Converting Guests To Members
Do you often have guests visit your club and then not come back the following week?
Perhaps the guest is confused, or doesn’t fully grasp how a Toastmasters meeting works.
Here are some suggestions to help encourage your guest to return, and perhaps even join, your club.
Make sure the guest is made to feel welcome. Ask your guest what their expectations are when they attended the meeting. Were they looking for a particular set of skills? Invite the guest to ask lots of questions and endeavour to answer as many of them as possible.
Exchange contact information with the guest. Make sure the VP of Membership saves the contact info on the guest page in Free Toast Host. Remind the guest to accept the opt-in message so you will be able to stay in touch.
Send the guest copies of the Digital Guest Packet, the Pathways Flyer, a Membership Application and a link to the Toastmaster Magazine. Then, the following week, email them the agenda and Zoom link by writing an email to “guest-[club#]@toastmastersclubs.org”
By extending this personalized invite, the guest will feel welcome and be more inclined to join your club.
Remember, dialogue is key. The more you converse with your guest, the more they feel welcome, and the more chances you’ll have of converting that guest into a member.
Louise Bark (Gavel & Glass)
Golden Opportunity to Travel the World
Fellow Toastmasters! Global lockdown has opened up the world to us. We can participate in meetings all over the world through our computer connections. Where would you like to make new friends and learn about the culture from friendly locals? Go to the TI website and click on “Find a Club.” When you identify one that looks promising, contact them and ask to attend a meeting. Brush up on your international time zones and start traveling.
I am a member of 1 for U KSS Toastmasters in Toronto, but I live near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, where my home club is Lift Every Voice Toastmasters. And we would love to invite you to our meetings every first and third Saturday from 11am to 1pm—same time zone and reliable internet connection. It’s an easy way to start your world travel. I look forward to meeting you! Please reach out to our club at Lifteveryvoice@hotmail.com
Beverly Wise (1 for U KSS Toastmasters)
Jan 25, 2022
The Power of Visualization
For a long time I believed that visualization meant closing your eyes and imagining what something would look like, but this practice can be much more than just a picture in your mind. When rehearsing your speech use these visualization techniques and engage as many of your senses as possible.
While preparing to deliver a more casual speech I like to envision my one friend in the audience who I know always laughs at my jokes.
TIP: Anchor yourself by hearing and seeing your audience’s reactions. This can sound like laughter or look like people smiling or nodding in agreement.
When rehearsing for a more formal speech, I draw inspiration from the famous Ted Talks platform.
TIP: Picture yourself with the charisma of a professional speaker, and dress accordingly. Imagine the lights are illuminating you perfectly like a ring light; getting all your best angles in view.
When practicing your final closing sentiments, imagine the impact you will have for sharing such incredible information through your storytelling skills.
TIP: Hear the applause at the end of your speech, and picture yourself giving a standing ovation in the crowd.
Channel feelings of joy and pride in a job well done throughout your presentation and it will help remind you that the nerves are temporary. Some experiences are worth the butterflies in your stomach.
DISCLAIMER: Do not substitute visualization techniques for actual rehearsal and preparation. Your mileage may vary.
Mia Gonzales (Orange Nation)
January 10, 2022
Ever felt embarrassed by an impromptu speaking moment or felt like you bombed an interview questions?
I know I sure have. Here is one tactic I revert back to – the STAR method.
Having this in your back pocket will help you prepare when asked to speak with little to no preparation!
And remember to breath!
Christina Pedius (Humber Shores Club)
January 10, 2022
How to own Zoom: Tips to Engage your Audience so they can’t click away
Zoom and other video platforms have become the norm over the past 2 years but so have the number of distractions one faces when audience members are on their computer. See below for a few tips on how to engage your audience:
- Warm up your voice & body.
- Speak directly to ONE person.
- Speak beyond the lens
- Start with a personal story right off the bat.
- Be thoughtful around your appearance (including your Zoom background).
