Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Toastmasters Speech #2

In a prior post I wrote about joining the Toastmasters public speaking organization.  In this organization you follow a program of rules and techniques.  And then you practice, and try it out in front of your club members a.k.a. - the audience.  It's a fantastic organization and I'm inspired each time I attend.

Several weeks ago I gave my first speech [The Ice Breaker] where I spoke from 5 to 7 minutes about myself and I basically choked.  It was sad... they were kind.

Well last night I presented my second speech [Organize your speech] from the competent communicator manual.  I'm happy to report that I spoke for about 6 minutes with no problem and it was reported that I didn't use filler words [uh, like, well, ya know].  It's funny when you run through practice and everything goes really good.  In your head you anticipate a certain response from the audience.  Well I'm no exception.  I went over my speech many times timing it at 7 minutes and 23 seconds.  I used visual aids, solicited audience participation, and attempted humor as well.  I felt lost after my first shot at humor didn't go as planned.  One of my mentors told me that there are ALWAYS three speeches that you give: the one you practiced, the one that you deliver, and the one you wish you'd have delivered.  And then LET IT GO.  Many people were kind but I knew that I was "all over the place" and I easily lost my focus when a joke didn't work. Didn't know how to gain my focus back so I rushed through and finished on time, with time to spare.  After the speeches there is a host of evaluators who give feedback that is supposed to help you improve while praising the things you did well.

That didn't really happen last night unfortunately.  You see, it doesn't help a novice speaker when people are just being kind.  What we need is tactful criticism which will aid our improvement.  Last night I felt the nice, nice of the evaluators and didn't feel the help :-(  That's probably because there is a disconnect between mentors not teaching novices how to deliver helpful criticism; and a disconnect between novices seeking out mentors advice and taking it.

What I learned about my technique was just because I find something funny don't assume...and cover myself in case I get crickets.  I have to practice that.

Yes, as a club we hold each other up and work out our techniques in front of each other however when we are afraid to bring helpful tips and risk sounding like "the bad guy" it's counter productive.  That being said, it's important to schedule as many speeches as I can as well as practice giving constructive criticism, with tact and grace.  Bad news will not cause me to run away.  One can't improve if one doesn't know what they are doing wrong.  I repeat, I enjoy my club very much and the love is fantastic but the tough love would be even better.

Can I get an Amen?

1 comment:

  1. Amen!

    You're right. We all need to learn how to give and receive constructive criticism. It's a hard lesson, but but will make our lives better.

    Keep it up!

    Jose Estrada



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