Your Foundational Statements

Great speeches are not written – they are Rewritten!

3866033Your Foundational Statement will often determine success or failure when writing your speech. That statement can be a short sentence or catchy phrase.  It can be a humorous or provocative statement, shocking facts or rhetorical questions. Whatever you choose, it should make your audience think, “Wow! – That’s interesting, tell me more.

Most speeches generally have an introduction, a salutation, discussion, and conclusion.  Your introduction should grab your audience’s immediate attention. It should clearly identify where you are taking your audience. You should also try to make your opening relevant to your audience. Audiences are always more willing to pay attention if they can relate to your subject matter. While a salutation is always optional, if done well with sincerity, it can help you make a better connection with your audience.  

Next, you should go into what I call the Discussion phase of your speech. Here is where you give your audience reasons to buy into your point of view with facts and figures. Be the expert by presenting your material with natural excitement, and strategically placed humor. Establish your Foundational Statement. Tell a story to make your point or make your point by telling your story. Personalize your speech. Use vivid language and remember the rule of threes when qualifying your references. Once you are sure that you have made your point, don’t repeat yourself, move forward. Get to the Conclusion, keep moving forward,  You can recall later.

Telegraph your conclusion to let your audience know you are closing. This can be done with a simple phrase – “My fellow Toastmasters” – “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Summarize the main points. Repeat your Foundational Statement.  Recall what you told your audience in your introduction and discussion phases Finally, you should leave your audience with a call to action. If you are sure that your closing will leave your audience with a burning desire to take some action in the minute of silence after you have concluded, STOP! you are done, however, remember great speeches are not written – they are rewritten. Now you must edit your speech until you have a tight final copy that is ready for delivery.

The Power of Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters can be fun!

HipstamaticPhoto-481376334.599027 (1)A tongue twister is a sequence of words, sounds, phrases or sentences that can be difficult to articulate clearly, especially when repeated quickly and often. One example of the power of tongue twisters and how they can be used to correct speech impediments was featured in the movie – The King’s Speech.

In that movie, tongue twisters played an import role in helping Prince Albert who became King George VI in real life overcome, his stammering. One of the tongue twisters used in his therapy sessions was the following, “She sifted seven thick-stalked thistles through a strong thick sieve.

” The original King’s tongue twister:  “I have a sieve full of sifted thistles and a sieve full of unsifted thistles because I am a thistle sifter.”  Tongue twisters can be fun. Some focus on the letters A-Z, sounds or alphabet. The following are a few of my favorites.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

    If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

            Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

************

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck

If a woodchuck could chuck wood?

       He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,

        and chuck as much wood, as a woodchuck would

if a woodchuck could chuck wood

************

There was a fisherman named Fisher

who fished for some fish in a fissure.

        Till a fish with a grin, pulled the fisherman in.

Now they’re fishing the fissure for Fisher.

***********

How much ground would a groundhog hog,

if a groundhog could hog ground?

              A groundhog would hog all the ground he could hog,

if a groundhog could hog ground.

                                                                           ************

If you are having problems with articulation, or stammering, try tongue twisters.  Make them a part of your warm up exercises even when you are preparing to speak.

How to Develop Vocal Strength

Proper Breathing is the Foundation of a Healthy Voice

Cork2In speaking, breath control is of supreme importance. Therefore, all speakers should give some time and thought to the development of their natural speaking voice. In order to find your natural voice, you will first have to correct your breathing. To secure control of your breath, the following physical conditions must be maintained.

  1. Correct Posture
  2. Free (loose) neck, throat and shoulder muscles
  3. Correct inhalation of breath
  4. Controlled emission of breath

Begin by taking deep breaths – In through the nostrils, out through the mouth. Proper breathing is the foundation for a healthy voice and control over nervous energy that can make your voice quiver.

One of the best exercises to strengthen your voice is the cork exercise. All you need is the cork from a bottle of wine. Start by placing the cork lengthways in your mouth. Read a passage from a book. Read a  poem or try speaking with the cork in your mouth. The idea is to get the speaker to begin strengthening the muscles we all use daily when speaking. Breathe naturally as you speak. 

To take this exercise to the next level, cut a groove into the side of the cork as shown above. Bite into the cork, to let the groove fit into your upper front teeth. Repeat the same readings you did earlier, however, this time you are opening up even more. The objective is to achieve as much clarity as possible as you speak with the cork lodged in your teeth. I would highly recommend you do these exercises in private.

Do these exercises for two to three minutes per day. After a month for sure you are going to see a marked improvement in your diction, enunciation, and resonance. Your voice is your instrument.  To keep it turned, every now and again, put a cork in it.

