While Toastmasters International abandoned the tradition of fall contest in humorous speeches our district wisely decided to have the conference anyway. And the lack of official overseer opened new opportunities. For example, for first time ever, we could have contest in Czech and Slovak languages.
You might ask, what good is such a contest to an English-speaking club? Being where we are, we naturally have quite a few Czech speakers. And for some of them, including yours truly, this is exciting new challenge. Therefore, I tried competing with a speech in both languages.
This yielded me benefit already at Area level. When Bjorn whipped out his awesome English speech, at least I managed to advance to next round with the Czech version. The help of the club did not come to waste, as most of delivery skills do not need change between different languages. Thus, I could spread the glory of Brno at the district conference as well.
And it was well worth it. At the glamorous international event, among fierce and numerous competitors the humorous speech landed me third place. Every medal counts and it is nowhere written that glory of Brno Business Toastmasters should be limited to English.
Autumn contests are something else and I am so glad our district wants to continue the tradition of humorous contests. From the moment of arrival people in crazy costumes were setting the mood worthy of the event name- Spontaneous Laughter 2019.
As usual they were highly amusing workshops. “How to tell stories with graphs” was very relevant to all of us from informatics careers. Second one imprinted in my memory was on emotional expression of English speech. Having an actor reveal his skills and making us all practice intensively by the end was quite intense.
Finally, the contests. Brno was very visible. In Czech speeches there was a premiere at that competitive level by yours truly. Coming out third in the “as if proper” round was both encouraging and alarming. In a month the big finals in Bratislava are coming and I will work on bringing some trophy from there as well.
However, highlight was Bjorn’s performance in English speeches. What was loose at Area level he tightly knit together into very cohesive speech with wonderful callbacks escalating until the very end. Without taking away any steam out of his jokes. Bjorn earned well deserved gold for that and we are both looking to Bratislava on 30th November.
It was on the Sunday of 25th August that we gathered, for third time already, to watch and rate World Championship of public speaking. Those who need their Toastmastering fix even on Sunday got what they deserved. The pomp of the most exhilarating conference was felt even if we only observed those six finalists that reached the peak of public speaking. We consumed the thrilling experience of competition, but also went beyond. Toastmaster grows on feedback and giving feedback to excellent speaker is class of its own. That is why, just like last year, we had one evaluator for each contestant to cast serious or not so serious advice to the people who advanced to the top. Watching the best and rating them by us, nearly the best, yielded interesting comparison on preferences between judges in Denver and here. Be it similarities or differences, conclusions were amusing.
Attendees of biggest Toastmasters conference leave impressed by how many lives do Toastmasters touch. Although we weren’t there personally, thanks to the streaming event we were touched as well. See you again next year!
Special thanks to McDermott club for helping hand with video rights.
My work and life in general becomes overly demanding and this means that I need to start saying “No” to people or situations to find balance and not get overwhelmed.
Many times I need to say “No” to protect my interests without compromising the relationships in which I invested time and effort to build, so it needs to be a positive No. There are many ways to say “No” and we usually fall in one of the following traps:
We ACCOMMODATE and Say “Yes” when in fact deep down inside we wanted to say “No”. We end up scarifying ourselves for others and even if we regret it, we end up doing the things we don’t want to do.
We Say “No” in an AGGRESSIVE manner without caring about the relationship or consequences of our answer. This usually leads to broken or harmed relationships and might turn against us later on.
We AVOID by not saying anything at all. We simply ignore what was requested hoping it will just disappear from our radar.
None of the three approaches is the best way because you either use the power & risk the relationship either care about the relationship but neglect & sacrifice yourself.
Then what’s the right way you’ll ask. The answer is simple. You need to say “No” in a way that you care about yourself and others using the “No sandwich”. The strategy is simple:
Think What are you willing / can do
Say No giving a reason
In other words when you want to say “No” think about what can you do given that what has been asked from you is not an option which will be the good news, then say why you cannot do what you’re asked to do which will be the Reason and be emphatic.
