Opening To Close

Do you close to open or open to close.

800px-Broadway_BridgeWhen you are preparing to deliver a speech what are your goals? Do you focus on choosing a topic that will grab your audience attention, or do you focus on choosing an opening that is strong enough to open or close? I often go with the latter and have had my best results when I choose an opening to close. Let me explain.

While your topic selection should always be an attention grabber, your opening and closing more often than not will determine if you are able to connect and hold the attention of your audience from beginning to the end of your speech. Whether you decide to write out your speech or use bullet points, your opening and closing should be so well rehearsed and internalized, you should be able to spontaneously deliver both at will to open or close your speech.  Your opening and closing should also have an intimate relationship with each other. Your closing can be a call to action or callback to your key points. Whatever you decide, your closing should relate in some way to your opening. It is for that reason I recommend that you close to open or open to close. Give it a try. 

When you prepare for your next speech, write out your ending first. Condense that ending into a single sentence to make that sentence your opening statement.  That statement should short and profound.  Give it a try and if it doesn’t work for you the first time, this one is not water under the bridge. Like the bridge above, with each try at a new opening, you too will discover new ways of opening to close.

The Value Of Quotes

Goals in Writing are Dreams with Deadlines – Brian Tracy

pexels-photo-290150.jpegQuotes strategically placed in stories can brighten speeches.  Over the years, I have amassed a collection of small books with quotes which add value to the point of my stories.  One of those books which I treasure is a thirty-two pager written by Brian Tracy entitled “Excerpts from The Treasury of Quotes”.

This book was given to me many years ago by a fellow Toastmaster. It contains one hundred and fifty quotes taken fresh from Brian Tracy’s journals, lectures, and audio recordings.  Each quote relates to some aspect of everyday life. Some of the topics addressed are attitude, possibility thinking, belief, desire, decision, character, integrity, honesty, and goals to name just a few.

Quotes I often use in my everyday speaking which sometimes ends up in my speeches are – “Your attitude is an expression of your values beliefs and expectations” – “Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other” – “Integrity is the foundation upon which all other values are built” and –  “Think before you act and then act decisively – Fortune favours the brave”.  All valuable quotes that can brighten your stories

One word of caution, make sure to always give credit to the author of your quotes. To quote Brian Tracey – “Truthfulness is the foundation upon which all other values are built” – And finally one of my favorites Tracy quotes? “Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines”.

Start building your own library of little books with quotes that will not only brighten your everyday communication but will also be the brighteners in your speeches as you discover, the value of quotes.

 

 

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.