Breaking the Ice

Icebreakers are not one and done

IMG_1980 (1)The first speech a new member of Toastmasters or any organization delivers is called the Ice Breaker. Ice Breakers give speakers the opportunity to begin speaking with confidence on familiar topics. It also provides them the chance to start developing their model for the preparation and delivery of future speeches.

Icebreakers provide a variety of choices. You may introduce yourself to your fellow club members. You may wish to speak about what brought you to the realization that you needed to improve your public speaking skills. You may choose a topic or cause you are passionate about.  However, the allotted time for an icebreaker is four to six minutes. A time limit that should be respected.

That set time limit has a specific purpose. It is designed to condition speakers to focus on a structure, economy of words as well as getting a feel for working with timers without having to concentrate on their devices. With time, you will begin to feel your green, yellow and red lights when you are on the platform. Therefore, discovering your speaking rate is very important. Calculate the number of words you speak by merely reading a passage is one standard method. For more information on that subject go to the resources page of  http://www.davidbrookstexas.com

For my icebreaker word count, I use the following manner:  (4 to 6 -1 =5)  5 times my wpm (words per minute) giving time for pauses and laughter.  My word count should be between 600 and 650 words. For speeches that are 5 – 7 minutes I use. (5 to 7 -1=6) 6 times my wpm which gives me a word count of about 750 to 780 words.

While there is no single recipe or formula for preparing a great speech, there are a few fundamental ingredients that can make your presentation memorable. Focus on your format. As you continue to become more comfortable with your structure for icebreakers, in particular, you will notice a natural tendency to approach your future speeches in the same manner as you do icebreakers. Icebreakers are not a one and done.  In time, they will be your default model for preparation and delivery of your speeches. The more you practice them, the better you will become as a speaker.

The following are a few additional tips for preparing icebreakers.

Where I was, where I am and where I’m going is one of those “hip pocket” icebreakers you can give at any time with very little preparation. If your scheduled speaker is absent, take the opportunity to practice. Keep an Icebreaker evaluation form handy at all times.

Make your opening remark a Foundational Statement. It is the foundation on which you will build the rest of your presentation.

Your greeting to the audience should follow the make a point, tell a story or tell a story to make a point format. For your Vignettes V1, V2, and V3. Remember, less is more. Use no more than three Vignettes. V1 -Transition -> V2 -> V3 -Time permitting.

Establish a phrase in V2 that will be the memorable phrase or statement of your speech. That statement is called your Magic Moment. Every speech must have one.

Signal to your audience you are closing on your V2 if you have only two Vignettes, If you have a V3 do it on the V3 – i.e., My Fellow Toastmasters.

Restate your foundational statement at the beginning of your closing and summarize your main point as you proceed with a call to action if appropriate.  Don’t thank your audience, your audience thank you for your presentation. Mr. or Madam TM is fine.

Stand and deliver is an excellent delivery approach for beginners. Move the material you prepared from your head to your heart and the hearts of your audience. Let your words dictate your body language. Build on the speaking skills you already have to establish your formula or receipt that you will use as you prepare and deliver your future speeches.

How do you Listen

Listen to Understand and Speak Effectively

Shh!! SilenceHow we listen, is an essential skill all speakers must develop, however, it is a skill that can be developed with practice. At almost every Toastmasters meeting, members and guests get the opportunity to answer questions. Even when some guests decide to take a pass on the Table Topics questions, we usually get visitors at the end of the meeting to at least comment on what they heard, saw and felt at the meeting. Yes, we make sure that no one shall escape speaking at a Toastmasters meeting. We listen to understand and speak effectively,

While most members and guests tend to focus on answering the questions, I have found that if you use the Table Topics segment to practice and develop your listening skills, even when you are not the one called upon to answer any of the questions, you may find this portion of the meeting, extremely beneficial to your development as a listener and speaker.

As a first step, we should try to analyze what we do subconsciously when someone else is speaking. Many of us begin preparing our answer, just waiting to begin speaking. The experts claim that most likely we learned this behavior as children and perfect it as adults. When this approach is used, the result is all forms of miscommunication, misrepresentation, and misinterpretation in our responses. Yes, all the misses. Relationships are also affected by this approach when communicating in business and social circles.

An excellent approach I found to correct this method of listening is to try to understand the meaning behind the question. Paying attention to body language used by the speaker will often help clarify the meaning. I am sure you have heard it said many times, actions speak louder than words. Shut down the internal noises in your head so the incoming messages from the speaker can be received clearly. Focus on the body language used by the speaker. Again, the experts claim the spoken word accounts for only seven percent of our communication.So happy I am not an expert.

It is quite natural to have some anxiety when faced with questions. Using your standard mechanisms to control nervous impulses is a good starting point. Breathe! Where there is breath, there is life. Stabilize your heart rate. Experts believe that deep breathing is the right approach to move the noise from your head to your chest. Give it a try. It should not hurt if your focus is breathing and listening. You should feel calm.