- Don’t try to be perfect
Aneeta Pathak (We Communicate Best Toastmasters club)
November 24, 2021
Deer in the Headlights
Undoubtedly, all of us have faced this special kind of paralysis once or twice or on a regular basis. When delivering a speech at Toastmasters contest or making that make or break presentation at work, the best way to get out of the “Deer in the Headlights/ I forgot the next word in my speech” paralysis is by reminding yourself that your audience has no idea what you were going to say or what your exact words were going to be. Remind yourself that you are in power and the audience is in your captivity!
Marinka Ranasinghe (TECS- Toronto Engineering Club of Speakers, SCORE- Speakers Club Of Ryerson Engineers, Keynote Advanced Toastmasters club)
November 7, 2021
How to Prepare a Speech Quickly
Sometimes it can be challenging & daunting to prepare a speech quickly but Arthur Ching provides a few tips on how to make this task easier:
- Pick your favourite subject – this will make it much easier to think of content.
- Outline 3 topics you’d like to speak about – think about this like an essay.
- Then outline sub-topics below the 3 main topics.
- Speak about yourself – any speech that is personal will be much easier to speak about & remember.
- Always try to incorporate stories, the audience will connect with you and remember you.
- Organize the speech in a way that is logical to you.
Arthur Ching (Toasters @ Lunch CIBC, Weston-Mount Dennis, Bombardier, Project Managers United)
October 11, 2021
Speaking to Personality
It’s a common problem. We find ourselves frustrated in our relationships or our careers because we feel unheard, unappreciated and undervalued. That might be the very reason you joined Toastmasters. You want relationships with fluid and effective communication. You want to feel a connection to a shared purpose and a sense of mutuality.
There is a proven method to help you communicate with the people in your life so that you’ll feel heard, understood, appreciated and taken seriously.
We have all felt it, you speak only to be met with blank stares, distracted eyes, misunderstanding and, worse, disinterest. It makes us feel under-valued and under-appreciated. What’s missing is a fundamental understanding of personalities and how we see each other. Without knowing how to manage personality differences, misunderstandings, confusion or even conflict can arise.
If you understand how different personalities function in your relationships, you will better understand yourself and where others are coming from. You’ll be able to relate in a kinder, more compassionate and more effective ways – in ways that build trust.
I discovered DISC personality profiles when I was assessed a few years ago. It helped me see how we are all sending and receiving communication based on our personality type. DISC is a powerful tool. The key is to understand that no personality profile is a silver-bullet fix to relationship communication woes; it’s just a tool. But it’s a very versatile and valuable tool, a baseline for understanding our differences.
The simplicity of the model is its greatest appeal for me. It categorizes people into one of four personality style quadrants: dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness(S) and conscientiousness (C). They are equal but different and under stress, every personality has its own strengths and liabilities.
Let’s have a look…
• The “D” style personalities are fast-paced, results-driven and high achieving. They tend to be quite direct, strong-willed and forceful.
• The “I” styles are outgoing, interactive, engaging, optimistic and enthusiastic. They love being social and collaboration is their middle name.
• The “S” styles are laid-back and even-tempered. They’re supportive, steady and stable team players and consequentially resistant to change.
• Last but not least are the “C” style personalities. They have a need for accuracy and doing things right the first time. They are careful, calculating and driven by excellence and accuracy.
Generally speaking, “D” and “I” personalities prefer a fast-paced, changing, constantly moving environment, while “S” and “C” personalities prefer a more cautious and familiar pace. “D” and “C” styles tend to prioritize tasks over people, while “I” and “S” styles tend to prioritize people over tasks. These very differences are often central to conflict in relationships.
Remember, any strength overextended becomes a liability to our personality. For example:
• A healthy “D” goes from being direct and visionary to being pushy and insensitive.
• A healthy “I” moves from being interactive to being disorganized and impulsive.
• A healthy “S” will be stabilizing, but under stress, they’ll become enabling and rescuing.
• A healthy “C” goes from being conscientious, detail-oriented and organized to overly critical, rigid and inflexible.
