All Things Toastmasters!

All Things Toastmasters! (21)

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 I'm not comfortable to talk to a big audience (over 50-60 people), and that is my main concern about holding a speech.


As originally posted on


Let me tell you about my book.This appears to me to be one of a classic pain vs gain scenario. Which is better … to feel the pain i.e. the fear of public speaking for a possible gain of increased book sales, further speaking opportunities, increased revenue or not to feel the pain and decline the speaking opportunity?

Declining doesn’t necessarily avoid the pain. It avoids the immediate anxiety and stress of not having to deliver the speech but it opens one up for self-doubt, second thoughts and self-criticism for being a coward for not taking the opportunity.

I find that decisions like this involve emotional and logical thinking to resolve. A fear of public speaking is an example of an emotional response to protect us from feeling the pain. We can back up our fear-protection mode by our logic. “Nobody would want to hear me.”; “I don’t have anything to say”; “it’s all in the book anyways, they don’t need me.”

There are ways however, that we can use our emotional/logical responses strategically to help us make difficult decisions.

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What do you see when you look in the mirror?I’m not a fan of standing in front of a mirror and practicing public speaking. I know it is often recommended, but for me, I found it to be awkward and stilted.

First off, I don’t believe that it is accurate. Sure it has to be accurate, it’s a mirror image of what we are actually doing. But as a mirror image, it is reflecting to us what the audience sees, not what we see. I don’t believe that our brains can adequately process the difference between what we see through our eyes and how the audience sees us.

Secondly, when I was first practicing speaking out loud and watching myself in the mirror and timing my speech, I found that I had countless false starts. I found that all the things I was watching in the mirror were taking away from my concentration on the delivery of my content.

As speakers in North America most of us speak an average of 125 to 150 words a minute. We can pick up the speed a little to 250 words a minute, however we will likely lose most of our audience. They will be unable to process what we are saying and keep up to us. Our minds work at the speed of 1000 words or so a minute.

As originally answered on


TM Club Meeting, We shake hands a lot!Assuming that you are over the age of 18, the undeniable best way to overcome your fear and to become not only a good speaker but an exceptional speaker, is to join Toastmasters.

If you go to http://toastmasters.org and then locate the Find a Club feature. It will quickly tell you if there is a club near you. Guests are usually quite welcome. I say usually because some clubs may be restricted to employees of a certain business. You can also usually check out a couple of meetings to see if it is for you, before you join.

There is value in reading self-help books. I still do and have my own library. The problem with them is that while they may provide you with sage advice, they don’t provide you with the opportunity to speak in public. You don’t learn public speaking by osmosis. You have to get up and speak!

In addressing your fear, you aren’t alone. There is an old hard to find quote, from a book from the 1970s The Book of Lists. In a list of top 10 fears experienced by people, fear of public speaking was number one. Number three was fear of death!

Something is wrong with that. More people would rather die than speak in public? I’ll speak for hours, just don’t kill me!

Sunday, 11 September 2016 01:48

What are some topic ideas for a success speech?

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How would you describe success?Thanks for your question. Its been quite a while since I have delivered a speech on the topic of success. You have fired up my creative juices and I will put creating a speech on success on my ‘To Do’ list.

There are likely hundreds of ideas that you can use for direction if you research quotes on the subject of success. Just take the message from the quote and expand upon it, add your perspective and some examples.

Here are some examples:

“Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to read, but more importantly, what's your plan to read?” -- Jim Rohn. With a quote like this you can go in several directions. The 20-80 formula is known as the Pareto Principal. You could expand upon on that is evident in almost everything we do. It can be said that “success is 20% inspiration, 80% perspiration.”

The quote focuses on the value of reading. Your speech could be crafted around how being an effective reader leads towards success. You could expand upon the how to read to lead towards more success in life. You can expand upon the concept of skills vs strategy. You don’t have to agree with Mr. Rohn, you can craft a speech around disagreeing or proving him wrong.

As originally answered on


How many sets of kidneys has your glass of water filtered through.Here is what I recall as being the most memorable attention getter for me. I believe that it might have been from an article in the Toastmaster magazine on the subject of grabbing your audience’s attention. The presentation was on water conservation.

While holding a glass of water the presenter looked at the glass and then looked at the audience and then took a sip. “This glass of water has gone through eight sets of kidneys before it has collected in this glass. The bad news is that there isn’t enough to go around!”

That opening was attention grabbing on several different levels.

I often start off with a rhetorical question to engage the audience from the get-go. The idea is to answer the audience’s question “What’s in it for me?” “Why should I listen to this speaker?” Being that the question is rhetorical, I’m not really expecting an answer. I’m hoping the audience will be reflective, allowing me to transition to the next stage of my presentation. I also prepare for the eventuality that somebody does actually answer the question and take me in a direction that I don’t necessarily want to go. There are a lot of literal thinkers out there that may not realize that the opening question was intended to be rhetorical.

