In my last article on tongue twisters, I mentioned how much they can help with your speaking development. Tongue twisters are sentences that are hard to pronounce when you speak really fast. The reason they are hard to pronounce is that they have words that have similar sounds. Here are a few I found on the internet for you to try as you begin to develop your own. Try the following tongue twisters: Start slowly and develop speed as you progress. They will also help develop the muscles we use when speaking.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish, but if you wish the wish the witch wishes, I won’t wish the wish you wish to wish.
Bubble bobble, bubble bobble, bubble bobble
A sailor went to sea to see, what he could see. And all he could see Was sea, sea, sea.
Sally sells sea shells by the seashore. But if Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore then where are the seashells Sally sells?
If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?
Wayne went to Wales to watch walruses.
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, FuzzyWuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy
How much wood could a wood chopper chop, if a wood chopper could chop wood?
I thought a thought. But the thought I thought wasn’t the thought
I thought I thought.
Double bubble gum bubbles double
Lovely Laura loves lucky Larry.
A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk,
but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
Spread it thick, say it quick!
Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
Spread it thicker, say it quicker!
Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
Don’t eat with your mouth full!
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
if Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
wheres the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
Whether the weather be fine
or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot.
We’ll weather the weather
whether we like it or not.
How many yaks could a yak pack – pack if a yak pack could pack yaks?
Don’t trouble – trouble, until trouble troubles you! If you trouble – trouble, triple trouble troubles you!
Editing your speech can be both a painful and rewarding exercise. Careful editing can make your copy cleaner and your prose sharper. To get the best out of writing and rewriting your speeches, you must take your own work seriously. Seldom do you write or say exactly what you wish, on your first or second rewrite. It is my hope that you will find these tips as helpful as I have while editing. I too believe good speeches are written – great speeches are rewritten.
Avoid clichés that are common and overused. Aside from being indicative of lazy writing or speaking, they are rarely used correctly and even when they are, they rarely make sense. Who throws out “the baby with the bathwater” today”? Would you “cry over spilled milk” – “at the end of the day” and yes are you still “going the extra mile”. You may get a chuckle or two for some of these clichés, however, you may want to be more current. Those expressions are outdated.
Repetition not used intentionally for effect should be avoided. Check your copy carefully for how many times you have used your favorite words or phrases. Increase your vocabulary. Go to your thesaurus to look for synonyms – words or phrases that by word association would be more pleasing to the ear. Learning how to make the best use out of synonyms and antonyms will prove to be extremely important for all kinds of purposes when writing and rewriting your speeches.
Modifiers like “very big” get old quickly. How about “gigantic”. Use a noun that does the work of an adjective. The most common problem with the use of modifiers is where you place them. Specifically, modifiers can cause confusion or unintentional humor in a sentence when they are placed too far from the noun they are modifying. Reducing your work count by replacing entire sentences with a single word or two works great. Also, seek out those two for one-word opportunities. Every word counts. Less is more.
Examine the beginning of each sentence. Varying the lengths of sentences can be very effective. When writing personal stories, try to limit the use of “I” over and over. Count the number of times you used “I” in your copy. Try shifting the focus from “I” to “you” with a question or a “you statement” focusing on your audience. Be more inclusive.
Have fun rewriting some of your old speech. Rewriting makes your speech writing clearer, more powerful and can make your good speeches great.
How do you prepare for Table Topic is often a concern of new and seasoned Toastmasters. How can you prepare for answering questions on a wide range of subjects with confidence – How do the pros do it? Well, I am told, they keep it simple. They keep calm and carry on and here are a few of their secrets they – Practice the art of passive listening: Listening without reacting: Allowing someone to speak, without interrupting – Silencing the noise in their head. Not doing anything else at the same time – Not an easy skill for some of us to master
Stay up to date on current events: While it is impossible to be knowledgeable about every topic under the sun, they stay on top of local, national, International news and trends. Staying informed is always an excellent preparation idea. They are passionate and their ideas are original.
