many countries see their students go back to school. This mindset gets into adults’ minds too. You might know a person who is considering joining Toastmasters but just isn’t convinced that it’s worth the money and effort right now. How about you invite him to come to a few more meetings and talk about their goals. Once we know what people are looking for, we may be able to help them discover how Toastmasters can help them, too. Or you could suggest they listen to the Toastmasters 101 podcast. You can find us on the web at Toastmaster 101 dot net, or we can be found on almost all podcast player apps. We’re trying to get on some more international platforms, so let me know if there’s a place where you think we should be found. Talk to you again on Toastmasters 101 podcast. The post Your Online Meeting Agenda: The Power Tool You Need appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
14 minutes | 8 months ago
The General Evaluator Creates Great Meetings
What’s a general evaluator? What do they do? Why should you take on the role? As I was chatting with my protege Joy today about tomorrow’s meeting, she told me that it took her 3 weeks to figure out how to spell our club’s name. Yeah, Cuyahoga is not the easiest word to spell or even guess at the spelling of. Since it’s most prominently known as an environmental disaster site in the 1950s and 60s, I never thought she’d have a hard time with it – but our burning river has apparently lived down its reputation. You see, I have a blind spot. I’ve pretty much lived in this part of Ohio all of my life. I don’t notice that Cuyahoga – spelled C U Y A H O G A – is a complicated word to spell. So Joy, who lives about 800 miles from us, has no idea how to find us online. That’s what a good general evaluator does for the club meetings. They help us look at the blind spots that club might miss. Today on the podcast, we take a look at the master of the Toastmasters secret sauce of success: the role of general evaluator. INTRO Do you want to improve your public speaking skills? Do you want to develop the tools to become a great leader? Then Toastmasters is for you. In one hour, we can help you get started to reach your goals. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci The Challenge of General Evaluator I’m going to guess that I’ve visited about 25 Toastmasters clubs in the United States in person. The role of the general evaluator changes from club to club, but the primary duty does not. The purpose of the general evaluator role is to take an overall look at the meeting – its structure and purpose – and how well this club met that standard. Unfortunately, this aspect of the general evaluator role frequently is overlooked. I think many of my clubs think of the general evaluator as a beginner MC. The person who introduces the evaluators and calls on the timer, ah-counter, grammarian and word of the day reports, and then sits down. So let’s talk it. What should the general evaluator do? In most northeastern Ohio clubs, the role of the general evaluator is like a junior Toastmaster of the Day. After the prepared speakers and Table Topics portions of the meeting, the general evaluator acts like a master of ceremonies, introducing people and leading the applause for a variety of reports. It’s pretty straightforward. Some long-time Toastmasters, when they see a problem in the structure of the meeting – such as starting late, or inappropriate behavior by the audience, might make a comment about how to improve the meeting. Ok, I’m guilty of the inappropriate behavior, but only when I sit next to Mike, who knows exactly what to say to make me crack up. But too often, nothing more than calling for evaluators and reports is all the general evaluator does. The Role of General Evaluator of a Toastmaster Meeting In other clubs – and I’d say that this is a significant minority of the clubs I’ve visited – the role of the general evaluator is reduced. Their only task is an evaluation of the meeting toward the end, usually after the timer or grammarian. Like those roles, there isn’t a specific time limit, per se, but there is a common idea that these comments won’t exceed 2 minutes. How your club uses the role of general evaluator is up to your club. I don’t think there’s one specific way. You can use the role as you wish – but let’s make it count. When I was talking with my protege, she was looking at a description of the role she found through a search engine. She read both the Toastmaster of the Day and the General Evaluator role descriptions and was very puzzled by them because we don’t follow either of the protocols that she read. How does your club use the general evaluator role? How can you make it work? First, I think that a metric or matrix of what the general evaluator should do for your club is extremely valuable, especially to new members. I don’t think the role is intuitive – that a new member can pick up on what to evaluate and what the standard for your club meeting should be. What should the general evaluator look at? In no particular order, I think that the general evaluator ought to note the status of the meeting room. Was it prepared properly for the meeting before you started? You might not think that’s as important with the online meetings, but I think it is. If you have members who want to share their screens, has the zoom host adjusted the meeting session to permit it? While we don’t have a physical copy of the timer’s sheet or grammarians report, the GE might want to make sure that the members who are taking on those roles have the forms or have another way to record their reports. Was it clear how the timer was going to be giving time signals? We’ve seen several techniques used. I’m personally fond of the green dinosaur with the yellow and red nail polish bottles that we’ve seen one of our members use, but I know that Zoom and other programs do have the ability to change backgrounds. Did the Toastmaster of the day or another member explain how to make sure the speaker could see those signals? any timing issues: did the meeting start on time? Did the Toastmaster of the Day TMOD keep the meeting moving at a good pace? Did the TMOD have the necessary information in hand, such as introductions and speech titles, before the meeting started or get it during the meeting without being disruptive? Any flow issues: did the meeting move from section to section smoothly? Prepared speakers to Table Topics to Evaluations? Or Table Topics to prepared speakers to evaluators? Well-run meetings flow smoothly and without disruptions. In some ways, this is less of an issue with online meetings where distractions are quickly muted by the zoom host. But the club president or the sergeant at arms – whoever opens the meeting – can certainly make these transitions easier with a review of the agenda and role assignments at the beginning of the meeting. Speaking of online meetings, the GE can certainly encourage members to change their online screen names to include their assigned role for this meeting in the future. Evaluate the evaluators. In everyone’s level 1 project 2, a Toastmaster is expected to give an evaluation of a prepared speech, and that evaluation is supposed to be evaluated. This should be the task of the general evaluator to fill out that form – so make sure you have it on hand. They are easy to download from the Toastmasters Pathways website. You can just download it once and then keep it on your hard drive to reuse as needed. I finally created a file folder called Toastmasters Evaluations and I’ve saved all my blank evaluation form downloads there on my desktop. I’m not saying that’s the only evaluator that the general evaluator should evaluate. Every evaluator could use a few words of encouragement or even a point of growth. I remember the first time my friend Debbie gave me an evaluation of my evaluation – it was the first time I’d gotten comments to help me improve my evaluations. Address the Table Topics speakers: unless your club has evaluations of the Table Topics speaker, any positive comments are a nice touch. It’s not expected, but I’ve always appreciated it when my Table Topic minute is noted in a nice way. All that in two minutes? You gotta be fast, man! When I serve as general evaluator in person, I keep the agenda close and make notes on it. An agenda is more like written directions than it is a road map. Sometimes speeches go long – or short. Table Topics are too fun to quit or they were skipped altogether to permit a longer speech project to be completed. I don’t want to point out the obvious as a general evaluator. I want to address underlying causes that will improve future meetings! Here’s a less than pleasant example. I once had a club president who was determined to end every meeting with a story. However, this club meeting was early in the morning, and people needed to leave on time to get to work. The president’s storytime consistently extended the meeting a good 10 minutes past our scheduled end time. A general evaluator might note that the club meeting isn’t ending on time and how that hurts some members – and hope that club president got the message. A new club member isn’t going to notice that, but longtime Toastmasters will. We’re aware of the value of the general evaluator in developing leadership skills. Leadership Training The general evaluator is an underappreciated leadership role. Especially in clubs where the role is simply a single report and not serving as an mc for the evaluation portion – there’s not much obvious leadership training going on. I see the GE role as leadership because it’s a chance to closely watch and analyze how the people in the meeting understand and undertake their tasks. It’s not just listening skills that come into play. It’s observation and consideration of how to improve in the future. Great general evaluators create great meetings in the future. This is why the GE role needs more attention. Our general evaluators are our mentors: they see what we can do better, but they’re not going to be like the coach who trains you. Nope, the GE is a mentor and we’d be wise to pay attention to them! Changing your General Evaluator Role? Should your club change the role of general evaluator? That’s not my decision to make. It is one that the club executive committee might consider or present as an alternative to the club for the future. Maybe reducing the role to a single report would suit your club better because you’re under a time constraint and keeping the TMOD for the entire meeting would work for you. Or maybe expanding the role to include introducing evaluators and grammarians and timers might help provide a the newer members a baby step toward leadership. It’s up to your club to decide. Whatever your club does – make the general evaluator role one that improves your club and your members’ experiences. You may find your club has some blind spots that need to be attended to – like making sure your club members know how to find your club’s website because they know how to spell your name! Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. Now’s the time of year that many countries see their students go back to school. This mindset gets into adults’ minds too. You might know a person who is considering joining Toastmasters but just isn’t convinced that it’s worth the money and effort right now. How about you invite him to come to a few more meetings and talk about their goals. Once we know what people are looking for, we may be able to help them discover how Toastmasters can help them, too. Or you could suggest they listen to the Toastmasters 101 podcast. You can find us on the web at Toastmaster 101 dot net, or we can be found on almost all podcast player apps. We’re trying to get on some more international platforms, so let me know if there’s a place where you think we should be found. Talk to you again on Toastmasters 101 podcast. The post The General Evaluator Creates Great Meetings appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