Begin your response by using what I call a silent icebreaker. Set the mood by using your body language to express how you were affected by the question. Use facial expressions silently, as you playback what you believe the speaker meant when he said what was said. You have the six emotions to play with here. Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust.

Once the speaker has stopped speaking, it is now your turn to speak. Paraphrasing, what you heard is a good place to start. If there is agreement about the understanding of the question, you should be off to a good start. By that time, you should be at ease to address what you saw and felt. Now that is exactly why it is so important to work on your listening skills. It sets the stage for a good answer. What you saw and felt along with your words and body language, should satisfy any Table Topics Master at your club meetings or at those testy Table Topics sessions at home.

Twenty – Ten & One Belly Roll

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Writing humor is no joking matter.  One of the most difficult things to do is to try to analyze humor, to determine why it will make an audience laugh.  Laughter itself is an emotion.  It is an emotion built up to a certain pitch, then released suddenly to create a surprise.  While there are some subjects that lend themselves easily to humor, a combination of acting funny and good humor will often earn you a nod of approval from your audience and judges.

A good barometer to keep you on track is your laugh count. Whenever  I am  asked what is my formula for preparing a successful  five to seven humorous speech, my answer is  always the same  – 20-10-1 – In a five to seven minute try to fit at least twenty laughs, ten chuckles and at least on belly roll into your content.  Laughter should also begin from the first minute of your presentation.

I arrived at this 20-10-1 formula, after a World Champions of public speaking asked me to keep count of the number of laughs he received as he delivered a keynote address. I was so fascinated by the experience, I then did the math and, arrived at an average laugh count of at least twenty laughs, ten chuckles and one belly roll. After testing my theory and found that although more is better at least a -20-10 -1- laugh count works just fine.

There are three techniques which will help you increase your laugh count.  The first is tagging.  Tagging prolongs the laughter by just adding a word or two to provide additional information to a previously delivered humorous line. Your tag may have no real connection to the main humorous bit. It might just simply be a funny addition which makes the laughter continue.

The second is “speech brighteners”. Speech brighteners can generate a “quick laugh”. “Speech brightener” requires no setup and does not interrupt the flow of your speech. It merely emphasis a point or provides a change of pace. The whole idea behind a speech brightener is to catch you audience off guard and to achieve one of the most important elements of humor, surprise. For example: “Believers, love your enemy. It will drive them crazy!”

The third is wit; the ability to make clever off the cuff remarks. No one can predict what or when humor will generate laughter, however an unexpected chuckle from your audience can be an opportunity to get witty.  A witty saying may produce very little but they all add to your laugh count. I offer you my 20-10-1 formula, however, keep in mind all audiences differ, their reactions are not always the same and it is your tags, brighteners and wit that count.

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Stand and Deliver – Move with a Purpose

Movement keeps your audience engaged.

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If as much as 60 percent of our communication is nonverbal, and our entire body communicates more to our audience than the spoken word, it is important that we include in our preparation how we stand and how we move when we are on stage or the platform.

Movement attracts and keeps your audience engaged. Your entire body communicates its own visual message to your audience. Your posture and how you move or even sit, communicate to your audience whether you are confident, alert or if you are in command of the platform. Sitting and speaking will be addressed in another article. This article is about how to stand and deliver and moving with or for a purpose.

Some speakers prefer to stand and deliver while others may choose to use the stage for different purposes. When asked the question, which one works better, my answer is always the same. It depends on the type of speech you are delivering.  When you are standing behind a lectern or podium, obviously stand and deliver would be ab better choice, however when you are on the platform or stage, a combination of both, stand and deliver and moving with a purpose – for a purpose produces better results.

Before you begin your presentation, it is important to decide how you are going to use the speaking area. Becoming familiar with your speaking area to decide how it can be used to your advantage is very important. Your movement should always be in sync with the content of your speech. Some speakers even position parts of their speech at different locations on stage.  At times they would stand and deliver. Move to take their audience to a different time and place. Move to make a connection with the audience as they make a point, or demonstrate a particular action or activity in their speech.

How ever you plan to move on stage takes practice and preparation.  Whether you choose to stand and deliver or move with a purpose or for a purpose, remember why you are on the platform. You are there to connect with your audience. You are there to deliver a message. You are there as the messenger. The stage is yours for a few minutes. You can own it, you can work it or you can use it to your advantage. Whatever you do, never forget to make your movement part of your preparation. If you do, your audience will surely remember what you and your body said, long after you have finished delivering your story or message.

 

Impromptu Speaking

Good speakers know how to Listen

Giving a speech without preparation is challenging. Mark Twain, one of the most celebrated American novelist and essayist, on more than one occasion has admitted, off-the-cuff speaking wasn’t as easy as he made it appear to be. Continue reading “Impromptu Speaking”