All Things Toastmasters!

All Things Toastmasters! (21)

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Fillers like: um, uh, y’know, like, so, etc. If not, what’s some advice for accomplishing this?

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Toastmasters International Sample MeetingThe short answer is ‘yes’, it can help do that. However, it doesn’t follow that just by joining Toastmasters you will become proficient at not using fillers. Like any other skill, you have to practice, you have to receive constructive feedback and you have to act upon the feedback.

In my club, Kelowna Flying Solo ToastmastersKelowna Flying Solo Toastmasters, I assign all new members the role of Ah Counter as their first official meeting role. I believe that to extinguish fillers in your oral presentation, you first have to be aware of them. After a new member has taken on the role a few times, they start to become aware of them in their own speaking.

To facilitate the ah counting we provide the Ah Counter of the evening a form to keep track of what they hear and make it easy to deliver a report. The following info is mentioned on the form:

<<Helping members off their crutches. The purpose of the Ah-Counter is to note any word or sound used as a crutch by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Words may be inappropriate interjections, such as and, well, but, so and you know. Sounds may be ah, um or er. You should also note when a speaker repeats a word or phrase such as “I, I” or “This means, this means.” These words and sounds can be annoying to listeners. The Ah-Counter role is an excellent opportunity to practice your listening skills. It is unnecessary to report someone with no ums, ers, etc.>>

The 2016 World Championship of Public Speaking wore his underwear over his suit. This gets attention, yes. But is this what people should strive for in their public speaking? Really?

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Have you pushed an envelope lately? How about pulled one?This is a question that leads to an opinion-based answer, rather than a definitive yes or no answer.

I’ve chaired some 30 or more speech contests at the club to the District level in my Toastmasters career. In my introductory comments I usually factor in the comment “Toastmasters speech contests are for those that want to challenge themselves. The cream rises to the top …” Or something to that effect.

I usually also mention that there are at least two contests going on here. At the one level, we are choosing a winner of this speech contest, who will rise to the next level of the contest and represent us. But even more importantly to me is the fact that each of our contestants is in competition with themselves. They are stepping out of their comfort zone and challenging themselves to do the best they can. Whether they win or not, they will be better speakers for it.

I haven’t seen the video yet for the 2016 World Championship of Public Speaking. I’ve seen almost all of the last decade or so that have their videos posted on Youtube. In watching the videos, it becomes evident that as a speaker and a wannabee champion, you have to stand out in some way from your competitors.

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What do you think are the best topics for an entertaining speech?I don’t believe that there is a definitive answer to this question.

The best entertaining topics would be determined by the situation and the needs and the interests of the specific group, at a specific point in time.

That might sound confusing! The speech has to be appropriate. For example, years ago at a Toastmasters club humour contest, I heard a young woman as part of her speech ask us “Do you remember when you lost your virginity?” She did and proceeded to tell us about it.

It was funny and definitely an entertaining story. Perhaps in a pub, sharing beers with others, but not in a Toastmasters club. There were family members in attendance. The club President was mortified.

If I was invited to deliver an entertaining speech to a group, I would want to know why the group was gathering in the first place and if there was a theme. Knowing the theme is a good starting point.

I believe entertaining speeches are difficult to craft. What one person finds entertaining, another may not. They may find it offensive. I also believe that for a speech to be entertaining, you the speaker need to be a character in the speech. You can tell a story third person but it adds to the entertainment if you play a role.

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Ever been to a Toastmasters meeting? You should!To start off I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the presumption in the question that Toastmasters is a social skills course. It isn’t. Toastmasters members do learn social skills by participating in the program but it is not a specific learning objective.

As a 22-year member of Toastmasters, so far, I continue to benefit from my membership.

I started off as a shy, quiet introvert. I’m still an introvert but am in remission with my shyness.

Toastmasters has served as a catalyst in helping build my self-confidence which has opened up numerous opportunities for me that would never have been available to me.

Once I was terrified of public speaking. Now I speak in public regularly delivering seminars and talks on my specialties. I have an emcee/event organizing business. I never saw that in my future.

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How important do you think speech communication is in the business world?Whether you are in the B to B (business to business) or the B to C (business to customer) sector, speech communication is quite important to the success or your business.

When we think of speech communication in regards to business, we likely think of having to deliver a prepared speech promoting our business. That is one example, but there are actually many more ways that being an effective public speaker can enhance your business.

At the basic level, we have our elevator pitches. I recommend you develop 30 second, 60 second and even ten minute versions of your self-introduction. These may be delivered to one person at a time, or as part of a larger group introduction. I have likely introduced myself hundreds of times. I was more confident and effective when I had prepared/practiced my pitch in advance.

I have seen countless numbers of people stumble over their self-introductions. We are told not to judge a book by its cover, yet we do it all the time. When we see somebody stumble over their self-introduction, we are left wondering about their credibility and whether they are worth getting to know better. On the other hand, when we hear an effective, enticing self-introduction, we are more likely to be curious or open to speaking to the individual at a later time.

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How would you talk about yourself in the 3rd person?Interesting question! Of the hundreds of speeches and presentations that I have delivered, I don’t think that I have ever delivered a speech, in the third person, about myself. As for writing self-promotional copy in the third person, yes, lots of it.

I think one of the initial challenges in creating this type of speech is that it is an uncomfortable topic for many of us. Certainly it is a topic that we know more about than any other person in the world, but actually saying it out loud and sharing it with others is challenging. It relies on a certain amount of assertiveness and self-confidence.

Many of us have been told from an early age that we shouldn’t talk about ourselves because nobody likes a bragger. I quite often refer to the quote from Walt Whitman, American Cowboy Poet “If you done it, it ain’t bragging!”

How you create your speech and the content that you include, depends on what your purpose is. Are you speaking to inform, are you speaking to entertain, are you speaking to promote yourself, or is this merely an exercise to get you thinking out of the box?

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shy?Like any thought-provoking question, there likely isn’t a definitive answer. This one, as others, would likely fit into the “it depends” category.

Let me preface my comments with sharing that I am a 22 years and counting member of Toastmasters, Past District 21 Governor and a Distinguished Toastmaster. I wouldn’t say that I was painfully shy when I joined Toastmasters but my shyness did limit me significantly.

While I can’t recommend a Toastmasters club enough for its ability to help increase your self-confidence, your poise, your communication & leadership skills and in time a reduction of one’s shyness, it isn’t an automatic effect of joining a club. You don’t learn public speaking by osmosis. You actually have to speak and incrementally improve your skill and self-confidence.

The same applies to reduction of one’s shyness. If you join a Toastmasters club with the expectation that they will solve your shyness problem, then you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you join with the express purpose of reducing your shyness and a self-directed plan to do so, you will likely be successful.

Our Toastmasters club officers take on their leadership role in one year increments. They are learning on the job as they practice servant leadership. I would expect that few of them have any practical experience in helping a shy person move forward. I have encountered far too many people, which tend to be extroverts, say “Just do as I do! That’s the right way!” When helping someone overcome shyness, it isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ scenario.


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