Are bells ringing in your head? Are you relating to any particular style? Maybe you recognize your spouse, kids, friends or colleagues in a particular style. Knowing and understanding the DISC personality styles gives you invaluable insight into how others think and feel and how to communicate to build trust and connection. After all, we see the world not as it is, but as we are. Let’s pursue deeper connection and better communication.
Phil Tasci, DTM
January 11, 2021
Zip up your Zoom meetings
In this pandemic environment, have you found that virtual Toastmaster meetings may skipped by members who are tired of multiple online commitments?
How can we boost attendance so members continue to see value in Toastmasters?
Here are some tips to shake things up, to make meetings worth attending, an escape from the routine, and a break from the ordinary.
Many clubs are suffering attendance woes. Why not share your virtual forum and partner with another club?
Find a club that meets the same day and time as yours. Alternate hosting weeks and split the administration duties between your executive teams. Joining forces is a great way to get feedback from members who are new to your speeches and your work.
Change of Schedule
If weekly meetings draw low attendance, survey your members (perhaps a personal call) to learn if bi-weekly meetings or a different meeting day will increase attendance.
Once a decision is voted on by members, be sure publish the new schedule to avoid confusion. Encourage members to sign up for meeting roles several weeks out.
Theme Team/Get Creative:
Sometimes our speeches can be truly cathartic. Isolation, zoom burnout, and lost travel dreams are not the only topics for today’s world. Encourage members to lighten things up a bit!
Find out from members about the a new hobby they have learned? A great book or order-in restaurant they have discovered. What did they accomplish in their home that previously they never had time for? A renovation? Did they adopt a new pet?
All of these are great topics for Table Topics, Level one speeches or even research speeches if a member is embarking on a new hobby.
Make if FUN!
Ralph Smedley said, “We learn best in moments of enjoyment.” Let’s bring back fun and joy to our meetings!
Schedule a backwards meeting. That’s right! Start with the adjournment, then General Evaluation and even speech evaluations before the speeches take place. Maybe that glowing evaluation will inspire a speaker to meet all that you said in your evaluation. Run the timing backwards. Instead of using the stopwatch, use the timer – start at speech at 7 minutes and run it out at zero. Start at red, then yellow, then green.
Decorate your Zoom window. Encourage attendees to use virtual backgrounds, costumes, funky hats, etc to embellish their virtual space. Pick a meeting theme and vote for best dressed or best décor.
Make the Toastmasters experience an enjoyable one. In a environment where one more zoom can tip the scale for someone and prevent attendance, it is amazing what a jolt of life and a sprinkle of fun or temporary adjustment can do to re-energize the environment. We can still learn and grow in an environment of fun. We can still produce results and accomplish goals while lightening the grip of “responsibility”. An attending Toastmaster will always get more results than an absent one.
Here’s to fun meetings, great attendance and renewed spirit in our clubs!
Jennifer Magee, LD4
November 30, 2020
Collaborative Leadership: Lead by Example
As a leader within Toastmasters or within your organization, should you consider adopting the style of collaborative leadership? To answer this, we must answer the following questions:
- What is collaborative leadership?
- Why is it necessary?
- How do you foster collaboration within your team?
- What are the benefits?
What is Collaborative Leadership?
Author Hank Rubin defined collaboration “as a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to accomplish a shared outcome.” He also wrote “You are a collaborative leader once you have accepted responsibility for building – or helping to ensure the success of – a heterogeneous team to accomplish a shared purpose.”
Why is it necessary?
Within Toastmasters, all of us as leaders have several shared purposes. For example, as a club officer, you share the responsibility with your other club officers of increasing your membership, helping your members increase their communication and leadership skills, guiding your members along their Pathways journey, and realizing the ultimate goal of achieving the Distinguished status. As a District Officer, you also share these same responsibilities with other District Officers.
As a leader in the business world, you are faced with ever increasing workloads, less staff, higher productivity, and expanding worldwide competition.
