Saturday, June 30, 2018

Speechcraft - Don'ts (and some "Dos")

Speechcraft is a program designed to teach public speaking skills to members and non-members of Toastmasters. It is a 6 - 8 sessions program, conducted over multiple weeks. Speechcraft program also provides a platform for experienced Toastmasters to practice their speaking skills in front of a new audience. 

The members who organize and facilitate Speechcraft program have a huge responsibility on their shoulders. They are the brand ambassadors of Toastmasters International. Whatever they do as part of the Speechcraft program can positively or negatively influence the Toastmasters International brand. 

The following are some suggestions (based on my experience!), to improve the effectiveness of the Speechcraft program:
  1. Do not conduct the Speechcraft program without the original manuals or with photocopied manuals. 
  2. Do not conduct Speechcraft programs with inexperienced / untrained Toastmasters. 
    • Ideally, the trainers should've completed at least Advance Communicator - Silver (as the manual expects you to conduct two presentations from The Better Speaker Series and/or The Successful Club Series for getting the credit)
    • The trainers should've experience conducting workshops - for ex., they should've conducted some trainings in Officers Training Program or Area/Division events. 
    • The trainers should strictly adhere to the format / contents specified in the Speechcraft coordinator's guide. I recommend the Speechcraft organisers to be trained by experienced Toastmasters from the Division or the District. 
  3. Never go late to a Speechcraft meeting, be there in the training hall at least 15 - 30 minutes in advance. Speechcraft program that happens in a corporate venue may have additional security restrictions. Be there in advance, to park your vehicle, clear through the security procedure to be at the training venue, 15 - 30 minutes in advance. 
  4. Always be dressed up in a formal wear 
  5. Do not change the program contents / scope, drastically 
    • You can change the order in which the different topics are covered, to suit the audience's needs. However, you cannot introduce topics beyond the scope of the Speechcraft program (for ex., topics like "Interviewing skills" or "Time Management", even if the participants request for it)
    • Speechcraft coordinators guide clearly explains what should be the structure for each and every meeting. Adhere to the structure / format recommended in the Speechcraft manual. 
    • There is a lot of differences between a regular Toastmasters meeting and a Speechcraft meeting. For ex., roles like Grammarian, Ah Counter, Sergeant at Arms, Presiding Officer etc., are not relevant for a Speech Craft program. 
  6. Do not give away Speechcraft completion certifications for participants who haven't completed the minimum requirement of 3 out of the 6 projects. Ice Breaker, Organize your Speech and Get to the Point are mandatory speeches that the participant has to complete to be eligible for the Speechcraft completion award.
  7. Non-Toastmasters participating in a Speechcraft program may be least interested in "Toastmasters" and most interested in "Public Speaking skills development". While you can talk about "Toastmasters" and encourage them to join a club, that should not be our prime objective. For ex., avoid boasting about Toastmasters history, why it was started, who started it, how is Toastmasters International structured etc., during the first few meetings. You can talk about it offline during the networking time or during Session 8 (last session). A salesman normally asks the prospect to buy a product after the prospect has understood clearly the benefits of the purchase. That is one of the reasons to keep the marketing part for Session 8. 
  8. When you assign coaches / mentors for the Speechcraft participants, ensure that the participants get a high-quality support from their coaches / mentors. 
  9. Ensure that you pick the "right" Speechcraft coordinators or trainers based on factors such as age/experience of the participants and expectations from the participants. For ex., in multiple occasions, we've noticed that the Speechcraft organizers pick some junior (age/experience) Toastmasters to conduct the session and the Speechcraft participants weren't very comfortable with them. 
  10. Do not finish the entire Speechcraft program in 1 week over 8 meetings. The effectiveness of the learning is directly proportional to the amount of home work done by the participants. It is recommended to give sufficient time between each meeting, so that, the participants have time to prepare for their speeches. 
  11. Send out agenda for every meeting in advance, so that the participants can come prepared. 

There is a famous quote that goes like this “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read". Speechcraft program provides a great opportunity for Toastmasters and non-Toastmasters to connect with new people and learn from each other. 

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