Timing Is Everything

Fast Speaker or Fast Listener

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 For All Occasions

Speeches must have a rhythm

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 Unnecessary Words

pexels-photo-890550.jpegOne of the best ways to find your – (SOs, THATs, BUTs..etc )  all those unnecessary words you add to your speeches, is to convert your written copy – your copy for the eye, to a copy for the ear. When you write your speech for the ear, those unnecessary words seem to jump out at you. You may also notice they are used more frequently at the beginning, or at the end of your sentences.

Converting your speech from – written for the eye, to a copy for the ear is simple. If you are using Microsoft Word, cut and paste your speech as written, to create a second copy. Add lines to that second copy – (Go to Page Layout – add lines continuous) Next, edit each sentence as the line will be delivered.   Add markers,,,, for pauses and look for opportunities to re-edit the speech for a more natural delivery.

Here is an example from one of my speeches entitled – Lost.

LOST

Ever lost your keys or your wallet, and as if that was not bad enough, you lost your mind and naively asked your kid, the smart one with all the answers “did you see my wallet” only to get that dreaded response-that would make any saint a sinner.  “Where was the last place you left it, daddy”. ……

Edited  For the Ear

1. Ever lost your keys,,,,, your wallet … And

2. as if that wasn’t bad enough,,,,

3. You lost your mind,,,

4. naively asking your kid,  the smart one with all the answers,,,,

5. “did you see my wallet”

6. only to hear that dreaded response

7. that would make any saint a sinner,,,,,,

8. “Where was the last place you left it, daddy”……..

Review both copies, the copy for the eyes and for the ears.   Strike out all your unnecessary words also replace your UM’s and AH’s with a breath. Make them silent UM’s and Silent AH’s.  After you have done this exercises a few times, you will notice a big change in your delivery. You will also begin to realize, unnecessary words only add time and very little value to the delivery and quality of your speeches.

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.