In both cases, it is to your advantage when your entire team is working with you.
How do you foster collaboration within your team?
Collaborative leadership requires a different kind of leadership. Throughout my life journey as a Toastmaster and as a career professional, I have learned that collaborative leadership is achieved by:
- Defining a shared purpose: Your vision, your objective, your plan must be clearly communicated to all team members. Having the honour of serving the district twice as conference chair and once as a division director, describing my vision provided direction and formed the basis to the entire team for making the right decisions.
- Sharing control by delegating and empowering: As a club officer or district leader, you can’t do it alone. You are more productive when you delegate and empower others. As an example, when serving as division director, I offered the opportunity to another member within my division to organize and chair the division speech contests. It was an outstanding success. And there was a bonus. A new leader emerged from within our ranks.
- Leading by example: Your team emulates your words and your actions. One of the tasks of the division director is to assist the area directors to hold speech contests within their respective areas. I helped by bringing refreshments and assisting with the speech contests by serving in any role. However, when your team members support each other, amazing things can happen. At these events, I often witnessed two other area directors helping fellow area director organize tasks with success.
- Providing support: You start by asking your team: “How can I help?” And then you deliver. Soon you’ll find your team members asking each other “How can I help?” During phase 1 of our club officer training, we organized and held workshops on “How to Hold a Successful Open House” along with the training. In phase 2, we held panel discussions on best practices. These could not have been accomplished without the enthusiasm and support of the entire team.
- Trust others to deliver: Trust is an absolute requirement. You must believe your team will deliver. Near the end of my term as division director, a district-wide initiative was launched as a final effort to increase the membership. One of my area directors decided to offer a series of workshops to the public with the help of other colleagues. It was deeply gratifying to know this event would be entirely organized by him while I was away on vacation. Upon my return, I was absolutely stunned to see a room full of attendees taking advantage of the workshops.
What are the benefits?
As a collaborative leader, you build a cohesive and mutually supportive team that can achieve incredible results, in fact, more than you originally hoped for. And, with this style of leadership, you provide the opportunity for the growth of future leaders. In my career as project manager, I was responsible for several teams. However, my work required extensive travel to meet with various clients. I trusted my teams to deliver without my supervision. I had total confidence productivity would be achieved in my absence. We were awarded the highest honour by our senior management: recognition for delivering the best in customer service. I was extremely proud of the achievement of my team.
Should you consider adopting the style of Collaborative Leadership? Most definitely!
Gilles Robert, DTM
October 25, 2020
Toastmasters – Where Leaders Are Made!
Develop and sharpen these traits to become an effective leader:
Passion – It is important to have passion for your goal. With passion comes focus and a sense of direction.
Proactive – Leaders need to be out front. If you want to lead, volunteer, step up and take charge. Involve others.
Plan – It is important to develop a plan. Involve others in its creation. Know the steps and the next steps and the steps after that. Keep your eye on the results.
Pragmatic – Be realistic and know what can be accomplished. Know you can’t do it alone and be sure to involve others.
Persistence – Diligently follow your plan. Keep at it and don’t give up.
Through Toastmasters you have the perfect laboratory to develop and sharpen your leadership traits to become an effective leader within our organization and beyond. Seize your opportunity!
Tony Nelson, DTM
October 18, 2020
Your Sense of Humour – Use it or Lose it
Following one of my seminars some years ago, a young woman approached me and said,
“My daughter keeps telling me I have no sense of humour, and I think she may be right!”
Happily the second part of the comment was said in jest, because the woman knew she hadn’t lost her sense of humour, but she also knew she didn’t laugh as much as she had in earlier years.
For those of you who are struggling to rediscover your sense of humour, let me share a few tips that can work in your speeches and your life.
Adopt a humorous attitude
Just walk around with a smile on your face. I love doing this; it always makes people wonder what you’ve been up to!