17 minutes | 8 months ago
Come Back to Toastmasters
Peole leave Toastmasters clubs for many reasons. What reasons do we have for them to come back to Toastmasters? In today’s podcast, we have interviewed past District 10 Governor Deonna More Taylor. She’s a 7.5 time DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster Award) with the next one just one project away from completion. Deonna More Taylor, DTM x 7 Deonna Moore Taylor is a bestselling author, award-winning professional and motivational speaker, executive consultant, and certified life, executive and mindfulness coach. Deonna has consulted, delivered training solutions and worked with Fortune 500 companies, colleges, and non-profit organizations. Her professional portfolio includes Cleveland Clinic, Progressive Insurance, Rockwell Automation, CVS Caremark, Smithers Quality Assessments, Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga Community College, Girl Scouts USA, NASA, and Maximus. In 2016, Deonna started Dempsey Consulting Group (Now DMT Consulting and Coaching), and in 2018 organized H.E.R.Lead Network, a non-profit organization. Deonna’s specializations are Information Technology Services and Education, and provides strategic and operational leadership consulting, change management, organizational psychology, branding, and client relationship management. Deonna is also certified to provide coaching and counseling for women and minority start-up businesses. Deonna is a member of several organizations in the community. However, her biggest service history to date was with Toastmasters International, where she is a seven-time minted Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest educational award a Toastmaster can receive. A member since April 2008, Deonna has served in several leadership positions at the club, district and international level. She made history by being elected unopposed to all three top-level leadership positions consecutively and was the second woman of color to be elected District Director in 2012. Her honors in the organization include 2017 District 10 Toastmaster of the Year, 2016 Division Director of the Year, Excellence in Education and Training, and Triple Crown Award for Marketing and Education. Deonna has also received several District Director Awards for her contributions and service. Deonna is an active member in Order of Eastern Star. She is the Worthy Matron of Morning Star #4. She is also an active member of Heroines of Jericho. On January 19, 2020, Deonna became an ordained Reverend and serves in several ministries at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Larry L. Harris, Sr. Deonna is included in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Who’s Who in Black Cleveland Publications. She was inducted into the Kaleidoscope Magazine’s Forty/40 Club in 2014 and has received other notable awards from several local and national organizations. In addition to co-authoring three bestselling books, Deonna is a contributing writer for several magazines, blogs, and online publications. Daughter of Deacon Dempsey (Deceased) and Deaconess Genie Moore, Deonna was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and is a 1996 graduate of Cleveland Heights High School. She attended The University of Akron and Case Western Reserve University – Weatherhead School of Management. She is currently finishing her degree in Healthcare Administration at Ursuline College. Deonna completed her studies in Christian Education and Pastoral Counseling at Moody Bible Institute. A resident of Northeast Ohio, Deonna is married to Lenard Taylor, and they are the parents of two sons, Jacob and Asa. Come Back to Toastmasters Whatever your reasons for leaving, it may be time for you to come back to Toastmasters. Our new education program has new projects for you to customize your Toastmasters learning experience. If you’re like me, you need someplace to practice the skills you need with online platforms. Using presentation software with Zoom isn’t always as simple as it should be. We give you the space to learn! When You Come Back to Toastmasters You’re going to find that things have changed. Deonna and Kim talk about how the pandemic and isolation can cause problems and how Toastmasters can help. If you need help finding a club, try the Toastmasters.org Find a Club page and use the Advanced search options for club times that suit your schedule. With most clubs continuing to meet online for the foreseeable future, you might find there’s a club at the perfect time for you – on the other side of the country. Or you might wish to visit clubs in different nations. You’ll find links to Toastmasters clubs around the world in that directory. Joining Toastmasters and learning about Pathways If you’ve been gone long, Toastmasters may look entirely new to you. Our new education program, Pathways, is based on the latest education technology. If you were used to printed manuals, you’ll find that these new speech paths and projects are a big step into the 21st century. We use videos and new methods to help our members develop the skills they need today, without ignoring the basics. When you come to a meeting, it’s still the same – except perhaps we’re online. Prepared speakers, Table Topics, and evaluations are still a part of every meeting. You’re welcome to join in – those impromptu speaking skills will come back to you! When you rejoin Toastmasters, you will have to pay an additional fee for your Pathway online training materials. Some paths are available in print format at this time in some languages. If you need help making a choice or learning how to use the program, we will be glad to help you make the transition to the new platform. For more information, contact Toastmasters.org. Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. You might know a person who is considering joining Toastmasters but just isn’t convinced that it’s worth the money and effort right now. How about you invite him to come to a few more meetings and talk about their goals. Once we know what people are looking for, we may be able to help them discover how Toastmasters can help them, too. Or you could suggest they listen to the Toastmasters 101 podcast. You can find us on the web at Toastmaster 101 dot net, or we can be found on almost all podcast player apps. We’re trying to get on some more international platforms, so let me know if there’s a place where you think we should be found. Talk to you again on Toastmasters 101 podcast. The post Come Back to Toastmasters appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
16 minutes | 9 months ago
Customize Your Toastmasters Path
How do you customize your Toastmasters experience? “At least, they didn’t have to amputate my foot.” That’s how my conversation with Joy, my Toastmasters protege, started yesterday. “What?” I must have screeched into her ear. “I think it might make a good speech at the Toastmasters meeting,” she continued. Ya think? Joy is a gifted copywriter and marketing specialist. She knows how to put together a story to help a business grow. That line “amputate my foot” is typical of her ability to capture my attention. She was calling me about the confusion she had with the Level 1 Project 2 instructions. Intro Today on the podcast, we’re going to talk about making Toastmasters education program work for your goals. To customize your Toastmasters experience. I want to talk briefly about that Level 1 Project 2 confusion, and how Joy is looking at her next speech project. We’ll put that together with my report on adapting the Visionary Communications Path to storytelling. Do you have goals in your life? Do you want to make changes in your world and have an impact on the world around you? Then Toastmasters is here to help you. We teach leadership and public speaking skills that will be the tools you need to reach your goals. This is Toastmasters 101 podcast, and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Customize Your Toastmasters Experience When Joy called me yesterday, I was making dinner and thought for a second that I should just call her back later, but I picked up the call and I am glad I did. Not just because Joy had a question about the Level 1 Project 2 confusion – although let’s start there. Level 1, Project 2 is still complicated Level 1 Project 2 is complicated. For new members, this is a difficult set of speech projects to understand. I’ve covered this before in a previous podcast – episode 7 – last year. While nothing’s changed – nothing’s changed. It’s still – to me – overly complicated. Joy’s confusion is justified. I don’t think this project description is well written, so let me go over it. For this project, you’re going to give a brand new speech. Not your icebreaker – that was the previous speech. Nope, this speech is about another topic of your choice. 