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Meet The Beatles At the 2011 Area Two Toastmasters International Speech Competition (Marley’s Ghost Performs in the Trump Boardroom on 3-31-11)

by Bill on July 7, 2011 posted in Adventures in Public Speaking- Mine, Yours, Other People's,Hey! :) I’d Like Your Feedback on My Speaking,Speaking

On March 31, 2011, I gave a speech called Meet The Beatles in Speech 01. My primary goal with the speech was to give the audience some entertaining and useful information about public speaking by discussing one of the first speeches I made in High School. But… I also wanted to impress the judges enough to advance to the Division A finals of the Toastmasters International Speech Competition. I didn’t win the contest on March 31st, but I did learn several things that will improve my speaking. My goal for this post, is to help you learn more about how to make an effective speech either through the video of my speech at the competition, or from what I write about participating in the competition. I hope you learn from both!

This post is about four things:

1. Toastmasters Competitions
2. A specific Toastmasters Competition
3. What you can learn from what I believe I did right in my presentation, and what you can learn from what I might have done better in my speech. ( You don’t have to be a Toastmasters member to learn from this. 🙂 )
4. This post is also a request for constructive suggestions from you about how I can improve my presentations. (I seek ways to improve my communication skills 95% of the time that I am awake. My wife, Emily, says that I do this when I am asleep too.)

Toastmasters Competitions—What’s the Deal?

Who’s better, The Beatles, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Led Zeppelin, or U2? Jay Z or Public Enemy? Lady Gaga or Madonna? Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, or Jeff Foxworthy? Justin Bieber or The Jonas Brothers? You get the idea…Toastmasters competitions can be subjective. I believe our Area Two winner, Wayne Goode, would have won the competition that day whether the judges were from Huntsville, Al., USA, Manchester, England, or Shanghai China. Wayne did a very good job delivering a very memorable and unique speech.

Is it possible that another panel of judges might have considered Alycia Harris, Tim Vander Veer, or me the winner? Sure! Again, whose better The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Led Zeppelin, or U2? (Am I as good as The Beatles? Well no, but analogies using famous people are much easier to understand. 🙂 )

If you are a member of Toastmasters, please consider entering your club’s next competition! A competition is a great opportunity to grow as a speaker in the same supportive environment that you are used to in Toastmasters. If you aren’t in Toastmasters, and want to be a better speaker, why haven’t you joined? For most people, Toastmasters Clubs are the best places to work on becoming excellent speakers.

If you have questions about Toastmasters, please leave a comment below, or contact me through my contact page.

Oops! These are things I Might Have Done Better at the Area 2 Toastmasters International Speech Competition

1. Arrive early. (Very early!) I arrived two minutes before the competition was scheduled to begin. Was this a good idea? No! On our planet, there is no theory of gravity, there is a law of gravity. When making a presentation, there is no theory that arriving early helps you make an excellent presentation, there is a law that arriving early helps you make a better presentation.

My schtick is more casual than formal. The competition was held in a very formal environment, the SAIC boardroom in Huntsville, Al. (The vibe I got, was that Donald Trump or the CEO of SAIC would walk in the room and begin firing people at any second!) My fellow Hi-Noon Toastmasters club members Nancy Hershey, and Debi Trumbull, told me that they had never seen me so nervous before making a speech. (I don’t know what they saw, but I felt like The Energizer Bunny on 3 cups of Starbucks Espresso flushed down with Red Bull.) Once I started giving my speech, I was fine. I was fine for the same reason that a bear released from the Appalachian Bear Rescue Center feels fine once it is released back into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While sitting in a corporate boardroom or being introduced to an audience in a corporate boardroom may seem foreign to me, giving a speech seems natural to me. (I’m weird like that!)

So, would I rather speak for an audience in a non-smoking bar, for a community group, or for a church group than speak in a corporate boardroom? Yes! (My ideal speaking locale is a church group with an open bar. I’m kidding, but that ambiance might suit me more easily than the ambiance of a corporate boardroom.) Does this mean I should never speak in a boardroom? No! Here’s what it does mean for me though—

1. I should always arrive thirty minutes before any presentation that I am making. If I am speaking in a very formal corporate environment, I should show up an hour early, deliver my speech to the empty room, and settle into the terrain. Like Marley’s Ghost, the challenges that arriving late caused me developed into a ponderous chain of challenges to overcome. Chains can be broken though, and I have done much better arriving places on time since the day I gave this speech!
2. When I deliver a line that gets a laugh(s), I should pause a few seconds and allow the audience to enjoy the laugh(s).
3. My presentation might have been better if I amped up my energy level a bit.
4. I should have gone to Florida and lied on the beach for a week before my speech. (Seriously, the lights in that room made everyone look like an apparition.)

Yay for Me! Things I Believe I Did Right Before and During the Area 2 Toastmasters International Speech Competition

1. I rehearsed my speech numerous times before the contest.
2. I videotaped myself practicing my speech frequently before I gave it at the competition.
3. My Toastmasters club chose me to represent them in the contest, and I spoke at the contest. The only way to become a better speaker is to give speeches!
4. During the speech, I smiled. This is a very underrated element of speech making. For more information about the importance of the smile please see my review of Bert Decker’s book You’ve Got to be Believed to be Heard. (I think I could have smiled even more than I did during this speech though.)
5. I involved the audience in the speech by asking them questions.
6. The statements in my presentation were backed by public speaking experts including: Janet Esposito, Lee Glickstein, and Bert Decker. These folks know their stuff!
7. I told a story. Stories have been one of the most effective forms of communication since our ancestors began telling them around the campfire or cave, or wherever in the world they told them first. My story was about a High School speech where I spoke about The Beatles. 100% of my audience attended High School and knew who The Beatles are.
8. I let the audience know what my speech was about at the beginning and reviewed the three points of my speech at the end.

Fellow DIY Postgraduate Students of the Communication Arts, Toastmasters, Beginning Speakers, or People Who Randomly Surfed Onto This Page, Now It’s Your Turn

After watching, or scanning my video, what suggestions do you have for me? (Other than getting a tan before my next speech? 🙂 ) Please post your comments, ideas, and suggestions below.

Thanks for stopping by!

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