Excellence

To excel is to do Better Today than you did Yesterday

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Together We All Can Achieve

Not long ago, I listened to a presentation by one of my fellow Toastmasters who reminded me why I joined Toastmasters and why so many of us who have remained faithful to this wonderful organization keep coming back.  And as I drove home from that meeting, I was reminded of a little book that was given to me years ago, by a Toastmaster I admire; Dana La Mon.  In his little black book entitled, “The Excellence Book” Dana writes that he was stuck as he contemplated his job and his career. As he considered what his focus should be in life, repeatedly, the word excellence flashed in his head.

 

In Dana’s little black book, he explains that to excel is to do better today than you did yesterday.  Compare your performance today with yesterday’s results and if you improved or advanced you excelled. If you see room for more improvement, you should be looking at tomorrow’s opportunities to excel. I have noticed over the years that those who keep coming back seeking excellence have found it. They find it by simply following the program and the promise they took when they first joined Toastmasters.

We all joined Toastmasters and attend meetings for different reasons, but there comes a time when we all will ask ourselves that question – “why do we keep coming back.” I do believe if you answer is in search of excellence, you are coming back for the right reasons. And that excellence extends beyond your personal goals. That excellence should be for your fellow members and your club as well to excel.

Doing your best should be your focus. Even if or when your decisions make you unpopular, always remember excellence demands that you do your best and not be the best. Keep excelling day by day and Together Excellence will be Achieved.

 

 

Impromptu Speaking & Table Topics

Table Topics are Powerful Tools for Growth as a Speaker.

IMG_4521 (1)Every day, we engage in impromptu speaking. In daily conversations, we speak off-the-cuff. At Toastmasters meetings, almost every club includes a Table Topics segment. Some clubs also include improv exercises to help speakers hone their spontaneous speaking skills.  Impromptu Speaking and Table Topics are powerful tools for your growth as a speaker.

  • When asked for your opinion, or a summary of a task at work, we are sometimes required to speak extemporaneously. Table Topics hones your skills at creating an impromptu response that is laser-focused, compelling and engaging. It is a skill that requires practice. With practice, you can become a natural, as you make it part of your everyday communication.  With practice, you will become adept at speaking on your feet without excessive umm’s, ah’s and you-knows.
  • Your primary goal when speaking extemporaneously should be to communicate effectively. Good communication begins with good listening.  In Table Topics, you are asked a question or,  you are required to comment on a statement.  As you listen silently to the topic, you should do a quick analysis. You should be able to quickly answer in your head if you are faced with a question or statement, for which you must share your opinion.
  • Next, a good strategy is to repeat or paraphrase the question out loud to your audience.  This will buy you some time to gather your thoughts.  Get your body language involved. Face your audience with confidence. Beginning your response,  a  smile is always a good start.  Focus on your audience and your audience’s attention will be focused on you as you prepare to make what will be the most important statement you will make to that audience.
  • You must answer the question or state your opinion with confidence.  You must also follow up your statement with an example, tell a story to make your point. Try to be unique. Add a twist to the subject.  Turn it upside down. Take the road less traveled. If your topic requires you to state the pros vs cons, find a balance and try to read your audience’s reactions as you state your position.
  • Finally, you should summarize your main points or position to remind your audience of your answer to the topic. Remember communication is not what you said, it is what your audience think you said.  Don’t leave your audience with any unanswered questions in your response. Be clear, be direct be engaging and remember your last words will remain with your audience even after you have left the platform. Choose your last words wisely.

Your Communication Style

Communication Styles are Often Situational.

IMG_2915Communication is a two-way process for reaching mutual understanding through verbal, non-verbal, and written messages.   Determining your own communication style can help you improve how you share information with others.  Learning how to communicate effectively with styles that are different from your own, will enable you to establish effective relationships and create better understanding. 

Some communications styles are Sociable – Decisive – Cautious – Patient. When Collaborating with other we may be Cooperative, Spontaneous, Competitive or Precise. When sharing feelings with others we are sometimes Reserved, Private, Sympathetic, or Self-assured.  How others perceive us is also important.  Some may perceive you to be Gentle – Result-oriented – Fun-Loving or Disciplined.  The goal of understanding your communication style preferences is to communicate with others in a way that is comfortable and effective when we find ourselves in different settings.

It is important to recognize how effective communication can affect your interactions with others. It can lead to higher efficiency and good moral in the workplace, increased innovation and creative potential in groups, and satisfactory personal and familial relationships. Communication styles are often situational. Be sure to monitor your application of communication styles.