5 to 7 minutes. I do recommend you talk about something you like, because after you give this speech the first time, you’re going to get an evaluation with points of growth. Then, you’re going to rework this speech, changing it up based on the evaluation you received, and give the speech a second time. So there are 2 speeches assigned to this project. Then you need to evaluate another speaker in your club. That’s the whole project: 2 speeches, one received evaluation, one given evaluation. As I say, complicated. Joy’s confusion is like everyone else’s: they think the first speech they gave – the ice breaker – is the speech they’re supposed to repeat. I thought that back when I started on Pathways. Joy’s story isn’t mine to tell, but she’s got a whopper to share at our club meeting for her next speech. But don’t you want to know why she thought the doctor might say they have to cut off one of her feet? I do! Customize Your Toastmasters Pathway – Storytelling Joy’s natural default is to craft words to entice her reader to want to know more. Her gifts with language are outstanding. But she joined Toastmasters because she knows that her presentation skills need work. Everyone joins Toastmasters for self-improvement. I’ve been a member officially for 1o years now and I’m still looking to improve. But right now, while I’m never going to say I’m a great public speaker, I want to focus on storytelling. Toastmasters isn’t providing a pathway right now specific to storytelling, but several months ago, I announced here on the podcast my intent to modify the Visionary Communications path to work on these skills. Like all Toastmasters newbies, I’m facing some challenges. The first level’s speech projects were pretty simple for me to adapt to telling stories. Then – the plague hit. Here’s the second, deep, dark reason that I wanted to work on storytelling. I love performing before an audience. That feeling when you’ve got them in your hand and they’re breathlessly waiting for your next word… man, there is nothing like that. Nothing. I love that feeling and I want to build that skill into my presentations. It’s not the same online. Unexpected Customization Project Problems But I determined to continue, as the plague won’t last forever. There were a few projects that I struggled with to adapt, but strangely, it wasn’t the ones I expected. Leadership style How do I tell a story about leadership styles? Online? With the call during the spring for masks, I pulled out my old sewing machine and got to work. Interestingly, my daughter purchased a sewing machine at the same time – but she’d never shown any interest in sewing in the past, so I was surprised and pleased she’d done so… but it didn’t take long for her, so far away from any hands-on help, to get discouraged. My daughter-in-law was inspired to start sewing but the challenges – and then losing access to a machine – made sewing hard for her. Suddenly, I had a story – three stories, actually – of trying to help others learn to sew. I didn’t expect that to become an easy speech to develop. Intro to Mentoring should have been easy for me too. After all, we’re told in the instructions to share a story – a story – of how we’ve been mentored. But again, I was stymied. I wouldn’t say I’ve had a lot of relationships that I would call a formal mentorship. That speech became the story of recognizing those who taught me how to sew – and I demonstrated how to sew a mask at the same time. I honestly could not think of a single way to incorporate a story into this project -and then, it was simple and natural and organic. It just flowed from our circumstances into a tribute to some women from my past. This wasn’t a speech I could have given in front of a club easily – I needed my sewing machine. Level 4 Communicate Change also felt like I was going to have to force storytelling into the mix. Again, this was unexpectedly simple. My advanced club, Hall of Fame Advanced Speakers, needed a new plan to recruit members. I had some ideas about changes we might consider. While stories were not the central part of this speech, I made an effort to use story in the presentation. Customizing Your Toastmasters Level 4 So that’s where I am now. Level 4 electives. And I guess you’re thinking – Kim, you do podcasts. Why not just use the podcasting elective? Every one of your podcasts has a story in it. (Yeah, that was the first reason I wanted to focus on storytelling. To improve this podcast.) Here are my thoughts. I’ve completed 2 paths. I have a Pathways DTM. And while I haven’t done all of these projects for credit – I’ve done all these things. Level 4 is supposed to be about building skills. I’ve always said that given the chance, I’d always opt for Managing a Difficult Audience project because it’s so much fun – but will it be online? Plenty of Toastmasters have asked for advice how to do this project online and while I sympathize with them – I love this project – doing it online will not have the level of interaction with my audience that I crave. What I could do – and if I ever put all of this together as a proposal to Toastmasters for a new Path called Storytelling – is use the required speech project from the Engaging Humor path. The Power of Humor in an Impromptu Speech project description sounds like what I need – 2 impromptu speeches that are 2 to 3 minutes each, apparently done one right after another. Random topics. Anecdotes must be included. That’s exactly what I need. And fortunately, one of my fellow Toastmasters in my club just wrapped up the Engaging Humor path, so he has access to the material and might be willing to work with me on this. Looking forward to Level 5: Demonstrating Expertise I knew this would be the level that would require the most repurposing of the projects toward storytelling. The required assignment: Develop Your Vision is again one of those projects that going for a story doesn’t seem obvious to me. Perhaps as I work through all of the assigned resources, something will come to me. Right now, I’m planning to change up the Ethical Leadership project from a panel discussion to a story slam. Ever heard of a story slam? It’s were several storytellers are given a topic to prepare a story, and then the audience votes on the winner. I can use the topic “ethics” and create a storytelling event. It’s not exactly moderating a panel discussion, although I could include a Q&A session with the speakers and the audience as the votes for the winner are tabulated. Story Slam Open House Essentially, I’ll have to take over an entire club meeting for this event, but it would be something we could invite people to attend as a “come find out about Toastmasters” online party. I attended a storytelling class last winter and some of the attendees had been or currently are Toastmasters (hi, Alan!), most were not. So an event like this could be promoted into the local storytelling community as a way to introduce them to Toastmasters. Is what I’m doing legit? Will Toastmasters International approve? Firs
15 minutes | 9 months ago
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. Intro Do you have a vision to change the world? Do you need to develop the skills to see it happen? Then Toastmasters is for you. We teach public speaking and leadership skills to help you change the world. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Vision There’s a path in Toastmasters called Visionary Communications. I’m actually working through that path this year. I decided to change up the focus from creating vision to story telling – I’ll need to report to you about that next week. Learning how to create vision for your audience is the primary purpose of most public speaking. That’s why using images is so effective. When we can’t figure something out, images help us comprehend information. It’s a great tool – presentation software supports our message when we use it right. When we use it wrong – that’s the problem. How do you know when to use images? This year, we all have been using Zoom or other online software for meetings – Toastmasters, professional, educational. I start teaching a speech class in September. Because of the uncertain nature of the pandemic, I’m preparing to record my lectures so that if I have a student who has to quarantine or if the schools are closed, I have the lectures already prepared. One of the first presentations I need to record is my introduction and to review the syllabus. Should I use images? How do I decide? The question you need to ask yourself is this: What’s the point? What do pictures bring to your audience? We always have to remember that we’ve got an online audience, they are functionally trained to look for something else when what they’re looking at on the screen starts to bore them. There’s always something else to look at – even if it’s a game of solitaire or an Instagram video. On the other hand, the most attractive image to humans is… the human face. So it behooves us to learn how to use our faces to help create an attractive image on the screen to help keep the audience’s attention. Somewhere in there, there’s a balance. In the process of making my lecture decisions, I’ve found myself going both ways: images and not. The thing is – I don’t know how to edit videos. If I’m going to use my face – I’m going to only use my face unless I magically learn how to edit video to add in the images. If I’m going to use images, I’m going to only use images – I’m a big fan of Canva.com – an online website that produces good images and presentations and allows me to present them inside the program. Therefore, I need to make a decision and stick to it. My personal introduction won’t take long – maybe two minutes? I’m not sure I have a lot to say and honestly, when we first meet in a classroom, I’m not interested in making my students comfortable with me… just yet. My entire first class is about introducing my students to their stage fright symptoms and ratcheting up the stress to make sure the students feel each and every one of those horrible sensations. That sounds cruel, but I promise, it’s only for a little while. They’ll all be so relieved when they survive and class is over! I’ve never had anyone vomit or pass out yet! Two Choices I think my intro can be short: my name, and my purpose in teaching the class. That’s it. Now, the syllabus is a different matter altogether. For a class that has students from the ages 10 to 18, I’ve discovered that most of the students have never seen a syllabus, have no clue how to spell the word or what it is. I have to review all the components of the class in the syllabus with the students and this presentation isn’t going to be quick. The syllabus contains links to assignments, instructions regarding turning their home work in, expectations about presentations. You’re not giving a speech wearing black socks, sandals, gym shorts, and a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball T-shirt in my class. This document is 6 pages long and while I don’t have to cover every link or assignment from the start, I do need to make sure they know how to read the syllabus. Since this is going to take roughly 7-10 minutes, I’m pretty sure I’m going to use images to add some humor and to indicate where in the document I am. This is not where I want to scare them. What I’m saying is… the primary decision whether or not to use images is based on my audience, not my message. I think we sometimes get this wrong. We think our data is more important. That’s a mistake. The image we see with our eyes may be worth a thousand words. The vision we see with our mind’s eye is probably immeasurably more valuable. Communication has 3 components: the speaker, the audience, and the message. When we prioritize one over the others, we get out of balance and that stops communication. Our data – our images – are tools, not the end in itself! So how do we create vision in our audience? If the whole purpose of what we want to do with public speaking is to inspire change – to get our audience to act – we have to create a vision for them where they can see themselves doing something new, something different. That’s the challenge and the fun of public speaking. I can use images to help people understand my information. Vision is entirely different and applies to a different part of the human being. Facts apply to our brains. They should appeal to our sense of reason. But decisions aren’t always made on facts alone. We have to consider the three great cores of communication: logos, pathos, and ethos. When I teach speech, we do an analysis of two famous speeches. In Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech I Have a Dream, we see the heights of how effective the right words can be. His speech inspired a nation to seek to change. Crafting a speech like Dr. King’s may take a lifetime of experience, but we can start with learning how it’s done and practicing at our Toastmasters meetings. Using Language to Create Images Using language that inspires people to do better – that’s what Dr. Martin Luther King did. His years of preaching his faith and public speaking had created his unique voice that called all men to do better in our society. How do you do that? Study the greats. First, I think we all need to study the greats. Toastmasters never expects us to look to the past for examples. But history is rife with them and we can learn from them. Great speakers and great speeches didn’t just happen – someone understood the power of knowing the audience and understanding how language affects us. Of course, I’m going to suggest Dr. King’s speech. I’ll also suggest speeches by James Baldwin, Winston Churchill, and US Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and Barak Obama. I believe there are many great speeches in every culture and nation that I don’t know about. Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth. Go look those up and read them. Listen to them! Speeches aren’t meant to be read – they’re meant to be heard. Second, rhetorical devices Repetition works. Dr. King’s speech title isn’t I Have a Dream, but no one remembers the original name. He had used the phrase in previous speeches and was prompted by a guest at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to talk about his dream. By repeating the phrase, he worked it into his audience’s mind. Sojourner Truth’s speech Ain’t I a Woman? also uses repetition effectively. Do we expect the repetitions to be thematic or important words? Lincoln used repetition with the simple words “we cannot” in his Gettysburgh Address. Parallel construction by using phrases like, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” as President John F. Kennedy used in his inaugural speech uses repetition without repeating himself – although, if you read or listen to that speech, Kennedy maximizes repetition of phrases. Using alliteration in your speech helps your audience engage with you. This can also reduce your effectiveness. You don’t want to sound like a tongue twister, nor do you want to trip yourself up. But used well, your audience often responds well. The Images of Sounds Some sounds have come to be associated with certain emotions – the S sound often has a mental link to snakes in many languages, which may conjure some unpleasant emotional responses. What imagery do you want to inspire? Alliteration doesn’t come naturally to me. When I’m writing my speeches, I will often find better word choices and alliterations when I practice or deliver the speech. It’s disheartening to listen to myself say something on the fly that I could have used to craft a better speech, but I do it frequently. You will find a great list of all the rhetorical devices found the Mirriam Webster website – the link is in the show notes, as are all the links to the speeches I’ve mentioned – that includes examples of each of these. Go and get inspired! Using emotional words and sounds Finally, I think the last thing that inspires your audience to get your vision is to lay it out with how it will impact the world. I teach this in debate class as a persuasive technique to win a structured debate. This creates a vision. When you can put an image into people’s minds, it’s their vision of what you want them to see. That’s a pretty interesting result. But think about it. When we read a book or hear a podcast, we have our own images in our minds. When I’m telling a story, I don’t have to say “I’m standing in a grey kitchen beside a gas stove and a white refrigerator.” Those details don’t matter to my story, so I don’t need to include them – but the audience who listens to me has an image of a kitchen. Their kitchens. When you want to inspire change, you can depend on your audience to create their own imagery in their own minds – and that’s a much better basis for you. They have the buy-in to your message when they have the images that come to their minds with your words. They have emotional links to those images. You get to build on those, not tear them down and rebuild your exact images where your listener doesn’t have an emotional connection. Using your audience’s mental images That’s why the mental images are far more important than any image you might put up on a screen. If I don’t have an emotional connection with your vision, it stays your vision. I don’t engage. I don’t buy into it. The first inspirational speech I gave in Toastmasters was for the Competent Communicator about hypermiling – driving techniques that reduce fuel consumption back when gas was double the price it is today. When I was creative and demonstrated the impact with a story and with data, I had several people tell me that my speech changed how they drove. Did I give them a picture of the car I was talking about driving? Nope. I gave them their mental images and they bought into what I talking about – how to reduce their fuel costs. When I go to enrollment meetings for my classes, I always explain that I have no clue what a quadratic equation does or why it gets 2 answers, But I talk every day and the single best skill that a successful person needs is the ability to speak to others. I’ve inspired many families to join my classes because I gave the parents the vision of their children’s success – and the students an image of being able to convince their parents to permit a particular goal – one student used what I taught in class to get a pet lizard. What kid doesn’t have something they want that their parents don’t? I never dreamed of assisting in the acquisition of a lizard. But the image was in my student’s mind. The image we see with our eyes may be worth a thousand words. The vision we see with our mind’s eye is probably immeasurably more. Images and vision – what works for your audience and your message? Whatever your message is – your success depends on how you communicate your vision to your audience. Toastmasters will teach you – and give you the opportunities to practice those skills. Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. Our international Toastmasters convention is being held this month – August, 2020 – online! Our Toastmasters International Convention starts this month. And instead of paying airline prices and hotel fees as well as the convention costs, we can attend the 2020 Virtual Convention for free! You can register now at https://www.toastmasters.org/events/2020-international-convention – the link is in the show notes. You can even see the World Championship of Public Speaking. Remember, District 10’s competitor, Dr. Kitty Brandal, the finalist from our district will learn next week if she makes it to the final round. We’re rooting for you, Kitty! Join us next week when I talk about storytelling – and converting a path to a new focus. The post Adding Images and Vision to Your Speeches appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
15 minutes | 9 months ago
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. Which is not a dig at my club. They welcomed me, taught me, and encouraged my public speaking skills and leadership opportunities. But this new set of personalities and techniques inspired me. What were they? Introductions I wish I could remember the name of the Toastmaster of the Day. I know he was a Distinguished Toastmaster and at that meeting, he announced he was moving to San Diego. If you know who I’m talking about, let me know. He was a peach! It seems that at this meeting, one of the speakers had forgotten to bring an introduction for him to read. Is that important? Actually, yes. When you craft your speech, you’re not done until you have written out an introduction for the Toastmaster of the Day to use in the meeting. This short – maybe 100 words – text sets up you and your speech. Maybe you’ve noticed at the meetings that we don’t start our speeches with a “Hi, I’m Kim Krajci, I’ll be speaking to you today about how to buy tires.” We don’t need to say that because we expect the information to be presented by the Toastmaster of the Day. That’s why we have to craft that introduction text so carefully. What are you talking about? We are laying out the foundation of our presentation in what is said before we even take the stage. At least, that’s what we should strive to do. I remember one Toastmaster in a contest who understood this principle clearly. In Toastmasters contests, the contestant’s name and the name of their speech is all that is announced. This toastmaster put 50 words in his title. 50 words! And yes, I know that because it was the first thing he talked about in his speech – how funny it was, but how important it was to explain what he was going to talk about. No, I don’t remember what he talked about! That may have undermined his message. I don’t even remember if he won. But it set up the audience for his speech. That’s what your introduction should do. Imagine if the Toastmaster got up and introduced you in a drone-like, boring voice when you were presenting a humorous speech? Or worse, if the Toastmaster of the Day started joking with the audience and your speech was on a serious topic or eulogy? Write to Create Curiosity Writing to create curiosity or interest in your speech isn’t necessarily in your wheelhouse, so let me give you a few hints on how to craft your title, and then your introduction. You need to know who your audience is. In Toastmasters meetings, your audience can be anything you want them to be: wedding guests for a bridal toast, employees at a retirement party, reporters at a press briefing – I’ve seen all those and more. When you can define your audience, then you will know what’s important to them and what will want them to listen to you. Here’s the key: you don’t tell them. You ask the questions; you make the statements that intrigue them. Example You’re giving a speech about buying tires. Your average listener doesn’t know much about tires except how much they’re willing to pay. How do you make them interested? Appeal to what they do know and think about. Your introduction may be: “When you drive, do you think about what you’re driving on? The roads, the snow, the potholes? Where you drive matters far more than the money you’ll spend – or waste – on tires. Kim Krajci is here today to show you how to invest in your safety and your vehicle, and why you may be throwing away your money even if you think you’re saving it when you buy your next set of tires. Ladies and Gentlemen, Will Your Next Set of Tires Save Your Life? Kim Krajci.” Writing a good introduction should follow your speech preparation – it’s faster that way because you already know what information