To give you a brief example:
A colleague asks you for help in putting together an Excel report with some statistics today. Using the NO Sandwich you could say
“I’m really sorry I have a lot of things on my plate today so I cannot help you with it however I can send you the links to the documentation I used to learn how to put together this report.”
Don’t let yourself overwhelmed and start using this technique today, you’ll see it’s a great way to consider yourself and others!
Giving a talk in another language has a lot of challenges. Not only do you have to generate ideas which you want to share, but it is also necessary to arrange them in a way they are comprehensible to the audience. A useful tool to make you sound clearer are discourse marker and linking words. These expressions show relationships between your ideas and your attitude to them.
One of the many categories are discourse markers which indicate the beginning of the talk, such as well, so, right, now, anyway or to begin with. They are typical in less formal situations and everyday conversation.
Another group shows the order of your ideas. Starting with first, for a start, to begin with, you may list additional points introducing them with phrases such as next, in addition, what´s more, further or on top of that. For your final point and the conclusion you may use finally, last of all, all in all and to sum up.
Further, speakers often need to show the cause and effect in their arguments and descriptions to provide justifications and explanations. This can be achieved with linking expressions, e.g. so, (in order) to, therefore, since and because, suitable phrases, e.g. as a result or the reason is, and verbs, e.g. leadto, cause or result in.
The last category I would like to mention are commenting adverbs which express the speakers´ attitude to what they say. These range from evaluating the content (basically, naturally, obviously, surprisingly), to describing probability (certainly, hopefully, no doubt) and a personal involvement (personally, if you ask me). Nevertheless, as commenting adverbs contain a subjective view, it is better to avoid them when an impersonal or factual style is required.
On the whole, discourse markers and linking words contribute to the clarity of your speech and they can also improve your style. They may help you avoid complicated constructions on the one hand and repetitive statements containing numerous instances of “and” and “so” on the other.
This article was created thanks to the cooperation with Tutor Language school – Branch Brno.
“Toastmasters have changed my life!”, could definitely be the slogan of Josef, a devoted member of Brno Business Toastmasters (BBTM).
Nowadays Josef is an experienced public speaker: not only can he deliver speeches fluently and persuasively, but he has been also pursuing his leadership career as PR manager, organizer of meeting and evaluator.
We asked Josef (AKA Pepe) to answer a few questions about his beginnings, fears at the beginning and experience he has gained along the way. Feel free to share this article in your social circle!
Can you please present yourself in a few sentences?
Currently, I’m a programmer, but I have studied both IT and law. I love to learn new things even out of school. Currently, I’m focusing on studying new languages, in particular Spanish.
How did you learn about Toastmasters? Why did you decide to join particularly Brno Business Toastmasters?
I encountered some courses on the topic of public speaking at the university and wanted to follow up on that. Then, at my first job, I encountered a colleague who invited me to visit a Toastmasters club. This brought me to a BBTM meeting.
How would you present Toastmasters to someone who has never heard of it?
I do that quite often. Usually it goes like: “It is a place where you can speak or present in front of an audience and get evaluations. It is quite professional and organized. Also, we’re totally not a cult.”
Do you remember your first speech, evaluation and table topics?
I do quite distinctly remember all three of them. My first speech was called “Cards of my life” and revolved around using few cards (ISIC, playing cards for marias, credit card) to introduce myself to the audience. First evaluation was for Simeon’s icebreaker, where he spoke about his personal growth. My first table topics speech was in an amazing session where we didn’t draw separate topics, but instead the speakers were telling a story that evolved on the go. It was the first time I got to use a prop that has become my trademark – a screwdriver. Also, it was absolutely horrible performance. I feel I’ve learned a lot since then.
What are your strategies to cope with stress and nervousness before or during a speech?
Find a way to look forward to the speech. Prepare a small joke somewhere during the speech, a hidden remark, a funny gesture.. anything that works for you. Perhaps more important factor is preparation. I can’t stress this enough – if you want to have a great speech, it won’t go without a great amount of preparation, training and drilling. I have rather perfected the art of preparing a speech in a minimized amount of time, but sometimes this minimalistic preparation leads to feeling uneasy and unsure of myself.