Decide if your current style is effective based on feedback and outcomes. If necessary, adjust your behavior and adopt new styles to fit a situation, team, or person. Recognize and adjust your style of communication to reach a mutual understanding.

Direct: This style is decisive, competitive, independent, and confident.  Direct communicators prefer you to get to the point quickly and in a succinct manner.

Initiating: This style is sociable, enthusiastic, energetic, spontaneous, and fun-loving. Initiating communicators value interacting with others and sharing stories.

Supportive: This style is calm, steady, approachable, sincere, and gentle. Supportive communicators appreciate a calm, steady approach.

Analytical: This style is precise, exact, analytical, and logical. Analytical communicators like facts, data, and figures.

It is my hope that you can now better understand your communication style.

Speechwriting Secrets

Borrow From the Pros

IMG_3137 (1)To quote Dr.  Ralph C Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters, “Speech is much more than merely standing before an audience and saying something”, however, when you get an opportunity to say something to an audience, you want to make sure that opportunity is not wasted.  So what do you do when you don’t have an army of speechwriters like presidents, politicians, and CEOs – You borrow from the pros.

There are many examples of great speeches written and delivered by professionals that can be used as excellent examples of good speechwriting. What is most important to look for in those examples is their structure. In order to better understand what structure is all about, you have to write out your speech.  Many good coaches can look at your structure to conclude if your speech is good or bad.

David Brooks, a speechwriter, and coach I admire often says in his coaching sessions, “great speeches are not written they are rewritten”. After getting down the basics; a strong beginning, an informative middle, and a memorable ending, that is when the rewriting begins. Have a well-defined structure that both you and your audience can follow.  Don’t wait until you face your audience to start your rewriting on stage,  don’t try to wing it, that’s when most speakers get into trouble.

While it is great to have a well-rehearsed strong opening, being in the moment also makes for a good opening. Tagging a line from the previous speaker to maintain the power already created in the room works well for most audiences, however, you should choose that tagline carefully. From there go back to your script. If you can deliver eighty percent of what you have written, you should be in good shape. The other twenty percent should be those spontaneous opportunities you observe to connect with your audience.

The personal stories you tell can leave a lasting impression on your audience, therefore they should be delivered from the heart and not read.  All of my mentors strongly emphasizes that “good speeches are delivered not read”. Even if the personal stories included in your speech are written in some format, switch the eighty-twenty rule for that part of your speech. Eight percent Off-Script and if you must, twenty percent scripted. Your stories will be much more believable and better received.

Create your own power or catchphrases to make your message resonate with your audience. Those phrases will resonate with both you and your audiences even long have you have given that speech. As you continue the process of rewriting, you will begin to see more and more opportunities to add humor and phrases that will personalize your speeches. Power statements and catchphrases add life to your speeches. They should roll off your tongue as if you are releasing a small part of you.

I always recommend that you “Open to Close”.  Go back to the opening to recall the statements that laid the foundation for your speech. The statements you stated as the reason for you facing that particular audience. Your closing is your opportunity to drive home your message. It is your opportunity to close the deal. And if after all is said and done, your audience is just all revved up and ready to take some actions all because of your message, you would have done much more than merely stand before an audience to say something. You are now well on the road to presenting as a pro.

 

 

 

International Speech Contest Tips

What Will Be Your Magic Moment

TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL SPEECH CONTEST PREPARATION & DELIVERY

Topic Selection – Questions Before Beginning The Process

  • Are you passionate about the subject?
  • Is this an appropriate subject for this particular audience?
  • What will be your  Magic Moment?
  • Who is the HERO of my story?
  • What is the Purpose/Point of the speech?

Types of Speeches:

  • Informative: A clear and concise delivery of information of facts.
  • Entertaining: Focusing on keeping your audience happy and entertained.
  • Persuasive or Motivational: To encourage your audience to take action.

 The Two Stages – The Four P’s 

  1. Preparation: The process of documenting and researching your topic.
  2. Presentation: Practicing and delivering your speech.

 The Parts of Your Speech

  • Speech Title: Short – Don’t let your title  give away the speech
  • First Expressions: Effective Openings. (Humor –Thought Provoking)
  • Salutations – Place Your Salutations in the first minute (Mr. TM etc – Optional).
  • Your check-In Establish a connection with your audience.
  • Your High Five – Five lines which tell where your story is heading.
  • Conclusion Indication that you are about to close. ( My Fellow Toastmasters)
  • Your Take Away – Your Call to Action.

