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.

 

 

 

What Is A Tall Tale

A short story, true or fictitious!

Blue hills

WHAT IS A TOASTMASTERS TALL TALE

A contest in which contestants present a three to five-minute speech on a topic that is highly-exaggerated and improbable in theme or plot. Once you are a member in good standing, you can compete. There are no other pre-requirements. however, contestants who speak for less than two minutes 30 seconds or more than five minutes 30 seconds will be disqualified

Webster describes a tall tale as a “Narrative of events that have happened or are imagined to have happened.” It is usually a short story, true or fictitious. It could be a piece of information, gossip, rumor, falsehood or a lie. Today we call that “fake news”.

My first competitive tall tale speech contest was in 1999. I entered my first contest after completing four CTM – Competent Toastmaster Manual Speeches – with my speech entitle Hell’s Paradise. That speech took me all the way to District. One of the lessons I learned very early was since your speech must impress your audience as well as the judges, a good place to start is the judging criteria. I also studied the score sheets as I prepared my speech.  I would highly recommend that you pay close attention to the following:

SPEECH DEVELOPMENT: The way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. A good Tall Tale speech immediately engages the audience’s attention and builds to a conclusion. 30 Points

SPEECH TECHNIQUES:  Refers to the use of various tall tales skills, such as exaggeration, irony, pun, humor and surprise twists.  These techniques are the essence of making a tall tale successful. If you skillfully incorporate those techniques into your tall tale, you will be successful.   25 Points

APPROPRIATENESS OF LANGUAGE:  Refers to the choice of words that relate to the speech purpose and to the particular audience hearing the speech. Language should promote a clear understanding of thoughts.  Language should fit the occasion and be in good taste. 10 points

PHYSICAL:   Presentation of a speech carries part of the responsibility for effective communication. Body language should support points through gestures, expressions and body positions. 15 points

VOICE:  The sound that carries the message – Your voice should be flexible, moving from one pitch level to another for emphasis, and should have a variety of rate and volume. A good speaking voice can be heard and the words easily understood. 15 Points

LANGUAGE: Refers to the choice of words that relate to the story. Language should promote a clear understanding of thoughts and should fit the occasion precisely. Proper use of grammar and correct pronunciation will show that the speaker is the master of the words used. 5 points

IN DAYS OF OLD WHEN MEN WERE BOLD:  Tall tale narratives depicted the wild adventures of extravagantly exaggerated folk heroes. Those tall tales were essentially an oral form of entertainment that took audiences on an imaginative invention rather than the literal meaning of the tales.  Associated with the lore of the American frontier, tall tales often explain the origins of lakes, mountains, and canyons. They were spun around such legendary heroes as Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack of the Pacific Northwest; Mike Fink, the rowdy Mississippi River keel boatman; and Davy Crockett, the backwoods Tennessee sharpshooter. Other tall tales recount the superhuman exploits of western cowboy heroes such as William F. Cody and Annie Oakley.

MODERN DAY TALL TALES: Even if you never went fishing, we all have a fish story to tell. The one that got away or even the minion swimming in kid’s aquarium that was HUGE! Tall tales can be an event that took place on any given day in your life.  One of mine entitled “No U-Turn” tells the story of making an illegal U-turn one day on my way to work.   A cop stopped me and asked! I replied-BECAUSE THE SIGN SAID SO – officer  — (cop) Oh – Really – (me) Yes – I wanted to go straight and the sign said “ No .. U … Turn”.  When the cop decided to call for backup with a straight jacket, I had to confess that I was just a Toastmaster practicing my pauses and got a bit carried away – – which she was getting ready to do to me literally. Would you believe, she did not give me a ticket?  What a nice cop.  (Exaggerate!  Exaggerate!  Exaggerate! …That is the key)

Hell’s Paradise was another about companies that were dominating the software market in the eighties and nineties.  Now I do not want to name names but I am sure you too will get my drift even if you were not around back then. One of those companies was rotten to the core,  while the other’s view of the world was, in my opinion, a bit micro and soft.  On that premise, I built “Hells Paradise”.  Was I ever so wrong?  We all got googled by a company of ten, raised to the one-hundredth power. Go figure…  A play on words is also a good tall tale technique.

Look at your life and I am sure you will find many stories you can spin into a tall tale.  If you can get your audience to express that look that says – REALLY, NO. PERHAPS THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE; you are hitting your mark. Take your audience to the edge of the precipices and dare them to believe we are both going to jump but you must go first.  That is when you must give the moral of your story or leave them to figure out the “rest of the story” which is the life lesson we should take away from every Tall Tale.