Make impromptu speaking part of their everyday conversations: Like the pros, we too face all kinds of questions and topics every day. They use them as opportunities to practice. They tell personal stories. You too can make your friends and family your audiences. They will be none the wiser.
Learn from the pros, they keep it simple. Practice these few skills daily and you will develop wit, natural humor and a repository of topics to draw from. Like a well-developed muscle, you will begin to respond like they do to any topic you face. They listen attentively to decide if it is a question or statement. They repeat the topic silently to themselves. They pay special attention to the keywords in the question or statement. Usually, that is when their gut instincts kick in with their POV – their “Point of View”. You can always tell because that is when you see them smile. They don’t fight the feeling they go with the flow.
In a Toastmasters setting, you should wait until the Table Topics master has left the speaking platform. Buy yourself some time. Wait until you have the full attention of the audience. Assume your speaking posture then begin your response by paraphrase the topic followed by your “POV or the Hook” you will use to reel in your audience. Forget the salutations, dive right into the topic. Add a twist to the subject matter. Give two examples or “for instance” – summarize and make your call to action, where applicable. It is that simple.
Table Topic can be a fun and rewarding experience. Make impromptu speaking a part of your development as a speaker. It is all about revealing the authentic when you are in the moment. Whether you are in an interview, club meeting or on a stage, if you are prepared to be honest and to be yourself, you too will be able to respond like the pros to any question or statement “off the cuff”. Have fun with Table Topics and remember these words of Dr. Ralph Smedley the founder of Toastmasters: “we learn best when we are having fun.”
Toastmasters International Table Topics have a time range of 1-2 minute. The Greenlight at 1 minute- Yellow light at 1 minute, 30 seconds – Red light at 2 minutes.
Evaluating a speech in a club setting is a little different from evaluating in a competition. In a club setting, before you begin to evaluate the speaker, the evaluator should first become familiar with the objectives of the project. Every Toastmasters project has a stated set of objectives. It is important for the evaluator to observe the speaker and evaluate his or her presentation based on the project’s objectives and not the objectives the speaker has not yet completed. Meet the speaker where they are presently on their journey.
In both settings, the evaluator should evaluate the project based on what they saw, what they heard what they felt. Not what they wanted to see, wanted to feel or wanted to hear. Everyone reacts differently to a speech. Your evaluation should consider how the speaker and the speech affected you and the audience. Focus more on how the speaker and speech affected you using “I” statements as you recall the strengths of the speaker and the speech. Evaluate any problems you observed and make sure to offer a suggestion.
In a club meeting setting, the evaluator should state the objectives as part of the speaker’s introduction. Did the speaker follow the objectives, is one of the questions the evaluator should answer. Details to look for and comment on are, was the speaker nervous? Did the speaker use eye contact, vocal variety, and gestures? How was the speaker’s energy? Was the speaker sincere, passionate and knowledgeable about the topic? Highlight the positive and give the speaker no more than two items you observed that can benefit the speaker in future projects.
When you are a contestant in an evaluation contest, make yourself a template or Speech Evaluation Work Sheet to use as a guide. While all of the items above apply in a competition setting, you must answer one very important question. What can I do to be different from the rest of the field? This is not the time to be a coach. Start with the speech title, the opening, the body and the conclusion emphasizing the message. It is that simple. End on a positive note and remember whether you in a club meeting or competing, we evaluate to motivate. Evaluations are your gift the speaker. Evaluations are the heart of the Toastmasters educational program.
In the Toastmasters world of public speaking, timing is everything. The 5 to 7-minute speech is our Gold Standard. Icebreakers are usually 4 to 6 minutes long. Fast speakers speak fast; however, not everyone happens to be a fast listener. To ensure speakers remain within their allotted time when delivering an icebreaker, it is best to write a 5-minute speech, for delivery in 6.30 minutes. For a 5 to 7 minute speech, write a 6-minute speech for delivery in 7:30 minutes.