Decide what you want listeners to Think – Feel or Do.

  • Your attention getter * Your first sentence* Be provocative*
  • Identify with your topic early. Let your audience know where you are heading.
  • Get your audience to agree with your point of view. (Read your audience)
  • Structure your main points so that your audience can recall them.

The four points of attack: Your 4 H factors:

Head > Heart > Humor > Heavy Lifting – Heavy Lifting – Taking your audience on the journey after you have engaged them with head, heart, and humor.

How to time your speech:

Calculate your rate of speaking. Men average 125 wpm while women average 150 wpm.  Some speeches may have averaged 600 -750 while other averaged 800 – 1100

  • Five to seven-minute speeches should average 750 to 800 words – for comfort.
  • Use single syllable words
  • A picture is worth ……..
  • With pictures or a prop, you could increase that number significantly.
  • Place important words at the beginning or the end of your sentences.

    Delivery

  • Use familiar words: Use everyday speaking language.
  • Use short sentences: They can be very effective after a long sentence.
  • Personalize stories: Speak from the heart.
  • Turn the ordinary to extraordinary: Remove unnecessary words.
  • Use vivid Language: Use descriptive words. Paint word pictures.

Silence is just as important as the spoken word. 

  • Pause before and after important ideas.
  • If you speak continuously you will lose your audience.
  • Strategically placed pauses can say more than words.
  • The silence after the pause sends the message.

 Make a point – Tell a Story – Make a Point  –  The Six words that can change the way you speak and deliver your message. The six emotions we all respond to – Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, Anger, Fear, Disgust

Don’t give your speech— Deliver it – Use Martin Joo’s Speech Registers

  • Frozen Formal Consultative Casual Intimate – Registers to deliver your message
  • Use the platform carefully to lay out your speech.  Watch Your Placements.
  • Develop a speech storyboard.
  • Watch your Vocal Variety and Body language – Your Body Speaks.
  • Video Tape and self-evaluate your speech. (Sound on /Sound off)

Don’t Memorize – Internalize Your Speech:

  • Practice but don’t memorize the speech. Live it on stage -Be in the moment
  • Improve your physical fitness…Your breathing is very important to your delivery
  • Speak frequently at other clubs. Stage time… Stage time
  • Become familiar with the venue: The lights the sound the stage. Try to get a view of the audience from the speaking area before you are introduced to speak.
  • Expect the unexpected. Take advantage of it where possible.

 

Humor Speech Writing & Delivery

Add Humor to Every Speech You Deliver

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1. People remember what they “see” in their minds. Keep that in your mind as you craft your opening. Craft your setup and followup with your punch line.

2. Begin with a Strong Opening with a theme that would resonate through the speech from the beginning to the end. – The scarlet ribbon effect.

3. Make the opening your Premise or theme of the speech – make it the foundation on which the speech is built.

4. Check your I to You- Ratio – Try to find a balance between the use of I and you.

5. We have experiences in our every day that are stories waiting to be told. In your everyday human experiences, you will find some of your best stories. Use them.

6. Use humor in your speech to make a point. Make a point, tell a story or tell a story to make a point. If the point can make your audience laugh, then you made your point.

7. Use follow-up lines (tagging) to provoke additional laughter or if laughter doesn’t follow what you thought maybe a funny line, tag it.

8. The punch-line is simply changing the expectations of your audience. Take your audience in an unexpected direction.

9. Don’t confuse your audience. A confused mind does not laugh. D. LaCroix.

10. Observe ordinary facets of life. With the right amount of observations, it can become your humor gold mine. Keep and maintain your own story file

USE SPEECH BRIGHTENERS TO CREATE HUMOR

A Speech Brightener is a passing humorous reference or an extraneous observation woven into the main body of a speech or remark in such a way that it doesn’t interrupt the continuity of thought.  A speech brightener differs from a joke in many respects. A speech brightener goes with the flow of the speech to emphasize the point the speaker is seeking to make. If the speaker says in his or her opinion something is foolish, they might add that it is as foolish as ……. and select a suitable analogy to emphasize his or her point that would introduce some welcome humor into the remarks. Usually, a speech brightener is fast and would normally catch your audience by surprise. It is a well know fact that surprise is one of the most important elements of humor.  Here are a few examples:

I am the kind of person or He is the kind of person or She is the kind of person

Who is often called a cynic –  I think other people are as bad as I am. 