One of the biggest advantages of maintaining a humorous attitude is that it provides us with a powerful sense of perspective and balance in our lives. Not only does it allow us to flourish in a hectic environment such as the current pandemic, it also helps us build relationships with others much more quickly, and maintain those relationships far more easily.
Learn from children
Most adults average only 15 laughs per day, and that compares poorly with 5 year-old children who laugh as much as 400 times per day. To improve your disposition, increase the number of mirthful moments in your life.
The beauty of laughter is that it is infectious. Watch young children. If the adults around them start to laugh, they’ll laugh too, even although they have no idea why…. and it works with adults!
Watch a funny show at least once a week
Our spirits yearn for joy. Stop fighting it. Go get it. Find it on TV or on U-tube. Make a pact with yourself that you will consciously watch something really funny for at least one hour every week. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in your outlook and attitude.
Exchange jokes with each other
I know, you can’t tell jokes; you get halfway through and forget the punch line! That’s normal. Very few people can tell a joke properly the first time around. Even professional comedians practice telling jokes and stories until they find the best way. So don’t worry about how good you are, just keep practicing.
It’s been said that one of the most important qualities of a great boss is a sense of humour. I would suggest to you that one of the most important qualities of a great person is a sense of humour.
Your Toastmasters club is a great place to develop your abilities, including your sense of humour.
In today’s society, we share many aspects of ourselves with others. We share our knowledge, our wisdom, and our beliefs; and in doing so, we receive much more than we give.
So it is with humour. Give it away and it will return to you in even greater abundance.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and your mascara will run!
Ross Mackay, DTM, PID, AS
October 11, 2020
Thanksgiving Toasts Do’s and Don’ts
With Thanksgiving just days away, you may be asked (or take it upon yourself) to give a toast virtually or in person. To help you prepare, Toastmasters International offers a list of 10 do’s and don’ts that will help you deliver an exceptional toast this Thanksgiving or other special events.
- Do identify yourself. Although you may be surrounded by friends and family, it’s customary to provide a brief explanation of who you are before beginning the toast.
- Don’t make the speech about you. Just because you’re the one speaking, doesn’t mean it’s an opportunity to talk about yourself.
- Do toast the host. Show your gratitude at the event by thanking the host during your speech.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol before speaking. You’ll want to be in top form when delivering the toast.
- Do use humour. Jokes and funny anecdotes are acceptable as long as they’re positive, appropriate to the audience and not offensive.
- Don’t use inappropriate language. Avoid using profanity and telling potentially embarrassing stories.
- Do practice. Rehearse your message in front of an audience or a mirror prior to the event.
- Don’t apologize. If you make a mistake, there’s no need to say you’re sorry. Pick up where you left off and keep going.
- Do raise your glass. To deliver the toast, stand; lift your glass by the stem and say, “I’d like to propose a toast.” Pause to allow guests to shift their attention toward you and give them time to lift their glasses. Be sure to lower your glass to about waist height.
- Don’t talk too much. A toast should last no longer than three minutes.
“Delivering a holiday toast is a great honour,” says Lark Doley, Toastmasters 2018-19 International President. “What were those unforgettable moments last year to your audience? Express those moments in a positive, memorable way to launch the special occasion on a positive note.”
October 8, 2020
10 Tips for Successful Online Meetings
Members of Toastmasters International have been meeting face-to-face for more than 95 years, but due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), most meetings have been temporarily moved online. Many members have found online meetings to be a great way to stay connected, keep momentum going, and provide a much-needed sense of routine in a time when many people’s lives are altered, and social distancing is widespread.