you’re going to give. You write questions into your intro that you’ll answer in your speech. This speech is focused on safety, money, and value, so that’s what my intro will cover without giving away all of my content. That’s why it’s key. In your speech introduction, you’re posing the questions you want your audience to be asking themselves. You don’t let the Toastmaster of the Day answer the questions – you answer them in your speech. Credentials? Some clubs encourage the addition of your credentials in your intro. I have no problem with that if there’s time for that level of detail. If I were speaking to a club about the power of good marketing – which I know about – I might add in my credentials to build up my value in the audience’s mind. Speaking in a professional setting, I would do that. I’ve done it. I spoke at an organization’s meeting last year where we discussed what they needed to do to attract new members. It would be an uphill battle for them – it wasn’t a forward-thinking crowd. I included my credentials and experience in my intro to be sure they knew I wasn’t someone trying to score the big bucks from them without any real experience or knowledge. Please use the Toastmaster of the Day to their best advantage. Give them the introduction you deserve and need to reach your audience. This is exactly what didn’t happen at the club meeting that I visited. One of the speakers didn’t give the TMOD an introduction, so this very creative man started the introduction like this: “When I don’t get a written introduction, it gives me permission to make up anything I want.” He proceeded to introduce the speaker as an astronaut who had walked on the moon. It was funny, it was cute, and… it was entirely wrong for that speaker with that speech. Risky Now, it’s risky to do this… to riff a speaker intro. You may end up preparing the audience for the wrong type of speech. That’s bad. Very bad – almost unprofessional. But you know… that speaker has probably never forgotten her speech intro again. At least, I hope not. I’ve done this myself. I didn’t have an intro for a speaker, so I talked about her skills as a lion tamer. Her speech was on chemistry. Polymer chemistry – which I know nothing about. Not the best introduction for a speech that was filled with interesting facts about how rubber and plastics are used in buildings in earthquake zones and in bridges and all sorts of different things I’d never thought about. Ok, I’m a geek from Akron, Ohio, the city once known as the Rubber Capital of the World – so that interested me but I was also embarrassed that I’d done her such a disservice in her introduction. It may be better for everyone if the TMOD just asks the speaker for their speech title – remember a speech is not entitled, it’s titled – and use the contest introduction: name, speech title, speech title, name. But that’s a disservice to you. Don’t handicap yourself. Write a good introduction and give yourself a good title. What’s a good title? My protégé – that’s what Toastmasters says I should call my mentee now – asked me about the title for her speech. She’s giving her ice breaker tonight. As a professional writer, she’s keenly aware of the power of titles and headlines. In a time when we are inundated with too much content, most people resort to scanning, not reading. What’s the key point a reader needs to know? How much detail are they willing to wade through? This is why we get clickbait headlines like 7 Ways to Entice Your Audience to Give You a Standing Ovation – and you’ll never believe number 5! Don’t tell me you haven’t fallen for that type of headline on an ad on the internet. Those titles are designed to get you to click on them. It’s practically a science. In fact, there are headline generators out there with dozens of suggestions for you when you enter your key phrase. http://Title-Generator.com is one of many out there which has a single page that I think is absolutely brilliant. The Headline Scorecard – links are in the show notes – asks 5 questions. When you answer those, you may have your title. A
12 minutes | 9 months ago
Toastmasters Triple Crown and Smedley Awards
What are your goals this year in Toastmasters? Have you given that much thought? What if you decide to think big and go for a Triple Crown? What’s a Triple Crown, you ask? Today on Toastmasters 101, let’s discuss your work and what you can do to win three awards in this Toastmasters year. Do your goals this year include learning how to speak in public? Are you interested in leadership? Then Toastmasters is for you. We teach public speaking and leadership skills. This is Toastmasters 101 podcast and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. How many projects can you do in one year? In my club, we have several new members who are asking questions about what they should do first. Probably like all experienced members, we encourage our new members to take on the listening roles – ah counter, grammarian, timer. In my club, the usual next step is to take on a small speaking role like Word of the Day or Joke of the Day, or Invocation or Toastamonial to end the meeting. However… in my club, getting the chance to do the Word of the Day or Joke of the Day is pretty tough because some of the senior members fight over them. Yes, I’m one of them. We have people who are moving slowly and we have people who are moving fast. That’s a big benefit to members – you work at your own pace. Those who want to work slowly will see the steps of the first level done by others. But those who want to move quickly will work with mentors to make scheduling decisions to move through the program faster. If your club meets weekly – which a majority of Toastmasters clubs do – you can expect that there are about 150 speech slots in one year. It’s reasonable to think that you’ll get a shot at a speech slot every month. That’s why Toastmaster Roy Monarch asked me about the Triple Crown Award. The Triple Crown is an award given to a Toastmaster who completes three awards in the Toastmasters program. In the former education program, that would be completing manuals and possibly completing some leadership tasks. This award is usually distributed by districts and is not a Toastmasters International award. Roy said he’d never heard about the Triple Crown before now – and his club intends to offer it to their members this year. So how can you get a Triple Crown Award? If you’re looking at earning a Triple Crown Award, you’ve got to start planning it. You can take a look at your upcoming projects in Base Camp. There are 5 tasks in Level 1 – 4 speeches and being a speech evaluator. In Level 2, 3 speech projects. In Level 3, usually 3 projects. So if you’re a new Toastmaster and just starting out, you’ve got 11 projects to complete in 12 months. That’s not hard, is it? You can make your plans now. If you’re a new Toastmaster, let me give you a few ideas how to make this easier. In general, doing the projects in order makes sense. You will build on your skills in sequence, which is why the projects are in this order… except… I find waiting for basic presentation skills until you’ve given 7 other speeches and perhaps developing some bad presentation habits doesn’t serve your goals well. Who wants to get into a practice and discover later that it’s a bad habit? In a previous episode – episode 18 – I talk about the essential speech skills that you need to build a foundation for your public speaking. I’d much rather you did those speech projects before your Mentoring or Communication Style speech projects – but that’s up to you. Skip ahead if you want! However – and this is important – you must complete all of the projects in a level before you get credit for them. That means you must go through the instructions and take the final evaluation quiz. Then you can submit your completed level request. Here’s the rub: you can’t submit a completed Level 3 until you’ve completed Level 2. Yes, it’s funky that way. You may want to skip Level 2, for example. You can do that – but you won’t get the Triple Crown if you do Levels 1,3 and 4. Unless they’re in different paths. Here’s the deal: the 3 awards do not have to be in the same path. If you’re working in 2 paths, the accumulation of 3 awards from either or both pathways is permitted. We’ll talk about working on two Paths at a time on another podcast – in fact, I’ve already talked about it once on Episode 23 . You can start another path at any time that you’re willing to pay for it. So you don’t have to get all your level awards in one Path. You could finish a Level 5 Path and start a new one and do levels 1 and 2 and still complete 3 awards in one year. That’s what the Triple Crown award celebrates: commitment to working through the Toastmasters education program at a pace that allows you to complete the work in 1 year. Starting on July 1 and ending on June 30 of the following year – that’s the Toastmasters year – you complete the work and report it. You may have been aware of the change in your district leadership in July. That’s why – our year starts in July. That’s why we have club officer training this time of year – new officers need to know what we expect them to do as they get started. So – make a plan. But you may want to find out if your district recognizes the Triple Crown Award. They may not. And that’s what Roy Monarch’s club intends to do – because their district does not. If you think your district should – I can’t think of a reason why you shouldn’t ask them to start. “It’s not been done here” or “We don’t do that” fail to recognize that we’ve changed up a lot in Toastmasters in the past 3 years. Between Pathways and Covid 19, we’ve had a lot of changes. Now your district can institute another. For people who feel that this is just a silly thing and of no value – let me say this. Don’t bother working for it then. But let those of us who want to do it do it. We promise not to stop you from not working on the Triple Crown. Did that make any sense at all? Here’s another award that Toastmasters International does recognize: The Smedley Award. What’s a Smedley? Ralph Smedley was the founder of Toastmasters. We honor his memory in 2 ways: we have the Smedley Fund, a funding mechanism for the advancement of education, a resource for Toastmasters in times of crisis, and for youth programming. From the Toastmasters.org website: …The reinvigorated Smedley Fund retains its same purpose—the advancement of communication and leadership education through the research, development, and distribution of educational programs and materials. https://www.toastmasters.org/About/Smedley-Fund The Smedley Fund will be used to replace Toastmasters materials if your club’s materials were destroyed in a disaster. The application for it is online at the Toastmasters.org website. I didn’t know about that until today! The other way we remember Mr. Smedley is the Smedley Membership Contest, which is held annually during the months of August and September. If your club gains 5 new members – reinstated or new members, you win the Smedley Award and a credit toward a purchase from the Toastmasters store website. Sadly, transferring members don’t qualify. So… it may be time for you to have a club open house event. How does that work when our meetings are online? I’d love to know – has your club had an online open house? Let me know – I want to be able to share your success and methods here on the podcast. Whether you’re working on club goals or on your personal goals, we want to help you build your message and find your voice at Toastmasters. Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. My thanks to Roy Monarch for his question and my congratulations for his completion of his Distinguished Toastmaster Award! We’ll talk again on Toastmasters 101. The post Toastmasters Triple Crown and Smedley Awards appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