Who may not always be right – but I am never wrong. 

Who believes nothing is impossible – if I don’t have to do it myself.

Develop your own speech brighteners. Use them especially in “table topics”. Your audience may see you as a kind of person who has more than meets the IQ.

COMPARISONS also make excellent speech brighteners: Here are some more starters: As  BAD As – As GOOD As –  As CONVINCING As – As FOOLISH As.….

 

10 Tips to Control Nervousness

A Prepared Speaker Should Never be Nervous:-Dr. R. Smedley

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Feeling some nervousness before speaking to any audience is natural and even healthy if you can channel that nervousness.  Some nervous energy can show that you are passionate and care about what you are presenting to your audience. Too much nervousness will detract from your performance.  Your physical preparation is a very important part of your Preparation and Practice.

10 Tips you can use to control your nervousness.

  1. Know The Room: Become familiar with the speaking are before you are called to speak. The view from the speaking are is quite different from the audience view or the view from the back of the room.
  2. Know You Audience: Meet and if possible greet some of your audience as they arrive. This can help you connect with them as you look out into the audience.
  3. Know Your Material: In the words of Dr. Ralph C Smedley “ A prepared speaker should not be nervous”. Nervousness will increase if you don’t know your material.
  4. Relax: Get on your feet, stretch a bit before taking to the stage.
  5. Visualize yourself giving your speech: Harbor positive thoughts. Visualize yourself being successful and you will be successful.
  6. Think Positive: Audiences don’t want you to fail. Smile and they will smile back at you.
  7. Don’t apologize: Don’t call attention to any of your slipups. Those slipups may very well have gone unnoticed.
  8. Focus on the message: When you focus on the message, your attention moves from your anxieties outwardly towards your message and your audience.
  9. Turn nervousness into positive energy: Add vitality and enthusiasm to harness your nervous energy.
  10. Gain Experience. Experience Builds confidence: Grasp every opportunity you get to SPEAK. Grasp every opportunity you get to EVALUATE. That is the key to becoming a better speaker.

How to Keep Your Audience Engaged

Record & Listen to Your Voice

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Do You Know The Sound of Your Voice

Tips on How to Keep Your Audience Engaged

Keeping your audience all begins with the sound of your voice. If you do not have any variety in your voice, you run the risk of sending your listeners to sleep. Your speech content may be excellent. It could match your audience’s needs very well but unless you deliver it in an interesting way, few people will actively listen.   A one-flavor-fits-all voice is boring. It turns people off. An expressive energized voice keeps them tuned in. Vocal Variety is very important when presenting. Record and listen to your voice.

What is Vocal Variety:

Vocal variety refers to the way we use our voice. It is a combination of the following elements: pitch, tone, volume, and rate. They are all equally important.

Pitch:

To understand pitch, think of the high notes and low notes you use when you are singing a song.  Everyone’s voice has a natural pitch – your natural speaking voice. Women’s tend to be higher than men’s. Everybody has a pitch range – the number of we notes habitually use. When that range is very small, the effect is monotonous.

Tone:

Tone refers to the emotional content carried by our voices. It is not the words themselves; it is more about ‘how’ we say them. To speak expressively is to fill or energize our words appropriately.

Volume:

How loudly or quietly you speak is called volume. Some people are habitually loud and others quiet, regardless of their speech content. Vary your volume as you speak. Think of it as if you are consciously playing with the volume control on a device. Silence is also very important. Silence sends the message. (DBrooks)

Rate:

The term ‘rate’ refers to speaking pace. How fast or slow do you speak? Speaking rate matters because how fast or how slow you speak alters the listener’s perception of your topic.

Exercises:

The more you can relax and enjoy playing with voice exercises which you can find online, the more you will get out of them. If you have a recorder, use it. Often what we think we are doing with your voice is very different from the reality. A recorder helps you hear where you need to put in more work to achieve your goals.

Martin Joo’s Speech Registers

Be original -Be You
You are the Only You!

 

The concept of registers has been around for a long time. We use registers consciously or subconsciously in our everyday language. Register refers to the variations we use in language which reflects the particular situation, the expressed goal of the communication or the relationship between the speakers.  The following are Martin Joo’s five communication styles or Speech Registers.

Frozen:

Printed, unchanging language, ultra-formal, almost scripted phrases that do not vary. This is standard business and educational language which features complete sentences and specific word choice, often contains archaisms.  This style of communications RARELY or NEVER changes.