To help ensure your meeting is a success, Toastmasters International offers these 10 tips for an efficient and productive online meeting:
- Select a video-conferencing platform, and do a test run prior to the meeting
- Meeting organizers should send attendees a copy of the agenda in advance
- Choose a quiet location before joining the meeting to reduce potential distractions for both yourself and other attendees
- Arrive on time or let the organizer know ahead of time if you will be late or unable to attend
- Mute your microphone when not speaking
- Adjust your camera so you can be seen, and look into the camera—not the monitor—when speaking
- Dress as you would for an in-person meeting
- Be aware of your background and make sure it’s appropriate
- Stay focused and avoid checking email or perusing other materials unrelated to the meeting
- Respect fellow attendees by refraining from distracting behaviour like eating or chewing gum
September 27, 2020
Connect With Your Audience
Do you realize that every time you speak you are selling something? It could be a service, a product, an idea, even yourself! If you are in speaking… you are in sales! A competent, confident communicator does not simply give out information but gets through with a clear, concise message, and connects!
Tip 1: Opening: You have 7 seconds for an audience to like you and 35 seconds for them to want to listen to you. Open strong by getting right into the content with maybe a quotation, a question, a profound statement … something relevant to your content that grabs their immediate attention. Follow with a promise of benefits they will receive from listening to you and adhering to your message. Then give a roadmap of where you are taking them ( i.e. 3 Secrets to Success, or The ABC Guide to Greatness or Winning Ways to..) This is especially important for business presenters and trainers.
Tip 2: Ending: Never ever close with Q&A – it’s a recipe for disaster! (someone’s question may take them on a different tangent, away from your message) Set some time for Q&A, if you wish, and tell them: “Then I’ll close.” Always close on YOUR optimistic, hopeful, powerful note with a call to action.
Tip 3: Organization: Your content needs to be tight; avoid squeezing too much information in, rambling on and confusing them. Know exactly what you wish your audience to think, feel, say or do differently after you finish speaking. A confused mind says “no” to any suggestion made. Make your points clear, and the take-away message doable.
Tip 4: Try to use humour. When people laugh, they relax, when they relax, they learn, when they learn, they remember. Share your flaws, fears, failures, frustrations and firsts. People don’t like perfect people, they like personable ones, who can laugh at themselves.
Tip 5: Tell stores: Use simple, everyday stories from which you have learned a lesson that may also benefit them. Note: “Facts only tell, but stories Sell!” People are moved to action, not only intellectually but emotionally. Stories that transform fact and figures into flesh and blood stories are the heart of a presentation and make it memorable. Stories are also a great natural way of uncovering ( not adding) humour through your use of relatable characters and their actual dialogue!
Tip 6: Deliver with enthusiasm: Your delivery is your opportunity to make your content come alive, by transforming a one dimensional text into a 3D experience. Please note that sameness is the enemy of the speaker. Vary your voice in pace, projection, pitch, and pause at times so they can reflect on a question, problem or issue. Vary your emotions, movement on the platform, and methodology of delivery. Don’t talk AT them but WITH them in a natural, sincere, conversational manner. Touch base with them at times, with possibly a question just like when you’re having a conversation with a friend. ie “Does that make sense to you ?” or “How would you have felt in that situation?”
Audiences love speakers who are clear, conversational and personable. They can resonate with those traits which will endear them to you and therefore, connect with you. As a result, an effective communicator is both remembered and repeated.
Kathryn MacKenzie, DTM
September 20, 2020
Speaking to Diverse Audiences
Giving a speech or presentation to an audience of people who speak various languages or have differing cultural backgrounds requires special tact on the part of the speaker. Here are some tips and techniques on how to effectively engage a diverse audience:
- Enunciate clearly. If possible, try to speak with a neutral accent to better include all audience members.
- Don’t speak too fast. Remember that the normal pace of speech in one language might become incomprehensible for people relatively new to that language.
- Be careful with metaphors. Some metaphors that are appropriate in one culture can be offensive to another. A good example is references to sports not popular or practiced in a certain country, or phrases that are comical in one culture yet offensive in another.
- Know the meanings of words outside your native language. Unless you are absolutely sure of the meaning and pronunciation of a word you are using in a given language, do not use it. In some languages, slight variations of a vowel will completely alter the meaning of a word.
- Avoid slang, jargon and idiomatic expressions. Diverse audiences may not understand slang from a given country. English phrases such as “that dog don’t hunt” or “cool as a cucumber” might be colourful, but the meaning could be lost on a large part of the audience.