What are 3 crucial factors for continuous progress of public speaker?
Determination, friendly environment and time.
You have been a member of BBTM for more than 2 years. What experience you have gained along the way?
I’ve clearly learned a lot about public speaking. However, I believe that far more important is the leadership part. Every role has taught me something, but each role is nothing when compared to Toastmaster. When I took upon that role for the first time, I discovered how tough it is to set up a meeting. On Saturday all roles were filled, including the minor ones. Then, on Sunday, people started rejecting the roles with various apologies. Until Tuesday morning I kept calling the member and I pretty much begged them to take the roles. In the end it worked out and the experience brought me a lot.
Members of Toastmasters clubs can also take officers roles e. g. as PR managers, education managers or membership managers. Which roles have you already had and what did you learn through this experience?
VPPR (managing club PR), where I realized it taught me a lot, but that the role was also highly time demanding.
Sergeant at Arms, which I’m currently doing, is better suited for me, as the time requirements outside of the meeting are minimal. Honestly, this isn’t a role where I could learn much, as it is more about the stuff that is repetitive and just needs to be done. It isn’t without its advantages, however, as it lets you carry around the banner, which looks incredibly cool.
Can you name some unique events or stories you have experienced thanks to being part of Toastmasters family?
Since I’m a rare breed of programmer, as I like speaking in public. That means I’ve represented our company on few prestigious events – Backendisti (a developer meetup) and Webexpo (a large developer and designed conference). There were a few conferences I’ve attended or helped organize. As for the stories it is largely related to people rather than to the Toastmasters family itself, but there were few parties or other events for sure.
Some people are scared of coming to meetings because they are not sure about language skills or are afraid of public speaking in general. What would you recommend to do in order to overcome the fear?
This is a tough one. I’ve spent my last two years trying to find the answer for this question, but it keeps eluding me. When I find it, I will let you know.
Providing feedback is not an easy job: there are many pieces of advice on that so how can be distinguish the good feedback from valuable one?
The most important is to remember that feedback is a tool; a tool that indicates when things are going in the right direction or when a change of approach is needed to get you towards the right one! This tool can praise, can motivate, can make people proud and happy but can also tear them down and make them never ever wanting to have a speech again or do the same activity for which the feedback has been given.
With valuable feedback we want to provide a honest reaction in a constructive manner to the speaker’s efforts so that he feels empowered and motivated to grow.
Let’s review 6 tips I consider the most important to make our feedback valuable:
Know what you will evaluate in advance. If it is going to be a manual speech make sure you read the assignment, focus on the objectives and also ask the speaker prior to the meeting if he wants you to focus on something in particular. If it is any other role think about what are the important aspects of that role. As in any speech you can apply the general good speech practice: clear message, structure, body language, vocal variety, eye contact.
Be positive – inject as much as possible positivity without overreacting with it. A well known strategy is the criticism sandwich (popularised by the quote from cosmetics maven Mary Kay Ash):
Sandwich every bit of criticism between two heavy layers of praise!
Be honest – if you didn’t like something in speaker’s performance do not say you did. Provide an honest opinion without making it negative as it must be considered a point that can be improved rather than a weakness.
Be specific! If the speech organisation was confusing at one point, say it but clearly address what confused you and offer a specific suggestion for improvement. Ideally pick the particular confusing part and rephrase to what you would consider clearer.
Avoid judgement words and phrases such as “good speaker’s don’t…”, “that was a wrong thing to say…”, “if you want to do it right you should”, etc.
Be mindful about your delivery. You are giving your opinion, friendly, direct in a non-threatening manner. When you conclude make the speaker walk away from the meeting motivated, eager to begin working on his new project. End on a positive note that helps build self-esteem and self-confidence by mentioning something you really liked or had an impact on you.
You can definitely find a lot of information online on Toastmasters.org and remember every time you deliver an evaluation what is important: to know what you are evaluating in advance, to be positive, honest, specific without judging and to be mindful about your delivery.
It happens very often to talk to newcomers and try to inspire and motivate them to join Toastmasters. My first reason why they should join (and why I am still here) is always about the safe environment where you can practice and deliver whatever type of speech or presentation that you need for your job, career development, school project or even job interview.