Examples:  The Bible, Pledge of Allegiance,  Preamble to the US Constitution, Lord’s Prayer, laws, “set” speech which is often scripted.

 

Formal/Academic:

One way communication, no interruptions, used in impersonal, formal settings, one-way in nature, follows a commonly accepted format – complete sentences, more complex syntax and specific word usages, exact definitions are important, technical vocabulary; often used to show respect. It is often used to show respect. Word selection is more sophisticated and certain words are always or never used depending on the situation.   Informal register, the story structure focuses on the plot: it has a beginning and ending, and it weaves sequence, cause and effect, characters, and consequences into the plot.

Examples: Rhetorical statements and questions, standard for work, school, public offices and business settings, speeches, pronouncements made by judges, announcements, introductions between strangers

Consultative:

This is a standard form of communication. Users engage in a mutually accepted structure of communications. It is professional discourse.  Formal register used in conversation.  Societal expectations accompany the users of this speech.  This register can be described as two-way participation, professional setting, background information is provided (prior knowledge is not assumed), interruptions and feedback fillers allowed (“uh-huh”, “I see”), more complex syntax, longer phrases.  Sentence structure need not be complete, since non-verbal assists, hand movements and body language, are often used to convey meaning.

Examples:  Doctor: patient, lawyer: client, lawyer: judge, teacher: student, superior: subordinate, counselor: client, colleagues, peers, when strangers meet.

Casual/Informal:

The language used in conversation with friends.  The casual register is characterized by a 400- to 500-word vocabulary, broken sentences, and interruptions common. Very informal language, idioms, ellipsis, and slang are common, no background information provided, “group” language – must be a member to use, interruptions common, context and non-verbal communication important, word choice in general, and conversation is dependent upon non-verbal assists.  The focus of the story is characterization.  It is an episodic, random approach with many omissions and does not have a sequence, cause, and effect, or consequence. Casual Register for a group of white suburban teenagers is quite different from the casual register of a group of African Americans, or a group of Native Americans.  There would be differences in vocabulary (slang), grammar, intonation and usage and the differences might be quite fluid, changing often.

Examples: conversations, chats, and blogs with friends and acquaintances, family, teammates.

Intimate:

These communications are private. It is reserved for close family members or intimate people. It is non-public, intonation as important as wording and grammar, often a private vocabulary full of codewords.  Interesting to note: this is the language of sexual harassment as well.

Examples:  husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, twins (siblings), pets

 

 

 

Visionary Communication

Make Your Good Better And Your Better Your Best

A Toastmasters Journey

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Public Speaking For All Occasions – From sun up to Sundown we communicate, some better than others. It is my hope that with this blog, we are able to raise an awareness to the importance of painting word pictures as we speak.  Over time, this type of communication will become a natural part of your everyday communication.  Come join me on a journey into the world of Visionary Communication.

Let us begin: A good place to start is by identifying your communication strengths as well as the areas you need to improve starting with your instrument – Your voice – have you discovered your tone of voice.  Your pace, your pitch and the importance of silence in your delivery. Silence sends the message.

Next, it is important to define your communication goals. What you want to achieve and how you will know when you have achieved it.  That’s when you move on to making each goal you have achieved permanent through practice.

  • Recognize the elements of a basic speech structure -Starting and ending strong.
  • Balance preparation and spontaneity in your delivery – Be natural – be you.
  • Demonstrate self-confidence – Make your speech a kind of silent conversation.
  • The ice-breaker worksheet is a good place to start – It is your roadmap to success.

ORGANIZE YOUR SPEECH

 The four elements of a good speech or story:

  • Interesting topic ( Your Anchor)
  • Opening – Strong -Direct-Positive
  • Body (V1 V2  V3 *V=Vignette)
  • Conclusion (Your Take Away Message)

Give your speech an opening, body, and conclusion to effectively communicate your overall purpose. When we communicate we must have a purpose. Also, we should begin to develop our own formula.  For Example, a formula for an ice-breaker could be – Where I was – Where I am – Where I am heading. The purpose is to begin revealing yourself to your fellow members.  You may want to share a little-known fact about your heritage or hobbies of yours.  Conclude with a funny or interesting anecdote that relates to your desire to become a better speaker.  Every Toastmaster’s journey begins with their first ice-breaker – a speech they will always remember even long after their journey has ended.