Sunday, 11 September 2016 00:38

How do I stop shaking when speaking in public?

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Impromptu Speaking before and after. Which describes you?In the immortal words of Jerry Lee Lewis “whole lotta shakin goin on!”.

The ‘shakes’ are merely a physical manifestation of our nervous energy. It ties into the flight/fight reaction. Our body releases adrenaline so that we are prepared to either run away from the stressor or to stay and fight it. In the case of speaking publicly, we are likely staying to fight. By choice! Well, perhaps in most cases.

Not everyone experiences shakes. Equally annoying can be nausea, dizziness, hyperventilation, headache and numerous other somatic complaints. While they are all annoying and perhaps very scary at the time, they serve a purpose. They are designed to keep us safe and out of trouble.

The challenge is in working past these somatic symptoms. In Toastmasters, we often talk about the ‘butterflies.’ These butterflies are the aches and pains we feel in our stomachs at times like when we have to speak in public. It has probably become a cliché, but it still holds true … the secret is to get those butterflies to fly in formation.

As originally answered on


Toastmasters in action! Have you visited a club yet?The # 8 project in the Competent Communicator manual is “Get Comfortable With Visual Aids.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, the idea is to help you gain experience with using visual aids.

I have delivered this particular project fifteen times and have used audio-visuals in dozens of my presentations.

First off, I would suggest forgetting about the need to write a speech that focuses on using visual aids. Rather, you should create a speech that will be even better if you use visual aids to add to your message. Almost any presentation that is educational, instructional or informative lends itself to using visual aids. This project is to get you comfortable with your visual aids. You can only do so … by doing so!

When I first delivered this project, overhead projectors were the technology of the day. We had to learn how to create and copy overheads as well as how to organize them so they were in order. We also had to learn how to place the transparency on the overhead projector and replace them with another without blinding our audience.

In our digital world, audiences are becoming more sophisticated. They expect high-quality visuals to go with your presentation. Handouts are still effective as a way to share your content or provide additional content to what you are delivering. Your handouts should be well prepared and include lots of white space. You will need to decide whether your handout is better passed out in advance of your presentation or at strategic points throughout. I have used both.

Saturday, 10 September 2016 23:35

What makes Toastmasters successful?

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Visit a Toastmaster meeting today!To be able to answer this question with any degree of quality, I think it is necessary to challenge the original assertion … is Toastmasters successful?

I think you have to qualify the term successful. Of the hundreds of thousands of members that have passed through the organization, have everyone of them been successful at achieving their goals? No.

Is Toastmasters the best in the world at teaching communication & leadership skills? Possibly, but probably not. It is however, the undisputed leader of providing inexpensive, effective communication & leadership skills training.

As a 22-year member, so far, I definitely believe that Toastmasters is successful from my perspective. I have leadership experience from the club executive level through to Area, Division, District and Regional.

So what actually makes Toastmasters successful? At the simplest level, I would say that the members do. We are a world-wide organization composed of clubs that embrace culture, ethnicity, diversity, adults over the age of 18 years, etc.

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Should you listen to your audience? Of course!For far too long, many presenters believe that delivering a presentation is a one-way process. The presenter delivers the goods and the audience passively receives them.

It may have been that way once upon a time. Nowadays, audiences have higher expectations of presenters. They expect the presentation to be interactive and they expect to be able to ask questions of the presenter.

The basics of communication is as follows: A delivers a message to BB receives it and responds to A. If B doesn’t receive the message in the first place, communication hasn’t taken place. If B does receive the message but chooses not to respond to A, then communication has occurred but A does not receive any feedback.

When presenting i.e. communicating to your audience, listening to your audience is only one of the tasks that you need to be doing.

The most obvious reason to listen to your audience, at least to me, is to ensure they are awake. Snoring is a good clue that your presentation and topic aren’t as exciting as you would believe. More than one audience member snoring is even a more startling observation. Not in my presentations of course … but I have seen it many times in others.

As a presenter you need to listen to your audience and perhaps direct your presentation to meet the audience’s needs, not necessarily yours.

as originally answered on

A Leader Takes People where they never go on there own.Theoretically, you could. I am sure that many speech/presentation coaches have done so. Likely though, they have recreated the content so that it is in a new format. I have done so.

Using the material for what you are suggesting is copyright infringement. Toastmasters International has a well-developed brand and should it be brought to their attention that you are using their material without permission you may very well receive contact from their Legal Department with a cease and desist order.

This begs the question … if you find the Toastmasters material to be of value, why wouldn’t you want to do something about getting a Toastmasters presence in your college?

If your town is big enough for a college, it is big enough to support one or more Toastmasters clubs. There are likely local clubs and experienced members that would love the chance to expand the local Toastmasters membership by helping develop a new college club.

They have the experience to get your club up and running. They will also support your new club for a year or so to help get it established.

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