The job interview sells well given our guests are people looking for opportunities and most of them are interested in find something better/something new in their professional career.
So how true is it? Do we really have the freedom to speak about whatever we want or whatever we need?
Definitely YES! The Speciality Speeches Advanced manual is the proof that Toastmasters thought about everything! Let’s see what this manual covers in the 5 projects it has in more detail:
Project 1: Speak Off the Cuff
The interesting aspect of it is that the speaker needs to prepare in advance 5 general topics areas with which he/she is familiar and give them to the speech evaluator before the meeting. He or she will randomly select one of them and the speaker will have to deliver a five- to seven-minute impromptu speech on that subject.
It is a great combination of impromptu-and-prepared speech as you can prepare in advance what the 5 topics will cover but it can always become impromptu at the moment when the evaluator picks the topic and you maybe suddenly think about it differently than before.
The objectives of this speech are to:
Develop an awareness of situations in which you might be called upon to deliver an impromptu speech.
Understand how to prepare for impromptu speaking.
Develop skill as a speaker in the impromptu situation by using one or more patterns to approach a topic under discussion; for example, comparing a past, present, future situation or before and after.
Project 2: Uplift the Spirit
The purpose of this project is for the speaker to present an eight to ten minutes speech designed to rephrase the emotional consensus of the audience in terms of their beliefs, values and sentiments and in a language and style appropriate to the occasion. The topic can be selected from the following categories: keynote address, political presentation, stockholders meeting, trade association or union meeting, sales convention rally, testimonial dinner or organization banquet, sports rally, sales rally, religious service hence offers quite few options!
The objectives of this speech are to:
Identify and understand the basic differences and similarities between inspirational speeches and other kinds of speeches.
Learn how to evaluate audience feeling and establish emotional rapport.
Develop a speech style and delivery that effectively expresses inspirational content by moving the aud
Project 3: Sell a Product
Sooner or later we all sell something! This project of 10 to 12 minutes requires the speaker to present a sales speech. The talk should be convincing on logical, informational and emotional levels and should be delivered in an extemporaneous manner. The focus of the talk should be the selling of a product or of a service. You may want to review the text of this project to be familiar with its objectives.
The objectives of this speech are to:
Understand the relationship of sales technique to persuasion.
Skillfully use the four steps in a sales presentation: attention, interest, desire, action.
Identify and promote a unique selling proposition in a sales presentation.
Be able to handle objections and close a prospective buyer.
Project 4:Read out Loud
The purpose of this project is for the speaker to present an interpretive reading from a literary work. Using rules of interpretative reading such as making effective use of voice, rhythm and body movement, the speaker should create an auditory and visual experience for the audience.
To make sure it is clearly understandable for oral presentation it is strongly advised to record and hear your voice or practice the reading to several different audicences before giving the presentation at the club meeting.
The objectives of this speech are to:
Arrive at an understanding of the elements that comprise oral interpretation and how it differs from preparing and giving a speech.
Learn the preparation or planning techniques of effective interpretation.
Learn the principles of presentation and develop skill in interpretive reading with regard to voice and body as instruments of communication.
Project 5: Introduce the Speaker
Probably the easiest of all for any advanced communicator as it requires to be the Toastmaster of the meeting, fulfilling the function of that position for the club meeting!
Apart from the objectives it is good to remember to keep the introductions brief, within one to three minutes, and to adhere to the following guidelines:
The Opening: Capture the audience’s attention and emphasize the importance of the speaker.
The Body: Why this speaker? Why this subject? Why this audience? Why this time?
The Conclusion: It should lead to your actual presentation of the speaker.
At the end of the meeting, briefly thank all the speakers, and then introduce the Chairperson, who will conclude the meeting. Remember that you are the intermediary between the speaker and the audience. When you have completed your introduction, welcome the speaker with applause. Wait until the speaker arrives on stage and greet him or her before returning to your seat.
The objectives of this speech are to:
Focus on the special occasion talk from the standpoint of the introducer (function chairman, toastmaster, master of ceremonies).
