Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Toastmaster Tips - How to effectively write/memorize your speech script?

Do you find it difficult to memorize your speech script? Do you often forget a few important points or even an entire paragraph when you deliver the speech? If you cannot memorize your script (after hours of preparation), how will the audience remember it, after hearing the speech just once?

You don’t have to accuse yourself… You don’t have to think that you have a poor memory when compared to other speakers. It is easy to manage this problem by scripting your speech effectively. You can write your speech script in a way to easily memorize. How do you do that?

Here is a simple technique. A 5 – 7 minutes speech should focus on just one important message. You can have 2 or 3 key points to convey your message. Each of those key points can have a small story or an example that can stick in your mind (as well as the audience’s).  The more stories and examples you have in your speech, it is easier for you to memorize it.  Let us take academics for example. We tend to remember the stories that we read during our childhood days, even after several years… but we easily forget the physics or chemistry that we read during the same time.

It is easier to remember stories than just "text". You can still remember some of the stories told during your childhood days because of the way in which it was delivered to you. To the extent possible, include animations in your delivery (hand gestures, stage movements, vocal variety etc.,).

Try scripting your next speech with stories and examples. See the magic it does to you and to your audience.

Also read:

Toastmaster Tips - Vocal Variety

Vocal variety enhances the delivery of your speech to a great extent. It is not just a matter of speaking out load so that your audience can hear, but it is about emphasizing key points. When preparing your speech script, mark or underline the key phrases/words that you need to deliver with high or low pitch. When you practice your speech, consciously introduce vocal variations. Make sure that the voice modulations are exaggerated during your practice sessions. When you go live, your voice modulation would get adjusted to adequate levels because of your nervousness, and/or room/audience size

Have you listened to great public speakers? You can watch videos of speeches from eminent people like Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama in Youtube. It will help you to improve your delivery - especially your vocal variety. Do watch Martin Luther King's "I have a dream", if you get a chance.

Vocal Variety in your speech makes a lasting impact on the audience and helps them to remember your speech for a longer time.

Also read: Competent Communicator Project 6 - How to get the best rating in performance reviews? (Vocal Variety)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toastmasters & Potluck - Commonalities

Toastmasters & Potluck have lots of commonalities.

"A potluck is a gathering of people where each person or group of people contributes a dish of food to be shared among the group". There are a number of benefits in organizing a potluck party:
  • Instead of one person taking the burden of cooking/arranging food for all invitees, each invitee brings a dish to share with others
  • Attendees get to taste a variety of dishes
  • There is no single point of failure - even if one of the attendees forgets to bring a dish, it is hardly noticed (or it is easier to substitute)
In a  training program, a single tutor/trainer trains a bunch of people. However, in Toastmasters, each member gets to learn from others. Each member brings something to the table. You get to listen to a variety of speeches/speakers and you learn from each one of them. You learn not only from your mistakes, but also from others'. There is always variety in toastmasters which makes every meeting special.

Do you now agree that Toastmasters & Potluck have lots of commonalities?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Farming & Toastmastering - Similarities

Are you a hunter or a farmer? In my last 4 years with toastmasters, I have seen several guests entering the toastmasters meeting, wanting to improve their communication skills in just few weeks. Some of them, out of excessive enthusiasm, end up enrolling in a "costly" training program that "teaches" communication skills for a couple of days. However, they don't realize that "improving communication skills" is equivalent of "farming" than "hunting".

A hunter, wakes up one fine morning, takes his gun (or bow/arrows) and goes for hunting. If he is lucky, he may shoot an animal and bring home some food. If he is unlucky, he may starve for weeks together.

However, farming is different. Farming involves ploughing the land, sowing seeds, watering the field, removing weeds, adding fertilizer, and finally doing harvesting. Farming produces more food when compared to hunting. There is more predictability of results in farming, than hunting. Farming is more disciplined/organized way of generating food (when compared to hunting).

Similarly, toastmasters provides a structured program to improve communication skills. Toastmasters provides an opportunity to nourish & constantly re-enforce your communication skills.
 One of my toastmasters friends said, "You cannot be a seasoned speaker by just being a seasonal speaker". You should be constantly practicing in front of people to deliver speeches. That is the only way by which you can be a successful public speaker.

You cannot swallow a "magic pill" before going to bed and get up the next day morning as a "seasoned public speaker". The law of harvest applies even for sharpening your communication skills. It takes time. But, if you are constantly working on it, you'll be a professional soon. Start ploughing the field today, to reap the benefits tomorrow.