- Be mindful of body language, eye contact and personal space. Posture, mannerisms and eye contact speak volumes and what is taken for granted in one culture might be considered offensive in another.
September 13, 2020
Re-imagining Table Topics
Table Topics is the fun and impromptu segment of each Toastmaster meeting, ubiquitous in its nature the world over. Pandemic times and the virtual world have provided us with a unique opportunity to reimagine and provide new twists on the way we present. ART Toastmasters invites Table Topics speakers to deliver short impromptu speeches, after which other members provide immediate evaluations of the impromptu speeches. The Table Topic evaluators only have the length of time that the impromptu speech takes to formulate their evaluation. The added value for the evaluators is that they get practice to think on their feet while providing feedback. If you would like to witness this in action contact ART VP PR Dave Bachan, email@example.com for further details.
Dave Bachan, DTM
September 7, 2020
Preparing for an Online Speech Contest
Who would have thought back in January that the Toastmasters International Speech Contest would be held online in 2020? As a competitor at the District level, I had to find ways to overcome obstacles associated with presenting online. No audience in front of me, to look into their eyes and connect. No laughter when I added humour to my speech. The stage transformed from a sprawling platform to a 4′ X 4′ square to capture my gestures and movements. As Toastmasters, we rise to the challenge, and I want to share with you some strategies that I implemented to give me the best advantage under the circumstances.
- Find an audience to practice for your virtual presentation. Engage family members or friends to be your visual audience looking at you and reacting to your speech.
- Choose an appropriate location with adequate lighting. Keep pets and small children out of the room. Ideally choose a blank wall as your background. Virtual backgrounds are not permitted for the contest. Avoid clutter, windows, mirrors, etc., as you are the focus of the attention ~ not the items in the background. Make sure your face can be seen clearly, without shadows.
- Place the camera at eye level. Look directly into the camera at all times. This takes practice. By doing so you are doing your best to duplicate the experience of being in front of an audience, looking into their eyes.
- Know your equipment. It should be high quality. Make sure your audio comes through clearly. Buy an external microphone, placed in the best location to pick up your voice. Most important: make sure you have a strong internet connection. This is THE contest ~ avoid a pixelated presentation.
- Stand, don’t sit! The rules for the contest stipulate that you must stand to present, but I believe you should stand for any speech online. Always try to present a “real” speaking experience.
- Dress appropriately. This is a professionally organized contest. Dress the part. I believe that men should wear a suit and tie; ladies wear a solid colour pant suit or jacket with plain pants. Avoid prints and loud colours. Remember we are looking at you ~ not your outfit.
- Practice, Practice, Practice! I used to do this on Zoom to see my body language and gestures; I marked the floor with tape for my 4′ X 4′ virtual stage.
As we move forward with Toastmasters online, these tips can assist with any virtual presentation – keynote speech, regular Toastmasters meetings or the International Speech Contest.
Janet Heidker, DTM
August 31, 2020
If you host a special event, you may be required to introduce speakers. Try these quick tips for delivering thoughtful speaker introductions:
- Don’t steal the show by making the introduction too long (60 seconds or less is sufficient), or by speaking on a topic that is in no way related to the speaker.
- Grab the audience’s attention with a great opening. This can be an inspiring quote, a humorous anecdote, or an impressive milestone the speaker has achieved.
- Briefly mention the topic the speaker is addressing, but don’t reveal too much about his or her speech.
- Establish the speaker’s authority and expertise. This information will help solidify with the audience the speaker’s credibility as a subject matter expert.
August 25, 2020
Accepting feedback on our speeches is commonplace in Toastmasters. Or rather, hearing feedback is commonplace. Accepting is a skill we develop, but it can be difficult.
For many reasons, but one I have often heard is that our emotions sometimes cause an inner dialogue that makes it difficult to hear and accept the tidbits that will help us improve – regardless of our skill level.