20 minutes | 10 months ago
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. Table Topics is one of the sections of a Toastmasters meeting. It’s generally about 20-25% of the meeting. The Table Topics Master or Leader is to produce a prompt that will inspire a speaker to be able to respond in 1 to 2 minutes. Most clubs have 3 or 4 speakers per meeting. How your club manages Table Topics is part of the club culture. I know one club that starts their meeting with Table Topics and everyone participates. They say it’s to warm everyone up. That works for me. I don’t like meetings without Table Topics and I don’t really care where they are on the agenda. Leading Table Topics As Table Topics Leader, you have a lot of leeways. Your choices are wide and limited only by your sense of taste and your imagination. I have a number of props that I like to use when we’re in an onsite, such as a collection of water bottles or a set of sunglasses. I give the volunteer a choice of the bottles with a superpower listed inside – the prompt is to talk about it. The sunglasses have prompts that encourage thinking about visions – of the future, for the future, of the past, – that sort of thing. I’ve seen images or pictures for prompts. I’ve seen vegetables and toys. I’ve gotten prompts about the past, present, future, alternative future… You can find lots of prompts online for Table Topics. Some clubs do have evaluations of the Table Topics speakers. That’s a very interesting idea to me – because I think that impromptu speaking is what most of us do most of the time. Getting an evaluation of a Table Topics speech would be valuable to me. I’m going to do something new on this episode of Toastmasters 101. I’ve done interviews before, but I’ve never done this. We’re going to get my friend Jenilee Taylor on the line and we’re going to do Table Topics right here and now on the podcast! Jenilee Taylor currently serves as the president of my Toastmasters club – Cuyahoga Falls Toastmasters and a past district director of District 10. Last night, I laid out a challenge to her: I will give her a Table Topics prompt and she’ll give us a speech. We’ll talk about what she said and then we’ll turn it around and she’ll give me a prompt, then we’ll evaluate what we do differently and how we could have done better. [no transcript available] (For the record, my table topic speech was 1:31 minutes long.) Storytelling One of the keys I have to Table Topics is to tell a story. That’s my favorite – even more than rants, which are always fun. Who doesn’t love ranting about something that’s annoying you? But stories are so much better because you have a chance to really engage your audience. In order to give a Table Topics story in 2 minutes requires some fast thinking – or some good preparation. Podcaster and storyteller Matthew Dicks talks about a game he plays with his children and his students called 3,2,1. The speaker is given 3 words – physical objects. Then the speaker has 1 minute to think about what to say, and then has 2 minutes to speak. It’s a Table Topics challenge – broken down into a step by step basis. That’s what you can do – think about your stories of your life and get those ideas worked into stories or even outlines that you can remember. Risk in a Table Topics Speech Another way to think about stories in Table Topics is to consider the risk. Risk is what hooks people into a story. What’s going to happen? How’s it going to work out? In this situation, you probably need to know where you’re going to end before you start, and try to build up suspense as you tell the story. I’ve been trying to do this more in my table topics responses. I’m happy when I can pull it off! Unprepared Table Topics? 4 Keys to Help So what about being afraid of impromptu public speaking? What happens when we don’t have the time to prepare? First of all, I think you need to stop thinking about your body. Force yourself to ignore your physical reactions. Concentrate on your topic and content. Think about it. When you are having a normal conversation, you aren’t thinking about your hands shaking. You’re thinking about what is being said to you and what you’re going to say in response. Second, when we’re faced with the impromptu question, we need to frame it in such a way that it doesn’t trigger panic. It’s not always a challenge when we’re asked a question. Let’s remember that asking a question is the start of a dialog. Third, try to think creatively. As you develop your public speaking presentation skills, you will be able to pay more attention to your content than your body and face. What will keep your audience’s attention will be more important than your stage fright symptoms. Fourth, go for the funny. Humor covers a lot of presentation sins. If you can make people laugh, they’ll ignore all the ums and ahs. Unless they’re Toastmasters. Then we’ll notice them. If you’re a Table Topics leader with a number of newer Toastmasters who are going to be your participants, try to pick easy and fun prompts. “What’s your superpower?” is far less intimidating to newbies than “What’s your philosophy of government?” I’m not a newbie and that’s still an intense question. I love Would You Rather questions or single word prompts that have multiple meanings. Like the word “stone.” That can go in a lot of directions. Your job at Table Topics Leader is not to trip up the members. It’s to give them an opportunity to hone this vital skill. This is why we always want to have Table Topics in a Toastmasters meeting. We need to learn how to think on our feet as it were. It does come down to self-confidence again. Confidence in your ability to tell a good story. Confidence in your skills. And finally, confidence that you can do this – you do it all the time! Wrap it up, Kim Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. My thanks to Jenilee Taylor -she’s always up for fun on this podcast. Have you subscribed to this podcast yet? Now’s the time to go to your favorite podcast player and subscribe to Toastmasters 101 podcast. Make sure you volunteer for table topics at your next meeting – either as a speaker or as a leader. See you next time on Toastmasters 101 podcast. The post Table Topics: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking appeared first on Toastmasters 101.
19 minutes | 10 months ago
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. Back to Basics: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking Key #1 – Learn To Recognize The Difference Between Your Body and Your Audience Whatever your stress reactions are, learn to recognize them for what they are: physical manifestations of energy your body is producing. You can let this power drive you – or you can drive this power into your presentation. You may not be afraid of public speaking, you may just not know how to deal with this unexpected energy in your body. That’s different from being afraid of your audience. Was I afraid of my audience for the speech I had to give that I talked about at the beginning of this episode? Not physically, but events at the time had proven that most of this audience was not friendly to me. I might not have called them enemies, but they’d proven they were not friends. To top it off, I was not going to away – my commitment to the task was evidence of that. Quite honestly, there was a drive to get me to leave the group. So I think my physical reactions that night were very reasonable. But… Your Body and Your Fear of Public Speaking Whether you’re giving bad news or you’re just so new to public speaking that you don’t know what your body is going to do – your body feels like it’s working against you. When I needed to sound clear and competent, my voice wobbled. My notes were shaking in my hands. I’m pretty sure I was about to vomit and I’ll bet I was pale and my skin looked clammy. I’ve said on this podcast and said at many Toastmasters meetings, getting used to being on the stage will help you learn your public speaking stage fright symptoms and you’ll learn how to deal with them. You have to be willing to get up there first to discover what they are. Many of these physical reactions are outside of our control. I don’t know about you, but I can’t convince myself not to be nauseated. We may not be able to control these reactions, but we can compensate for them. The obvious one is The Shakes If your hands shake, then the simplest solution is to keep your hands out of sight. Toastmasters recommends that we stand up straight and keep our hands at our sides when we don’t have a purpose to move them. I don’t know about you – but I talk with my hands. In fact, if you saw me record this podcast episode, you’d tell me to watch how much I flail around with my arms. I’m very expressive during recordings. I knock my microphone stand, I hit my hands on my desk. You wouldn’t believe what I have to edit out of these recordings. So I think this is good advice – that I often ignore. When I try to control my hands, I put them behind my back. This irritates my evaluators, but it’s the only position I’ve found I will keep my hands still. But what if I have notes that I need? When I teach high school speech class, I talk about this problem with my students. I never say that notes aren’t useful, I do demonstrate how notes can be dangerous. Rattling papers distract the audience and send a message that a speaker doesn’t want. The best way to handle shaking hands – is to know your material very well and don’t need notes. If you feel you must need notes, consider note cards, not paper. You don’t need your entire speech written out in front of you. You need a few notes. If you’re dealing with numbers that you’re going to have to say and you need to be accurate, I strongly suggest you use a handout to make the numbers clear and eliminate confusion. You may be just starting out and suggesting that you use a computer presentation software is adding a complication you might feel is beyond you right now – but numbers on a screen are a lot simpler for everyone. My friend Judy just did a presentation at an advanced club about how to present statistics. It was eye-opening to see how we can show numbers in ways that clarify our points. You can find out ways to do it well! So – avoiding paper, hiding your hands, and using computer graphics helps you