The average speaking rate of most humans is between 120 to 140 words per minute. Therefore, it is important for every speaker to calculate his or her own personal speaking rate. In order to find your personal speaking rate, select a passage from a famous speech. Read it as if you are delivering that speech using pauses and vocal variety. Read for one minute. Time yourself. Your word count will be the number of words you read from the beginning of the passage to your last word at the one-minute mark. If your average rate is 130 words per minute, your word count for an icebreaker should be approximately 130×5=650 words – average.
Once you have calculated your speaking rate, you should gather your Readability Statistics. When using MS Word Readability Statistics for Writing, you will need to have grammar checking turned on. Microsoft Word’s readability scores are based on American audiences and Word’s grammar checking. These statistics give speakers an idea of the readability of their content. They also provide general rules that can be useful when editing your written material.
The Readability Statistics facility in Microsoft Word includes:
Counts: Count the number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences in the document.
Averages: Averages the number of sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word.
Readability statistics: Calculates the percentage of passive sentences in the document, Flesch Reading Ease score, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
A grade level of 5-9 is recommended for general readers. A grade level of 7-12 is acceptable for industry and technical writings. Remember as you edit, you are writing for the ear and not for the eyes. Edit to make your speeches conversational. Stay on time. That is and will always be the Toastmasters Gold Standard.
Great speeches like a beautiful picture have many attributes in common; a strong opening, a compelling story, a magic moment and a memorable closing. They start strong. Some “break the ice” with humor. Others prefer a powerful statement. History has shown, the stronger your first impression, the easier it is to keep your audience’s attention from your beginning to the end.
All speeches must have a rhythm to convey your message. Speakers should use a mix of short and long sentences to communicate that message.
Clear and concise language makes it easier for your audience to understanding the story and go with the flow of the speech.
All sentences should be short enough for delivery within one breath.
The words used to communicate each sentence should be rich with imagery and emotion to take your audience on a journey into the heart of the story.
Total Body language matters as much as the spoken word. Use body language to move the story forward. Audiences can subconsciously notice even the smallest body movements that are not coordinated with the spoken word. Your smiles and eye contact can go a long way to convey your message. Speakers should practice the delivery of their first smile or first words to establish a connection with your audience. When audiences like you, they are more inclined to believe you.
Great speeches should all have a magic moment; a memorable event that recalls some detail of your speech. The positioning of your “Magic Moment” is also very important. It should be the highlight of your speech. It should appear to be natural and not over-rehearsed or disconnect to your message. Your speech should flow like a conversation with each sentence perfectly crafted for your audience. Nonverbal communication you receive from your audience should flow like a silent conversation between you and your audience.
Speakers should strive to allow their speech to feel like a personal invitation for each member of your audience to participate. It should capture their attention while validating your message with looks or smiles. If you can achieve all of these qualities while thoroughly entertaining your audience, you will have a great speech worthy of being delivered to audiences for all occasions.
Your words and body language must be in sync with your message.
When we speak, we send two kinds of messages to our audiences. While your voice is transmitting a verbal message, a vast amount of information is visually conveyed by our appearance, manner and physical behavior – why because our actions often speak louder than our words.
Research shows that more than half of all human communication takes place nonverbally. When we speak, listeners base their judgment of us and our message on what they saw, heard and felt. Our audiences often remember what we were doing when we said what we were saying. In public speaking, your body can be another very effective tool for adding emphasis and clarity to your words. It can also be your most powerful instrument for convincing an audience of your sincerity, earnestness, and enthusiasm.
Your physical actions must agree with your verbal message. If your actions are distracting your body language can defeat your words. Whether the purpose of your presentation is to persuade, inform, entertain, motivate or inspire, your body and the personality you project must be appropriate, not only to what you say but also, to how you say what you said. Your words and body language must be in sync with your message for it to resonate with your audience.
If you want to become an effective Public Speaker, you must understand how your body speaks. While you can’t stop sending your audiences nonverbal messages, you can learn to manage and control the negative and to accentuate the positives. With practice, you can learn how to make your body speak as eloquently as your words once you understand your body language and your actions speak louder than your words.
“Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
When we speak, we involve our listeners with our eyes to make our presentation more direct, personal and conversational. One sure way to break that communication bond is by failing to look at your audience. No matter how large your audience may be, each listener wants to feel a sense of personal connection with you the speaker. With your eye contact, you can amplify your voice and the conversation exponentially.
In some cultures, the act of looking someone directly in the eyes is a symbol of sincerity. In several studies, it was noted that speakers who established eye contact were judged to be more truthful, honest and credible than those who did not. By looking at your listeners as individuals, you can convince them that you are interested in them and that you care whether or not they accept your message. This technique of making eye contact with every audience member as you speak of your is often referred to as the art speaking one too many. With practice, it can be mastered.
Eye contact can also help overcome nervousness. When you look at your audience and realize most are interested in your message, that instant feedback can decrease nervous tension if any exist. Not only do your eyes send vital messages while you are speaking, they also receive feedback to let you know how your audience is reacting to your message. By watching your audience’s reactions, you can make immediate adjustments to your presentation. Your eyes can also be your “Control Device”
After your voice, your eyes are the most powerful tool when communicating. Use them to amplify your message. Engage your audience with eye contact. With time and practice, you will develop the ability to read your audience reaction as you speak and develop the ability to tailor your words accordingly. Develop your eye contact and will become a better communicator and a more effective Public Speaker.
In the world of public speaking, tell a story to make a point or make a point by telling a story, is a well-known secret that has helped many speakers with their development, however, how you tell that story will often determine if your audience gets the point.
The story you chose to tell must have left a significant impression on you when you first heard it. Perhaps it made you happy, sad, angry, surprised or even disgusted. You may have also learned a very important life lesson from that story. Whatever it was that made you choose that particular story to make it worth repeating, to make your point has to be rediscovered if you want that story to have a similar effect on your audience.
You may have heard that story three days, three months or even three years ago. However long ago you hear that story, it must have left a profound impression on your life. The challenge is for you to share what you learned with your audience. If you can get your audience to want to take some significant action at the end of your talk, speech or presentation, then you and your story have made your point.
What’s your story? As you tell your story, try to focus on giving your audience that same experience you had when you first heard your story. As you tell that story try to transport your audience to that time and place when you had your experience. Take your audience with you to relive the experience. Take them on that emotional journey you had with word pictures as only you can recall.
Our lives are the sum total of the stories and experiences, we have lived, relived told and retold. When we make a point by telling our stories, or tell our stories to make a point, we are sharing some of the most intimate and unforgettable experiences we have, heard, seen and felt in our lifetime. By sharing those experiences, you are letting your audiences know who or what we truly are not only as a speaker but also as a person.
Public speaking is an art and not a science, however, over the years, I have heard many coaches caution – Watch your “I To You Ration” – the number of times you use I vs you, especially when telling your personal stories.
While it is OK to deliver your personal stores in the first person, there comes a time when you should make a U-Turn, simply because if you don’t, history has shown you risk losing your audience. Even a personal speech should not be all about you, it should also be about you and you, your audience.
Much of what we share in our speeches is personal. Things we did, things we saw, things we felt. As a result, we all have a tendency to overuse the pronoun I, even when a better connection can be made with your audience if you were to Make a U-Turn. Turn some of those “I” moments into “you” moments to include your audience in the picture or scene you are developing. If you do, you will make a better connection with your audience.
An effective technique when considering a U-Turn is the use of dialogue or questions to engage your audience. Here is one example from one of my speeches:
“Have you ever lost your glasses, when they were right here (in your hands) or perhaps it was your wallet! And as if that was not bad enough, you lost your mind and ask one of your kids – the smart one – did you see my wallet? Only to receive the answer that would make any saint a sinner – Where was the last place you left it. Daddy!!”……
Try turning some of your scenes into a silent conversation between you the speaker and you the audience. Make a U-Turn after I moments. That too can also be very effective. Don’t focus on ratios, focus on your art in the context of your speech. Observe the difference in the connection you are making with your audience as you continue to develop your art and the art of making better U-Turns.