At some Advanced clubs, Speaking from Experience is one to which I belong, all attendees provide feedback to all speakers and evaluators. That makes for a lot of feedback.
I delayed my first speech and my first evaluation for a long time because I was hesitant to hear that I wasn’t as good as I hoped I was.
Then I jumped in and I’m grateful for the tremendous feedback. Each comment comes from a different perspective, giving me a “big picture” view of how each presentation is received by different audience members.
To prepare myself to hear the feedback, however, I must manage my emotions.
Below are five suggestions, based upon my personal experience, to hopefully help you accept feedback:
- Accept your feedback with gratitude. Without the feedback, you won’t know what to improve or consider changing.
- Each person has a valid opinion. Period.
- Your presentation was a moment (or perhaps 5-7 minutes) in time. It does not represent your entire speaking career.
- Each person hears your presentation through their own lens. Through that lens, they notice your body language, facial gestures, word selection, stagecraft, pronunciation, etc.
- Remember that providing feedback is a challenging skill to develop, one that is extremely valuable in other aspects of our lives.
Remember that one of the most valuable components of Toastmasters is that we are all learning, improving, and supporting each other. We offer feedback to help others, and ourselves, communicate effectively. We are lucky to belong to such an organization.
With that in mind, I strongly urge you to take a deep breath, deliver your speech, and embrace your feedback.
Michelle Warren, DTM
August 17, 2020
Practice Makes Permanent
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Practice Makes Perfect.” Members of Podium Toastmasters Club say “Practice Makes Permanent.” Every word is not expected to flow in precisely the way intended, but persistent practice promotes a deep understanding of your topic and speech.
Toastmasters recommends you “Practice, practice, practice.”
- Practice using the equipment required. Rehearse your speech using any equipment and/or visual aids you’ll use during your presentation.
- Practice your speech aloud. Rehearse your speech aloud so you can work on your vocal variety and tone.
- Practice often. Rehearse your speech as often as possible to help the material set in.
Persistent practice will help you feel more calm and confident, and allow you to focus on your audience (instead of your notes!) during your presentation.
August 10, 2020
Giving Sales Pitches
A sales pitch or proposal seeks to persuade. The objective of the presentation is to sell a product, concept or idea. The ability to present sales pitches and proposals effectively can open the door to professional opportunities.
To organize ideas into an effective sales pitch or proposal, use the “inverted pyramid” approach, which gives an audience the most important information in the first few sentences (how much money might be saved, how lives might be improved, etc.). Support claims with logic and evidence, and end every sales pitch or proposal with a call to action. If an audience agrees with the initial message or point, the supporting material that follows will reinforce that agreement. If an audience disagrees, logic and evidence may win them over.
Use high-quality yet simple visual aids, such as charts or slides, to help clarify any sales pitch or proposal. Make sure the visual aids can be seen by every person in the audience, and limit each chart or slide to a single main point.
Offer a question-and-answer period following a sales pitch or proposal, which can supply you with valuable feedback about the effectiveness of the pitch. It also gives an audience the opportunity to further clarify specific points or data that was presented. Below are a few ways to effectively answer questions from an audience:
- Anticipate possible questionsby rehearsing with colleagues or friends.
- Provide answersthat support the sales pitch or proposal.
- Disarm loaded questions(those based on false premises or irrelevant assumptions) by being polite and asking the questioner to further explain his or her question.
- Divide complicated questionsinto several parts before answering them.
August 1, 2020
Whether you’re accepting an Oscar or community recognition, Toastmasters International offers these proven tips for delivering a powerful acceptance speech for any type of award:
- Show your personality. Your acceptance speech should come from the heart.
- Be gracious. Acknowledge the good work done by your competitors and thank the organization that selected you for the award.
- Show excitement. You don’t have to climb over chairs or even cry, but the audience should recognize that you’re happy to have won the award.
- Be modest. Your acceptance speech should be heartfelt but not self-congratulatory.
- Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse with a timer, memorize key people to thank and allow time for the unexpected.
July 24, 2020