hide the shakes. Shaky knees This is actually kind of easy. Wear something that hides your knees. Locking your knees won’t work and actually works against you. It makes you stiff and awkward. It reinforces your nerves because it’s not how we stand. For women, you might want to consider what shoes you want to wear. Would heels be better? Would flat shoes? What are you most comfortable in? Find the clothing that suits your comfort level and the needs of the presentation. If your audience is expecting a professional presentation, you need to dress appropriately. You can practice your presentation so you don’t have to worry about how your clothing is going to affect you. In the last podcast episode, I talked about breathing. But what about nausea? I wish I had a good answer for this one. I have been giving a presentation with a fellow toastmaster for a non-profit organization for several years. In this year of the plague, we discussed moving it online. I am not a lover of webinars. I have a maximum span of attention online. Look, I watch many Youtube videos on double speed because I get bored. I’ve been conditioned to believe that if I get bored online, there’s something else for me to look at. Or a game for me to play. So – doing a webinar – not my thing. In fact, I’m leading a webinar tonight and I’ve limited it to half an hour because I can’t take it. I’ll bore myself in that amount of time! But my biggest stress reaction has always been in my guts. I get nauseated. Limits So my plan is pretty simple – I’m not going to eat much beforehand. I will try to limit what I eat to simple, fresh foods that aren’t going to give me indigestion before I start. Lots of water – an hour before. I get comments from some of my fellow Toastmasters about how much I drink during the meetings. Well, some of my meetings are in the morning and I’m still drinking my chai. Some of my meetings are after dinner, so I’m finishing up. Plus, I get dry. I usually have a glass of water beside me during the day, regardless of what I’m doing. The reason I don’t have water beside me at an in-person meeting is probably because I forgot my water bottle out in my car. Avoid whatever makes you burp – carbonated beverages or seltzers. And that’s pretty much all I can say about that – I still struggle with gasiness when I speak. Not pretty, but hey, I’m gonna be real here. Many of your body’s reactions to stress and fear of public speaking can’t be eliminated. It can be masqueraded. It can be hidden or you can redirect your audience’s attention to something else. If you have a prop and your hand is shaking, using an image might work better for you. You can come up with your own tips – and practice them at Toastmasters. Did I ever tell you about the 10-minute speech I had to give and my knees were really bad – not just shaky, but I was in a lot of pain. I was shifting from foot to foot to try to get some relief – and I knew my evaluator would ding me on that – so instead, I gave the speech in front of the lectern. My topic was driving, so I set up two chairs – like the front seat of my car – and gave the speech as if I’d just gotten into my car. A little bit of play-acting – adjusting the seat, the mirrors, etc – and my audience joined me in a presentation that I’ve still gotten comments about 9 years later. Nobody knew the reason why I wanted to sit – and still don’t. Don’t tell anybody I told you about this, ok? Be creative in how you can camouflage your body’s reactions to stress. You will find your
16 minutes | 10 months ago
Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking: Your Voice
Last week, we talked about overcoming your fear of public speaking. This week is part 2 – your voice. Overcoming your fear when you think everyone can hear your fear in your voice? This is the battle we face. It’s very hard to talk about fear. I spent hours writing this podcast and feeling really awkward because when you share your fear, you become vulnerable. You let people see a part of you that exposes you to risk. I called this series Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking, but in reality, I believe that the only way to overcome your fear of public speaking is to do it. In psychology, I guess it’s called exposure therapy. But I’m not going there – I don’t have the expertise or knowledge to address this, nor do I want people to think that I’ve got the answers. What I offer here is better called “Coping with Your Stage Fright Symptoms.” INTRO Does the fear of public speaking keep you from sharing your message with the world? Then you need Toastmasters. We have ways of making you talk that you’ll find fun along with tools to develop your skills. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking How do you overcome your fear of public speaking when you can’t even talk? I am not going to resolve anyone’s fear issues in a 15-minute podcast – so I’m not going to try. But what I can do is make a few suggestions that might make your first – or your next – speech at Toastmaster go a bit better. Today on the podcast: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking Part 2: Your Voice. I believe that people will get more comfortable on the platform or behind the microphone over time. Experience teaches us what our bodies will do – good and bad, useful and distracting – when we give a speech. As we get more comfortable, many of those symptoms become less problematic. As they reduce, sometimes new symptoms rise in their places. Well, that’s not fair, is it? The real issue isn’t the symptom – it’s the energy. Energy: The Result of Stress Our bodies create various hormones and chemicals when we are faced with stress and anxiety. When we are faced with a stressful situation, humans react as all animals do. Fight, flight, freeze, or my personal favorite because I teach high school students, stink. These hormones create energy for our bodies to do whatever our natural inclination is to do when we are under stress. To run away. To hide. To attack whatever is threatening us. That energy gives us strength – the kind of strength that we don’t normally need, so when those moments of stress arrive, we have to cope not only with not only the situation, but also all these crazy, unfamiliar feelings in our bodies. That’s why I believe that if the only thing that Toastmasters might give you is a place to safely speak to a group of people, that would help you overcome what we call the fear of public speaking. You’ll eventually get comfortable and you might discover – giving a speech can be fun. Toastmasters does offer a lot more than just a platform. We’ve got the gold-standard of nearly a century of teaching public speaking and leadership – because the two are linked – with the tools you need to develop your voice and your message. Overcoming your fear of public speaking is learning how your body reacts. The only way to do that – experience it. Have you ever seen a baby put a piece of lemon in their mouth? I did this to all of my children at one point or another, often before they had many other solid foods. They would grab it and shove it in their mouths, but then the sour juices filled their mouths and they made the cutest faces. But they wouldn’t take it out of their mouths! Even though the flavor was so strong, they weren’t giving it up. It was new and to us adults, a full wedge of lemon would be intolerable, but to the baby, it was a new taste and new sensation and not one they ever gave up voluntarily. Fear of Public Speaking or Fear of Our Body? I think that’s a rich metaphor for how some people take to public speaking. It may be really strong and sour and does things to our faces – but they’re not giving it up. I fit in that category. For others, the stress of public speaking gets mixed in with the unknown and horribly disconcerting reactions of their body to that stress. Let’s pull these apart just a bit so you can decide for yourself what you’re really reacting to. There’s fear of the crowd – being afraid of what a group of people might do to you is justified. There’s fear of shaky knees – that’s your body’s reaction to hormones in your system. Don’t be afraid of shaky knees – that’s a symptom. Fear of being mocked? That’s justified. Fear of passing out – I know that sounds like it’s justified, but it’s really a physical reaction that you don’t need to fear – you need to cope with it. See – public speaking is truly an interaction with other people. Separate that from how your body reacts – and you have the most important key to overcome your initial reaction to stepping up for a speech. Fainting with Fear? For the record, I’ve never seen anyone faint when giving a speech at Toastmasters. I’ve never seen anyone in real life faint while giving a speech. I think movies or tv shows might show it – but exaggeration is the tool of entertainment media. I’m willing to entertain that it may have happened to someone, somewhere… but I’ve never seen it and I’ve seen people who I thought might – but didn’t. So let’s talk about how to cope with a couple of symptoms you might face – in particular, your voice. Our voices give us away every time. Sometimes we can mask our emotions and use our voice to do so. We raise our glass and say a happy “Cheers” at a wedding when we’re pretty sure this champagne is being wasted because this marriage is doomed. We make it sound like we mean it when we are toasting the new couple, regardless of our thoughts. But when coping with a stage fright symptom, we are at the mercy of our throats. Resonance Do you know how the human body produces our voice? We breathe in air and as we breathe it out, the air passes through a space called our voice box – two vocal cords that vibrate. Those sound waves echo in our throats, in our mouths, in our sinus cavities and come out in a unique way. Unless you’re my three daughters, in which case, I might not be able to tell you apart. Often stage fright symptoms show up in this system. We have a hard time breathing. We feel like our throat is closing up and we can’t speak. When you think about that – it does make a weird sense that if your brain thinks you’re in trouble, it’s going to stop you from speaking. “You need to get out of here and not stay around and say something and make it worse” may be what your brain is preparing you to do by sending signals to release adrenaline into your system. At a Toastmasters meeting, no one is going attack you. We’re here to support you and I think you know that. So you know you can get up and speak and now you’ve created a situation where your brain is saying “Get out of here” with one system and “Go ahead and speak” with the other. No wonder people can’t think when they get on the stage! When you deal with breathing and voice issues in overcoming your fear, I think there are a few things you can do that will help you cope. 1. Stand up straight. That study reported in the most-watched TED Talk ever about power positions turned out to be questionable, but we’re not talking about power, we’re talking about control. Stand up straight means your shoulders down and back, your head high. This position opens your throat, extends it, and will impact the resonance of your voice. You’ll sound stronger and louder. Posture does have an influence – on yourself. You’ll feel better if you stand up straight because our bodies are designed to stand like that. Yes, it feels rigid and uncomfortable for a few minutes. You may not have the strength in your muscles to hold yourself that way – yet – you need to work on that – but if your breathing or your voice is your most dominant stage fright issues, getting started with good posture may be enough. 