Become knowledgeable and skilled in the functions associated with the master of ceremonies
Handle the introduction of other speakers at a club meeting
Definitely one of the very exciting manuals to use for your speeches!
Brno Business Toastmasters organizes Humorous speech contest on 20th of September 2016. Have you never heard about it, but wish to compete? Here are some basic rules.
Your first question might be: How long should I speak on the stage? Humorous speeches, similarly to other projects from Competent Communicator, last for five to seven minutes. A contestant will be disqualified if the speech is less than four minutes 30 seconds or more than seven minutes 30 seconds.
Are you wondering, if there are some rules or restrictions when choosing the theme? Here are some tips!
The subject for the Humorous speech shall be selected by the contestant. The speaker shall avoid potentially objectionable language, anecdotes, and material. The speech must be thematic in nature (opening, body, and close), not a monologue (series of one-liners). In other words, try to avoid just telling jokes you heard somewhere.
Use of props is more than recommended!
Contestant who win at BBTM Club Contest Competition proceed to next rounds. At the end, they might compete even at competition organised globally! Do you think its impossible? Our member, Jaro Kováč, successfully represented our club at international level. He finished as second in the world (and it was really close!). Nothing is impossible.
Please take a look on Judges Guide and ballot to see, which criterias are the most crucial:
Welcome to recap of business speech given by our member Alex for his project #7. The project is about researching a topic and introducing the results of the research to the audience. Alex has kindly agreed to post his speech on the blog. Enjoy.
Two Village’s Leadership
In his speech Alex used flipchart to show us graphs in order to support the speech. The photos of the flipcharts are added to the speech.
One day a tired traveler came to one country. There were 2 villages. They made their living by breading the sheep and selling wool and milk. He observed life in the country and noticed a very interesting thing. He noticed how people in the villages bred sheep and recognized some differences. In one village shepherd went in front of the flock (group of sheep), in the second village shepherd followed the sheep. The traveler was interested whether there are different results in both cases. He found out that one village collected in average 20% more wool than the nother. In fact all the rest was the same: same sun, same grass, same water, the difference was only in the approach. What do you think – which village had better outcome?
Let’s have a look on both cases in details. In fact we are talking not about sheep but about different approaches in leadership.
Model 1. Leader goes in the head of the sheep. Commonly used approach.
Shepherd goes first and all know who the leader is.
He knows the road and the goal. He sees threats and decide how to overcome it.
He manages time, defines pace, decides halts, ect.
Flock recognizes him as a leader, and does nothing without his order.
Shepherd doesn’t know where the best grass is, the sheep feel it by some unknown way… but they can’t go there because they are led straight. So sheep loose energy instead.
Shepherd looks forward to check the road but has to look back very often to have feedback and understand what is happening with the sheep (control). For example wolves or some sheep get tired and fall down. It is not comfortable.
Pace. If leader goes faster, older animals get tired and have to run instead of feeding.
All above factors impact (adversely) quality of the wool and milk.
Model 2. Leader follows the sheep.
He sees and can control everything: the sheep, road ahead, potential threats.
No need to turn back as in the case when shepherd leads the group (useless exercise).
Flock goes through the best landscape, selects best food and keeps right pace for the older and younger animals.
Even more importantly, the leader delegates.
We all know: if you want something to be done, do it by yourself, because no one can do it better (wrong perception). In this case we have a manager that can’t go on vacation, sits at the office looong hours and sacrifices own life balances (family)… and even if he goes to vacation… he is always on the phone – solving some routine… because people stop working.. no one can take responsibility, can’t work without his request, recommendations..
Chart 2: 4 quadrants
1. Shepherd goes first (weak control – weak delegation)
2. Shepherd goes last (strong control – strong delegation)
3. Anarchy – no control – people delegate only responsibility 🙂
4. Despotism – full control – no delegation
Based on proposed two scenarios, the best place for the leader is to follow the group.
Delegation and control
Leader has time to think (about new areas, developments of business and people)
Leader’s main actions are: supervise, motivate team, teach people… encourage.