2. The power of the sour I talked about lemons before and I imagine there may be some people who love their lemon water as a treatment for dry mouth on stage. Personally, I think a bottle or glass on the stage is a dangerous thing to a speaker. It’s a bad prop and your audience knows that you drinking is a sign of your nerves – because they know that feeling. I have two suggestions for dry mouth and neither of them are on the stage. Eat a green apple before you go up to speak. The power of the sour will make your salivary glands go into overdrive. They can’t stop themselves. Spit happens! An apple has many virtues – remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away – but mostly, you simply can’t have a dry mouth when you eat a sour apple. You might take that a step further and want to go with lemon, but I find that lemon makes my mouth pucker, which makes it harder to speak. Apples provide a quick shot of natural sugar to help you with the energy you need – fear depletes us fast – and gives you the added benefit of clearing out your mouth of anything else that might be in your throat. Ok, snot. It clears out snot as you chew it not only in your throat but
16 minutes | 10 months ago
Overcome Fear of Public Speaking with Toastmasters
What’s your biggest challenge in public speaking? Is it overcoming your fear of public speaking? Do you struggle to tell your stories? Does the stage fright scare you off? Are filler words filling up your speeches? Maybe you’re lost with no idea what to give a speech about? At one point or another, we all face these challenges in public speaking. Right now is your opportunity to make some decisions that will help you solve those problems later. Welcome to the new year – the Toastmasters New Year – and all the promise that a new year has. Intro Do you want to overcome your fear of public speaking? Then Toastmasters can help you. Our proven plan can teach you the skills and techniques of public speaking so you can share your message with the world. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci. Getting lost in the plan Have you ever started a project and watch it go wrong? You’re stuck at a place with no idea what to do next or how to finish it? Maybe you’re lost on a trip. Maybe you’ve got just enough experience to get yourself in a pickle. Or maybe you just need a better plan. Public speaking challenges people down to the core of their being. Whether they’re afraid of being judged or afraid of making a fool of themselves, or concerned that they can’t effectively communicate their message – those go down into the center of who we are, who I am as a person. Fear might overcome almost every other emotion we feel – even love, passion, or pleasure. So how does Toastmasters help your fear of public speaking? At our essence – the reason that Toastmasters was created – we are here to help people overcome their fears of public speaking. We are here to teach you the techniques to communicate well from the platform or the soapbox. The primary way we help people is to provide a place to uncover your fears. We give you the freedom to stand up and speak and figure out exactly what your body is doing and how to deal with it. Now… we don’t talk about it like that. Toastmasters.org has a 3:35 minute video on fears on the website. But when we go to meetings, we don’t often hear about anxiety or fear from the speaker. But boy, is it demonstrated! We see it at every meeting. Getting up to speak means getting up over your anxiety. At every meeting, we see members doing just that. While we don’t identify the causes of stage fright, our meetings are designed to overcome it. Prepared speeches give us the opportunity to find your message. As we develop what we want to say as well as how to craft a speech to be persuasive and effective, we find there’s a power inside us that needs to speak. Impromptu speaking – either Table Topics or evaluations – teach us how to think on our feet when we don’t have time to work out our message in advance. Here is where we start to find our voices. Anxiety is too big to discuss on a 15-minute podcast. I’m not going to try. I can say that for many Toastmasters, we don’t talk about it. We live it. Imposter syndrome How many of us struggle with the mental mindset that we don’t have anything to say – or why should anyone listen to us? I struggle with this every week. What do I cover on the podcast? Why should anyone listen to me? So what is Toastmasters offering to help us – besides a meeting where we don’t talk about it? Pathways Education Program We provide an education program that gives you the techniques to prepare you to be a public speaker. In the program, you’ll learn basic skills – like how to walk up to the lectern and speak. How to write a speech – the very basics of research and speech composition. With your first 5 speeches, you’re going to wrestle with the fear that can paralyze you – and walk anyway. The first 4 prepared speeches we ask you to give are the Ice Breaker speech, where you talk about yourself. The next two speeches are on the topic of your choice – you give it and then, based on the evaluation you received, revise it and give it again. Then the 4th speech is again on a topic of your choice – something you must research and organize your material into a 5 to 7-minute presentation. You will give at least 1 impromptu speech – an evaluation of another speaker. This set of speech projects isn’t random. Toastmasters has spent over 90 years refining how to teach public speaking skills. We think that the easiest speech you’ll ever have to write is to tell us your own story. Then to learn how to organize and present – and accept an evaluation focused on how you can improve – that’s not something we pulled out of our hats. If you’re new to Toastmasters, you may not know that you can give any speech you want from your path at any time. If you want to jump to the level 5 speech projects, we can’t stop you. We certainly will try to discourage you from doing that because we know you need the skills that you’re going to learn in Level 1 through 4 first. Going Through the Pathways Levels Each level in Pathways is designed to build on the skills you’ve already mastered or information about yourself that you’ve learned. In particular, Level 2 is learning about yourself – your styles, your natural inclinations, your history. Here’s where I think some people get lost. What does your leadership style have to do with giving a speech? What does being mentored have to do with public speaking? I see people get confused on Level 2. Confused and sometimes angry. This isn’t what they signed up for, they’re thinking and usually, this is close to the time they need to consider staying a member for another 6 months… I hear you. I felt the same way. This is why I think you can skip these speeches if you want to – Level 3 has riches you never imagined. It’s a treasure trove of public speaking training. Many aspects of public speaking – vocal variety, body language, storytelling – are there. If the Level 2 speeches – the two style speeches and the mentorship speech – don’t interest you, then skip them. You may want to come back to them later because they do give you some insight into yourself – but don’t let them slow you down or stop you from making progress in overcoming your fear of public speaking. See – we believe and we’ve got decades of proof – The best way to overcome fear of public speaking is to do it. DO. IT. I’ve watched a countless number of people discover that their fear can be overcome. It’s not therapy that these people needed – it’s opportunity. When we don’t know what our body is likely to do once we’re on stage, it’s the fear of the unknown that complicates our ability to deal with the fear of public speaking. So if you don’t like the next speech in the Pathways sequence – skip it. Move on to something that does interest you and inspire you. This is Toastmasters New Year. We’ve turned over into our 2020-2021 year and everything is an opportunity. Pathways is designed as a program with rewards for every level. Those education awards connect with the club because it’s an important way to judge if the club is doing well. Are the members achieving education awards? That shows if the club is supporting the members in their quests to overcome their fear of public speaking and to improve their speech skills. If you joined Toastmasters to improve your public speaking skills, then now is an ideal time to take a look at your current education and your goals and sync them up. How Often Should You Speak to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking? This is a question I’ve been asked a few times and I think the answer has to be: more often than you’re comfortable. Because you’re never going to become comfortable until you push through the emotional wall that’s blocking you. Granted, getting on a club agenda for a prepared speech can be hard when the club has many members and they all want a slot. But I have a secret for you if you’re in a large Toastmasters club. Don’t look for a speech slot for next week. Look for one a few weeks out. You’re more likely to get a speech slot for a meeting that’s weeks away than for this week if you’re in a large club. In fact… Ask your club’s vice president of education how far out you can schedule speeches. Consider making it a personal goal to speak at least once a month if you have weekly meetings. Schedule Yourself in Advance Now that’s a bit tricky if you have a mind like mine… I tend to forget that I signed up for a role. I have to go and check the agenda every week because I schedule one role per meeting for weeks in advance. Not just speeches – all the roles. I even have a sequence – Toastmaster of the day, Table Topics, Prepared Speech, Evaluator, Timer, General Evaluator, and Grammarian / Word of the Day, and then I start again. In my club, the likelihood that we’ll have an open slot at any given meeting allows me to slide in and get my one speech per month done, even if I don’t have one scheduled that month because I’m filling other roles. By scheduling myself weeks in advance, I guarantee that I’ll have a role in the meeting – which I could sacrifice if another member needed to fill a slot – that helps me keep my skills up. If the purpose of my membership is to overcome my fear of public speaking – then I have to speak! With a schedule of roles, I’m sure to speak, even if it’s just to report the times of the speakers – which I do have fun
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