Hints and Tips – Take a Breath

Whether you are going to stand up to give a speech, evaluation or topic, take a couple of deep breaths before you rise from your seat and a couple more as you walk to the stage. Make sure the stage is set how you want it so that you will be comfortable in front of the audience, pause, then begin. Speak calmly and watch your pitch, pace and pause so that you don’t speak too quickly or too slowly.

From Speakeasy 100 – June 2007

HOW TO! – Use the Flip chart

HOWTOShould you wish to use the flip chart during a presentation, ask the Sergeant at Arms to bring this along to the meeting. It is good to prepare in advance so you will both need to get to the meeting in good time. Once it has been prepared, close it down so that the contents cannot be seen by the audience.

Always use black or blue pens, red is a difficult colour to see as it bleeds which makes it hard to read, particularly at the back of the hall. Colours such as red, yellow or green are good for colouring in a bar chart or other designs drawn on the sheet.

If you decide to use the flip chart during your presentation, such as writing relevant points down as you go along, make sure it is legible and clear, write in large print, avoid upper and lower case. If you have sub headings under a particular heading mark these with a hyphen or star prior to each line to show the links.

When referring to items on the page, do not stand in front of the sheet but to the side and point with a pen or pointer at the line you are referring to and look at the audience not continually at the flip chart. Remember, a flip chart is an aid to your speech not a crutch!

Lastly, always remember to close the flip chart down when you have finished with it or alternatively at the end of your presentation.

From Speakeasy 92 – November 2006

Hints and Tips – Practise in front of a mirror

Once you have your speech ready, practise in front of a mirror and record yourself. It may sound silly, but when you listen to your delivery you can hear where you can give more voice enhancement to bring your speech to life. You will also see how the timing is, if you are well over time start to cut the speech back. Remember, the audience does not know what you leave out, they only hear what you are saying.

Practising in front of a mirror will let you see whether you are stilted and how you can use gestures to aid your presentation.

Finally, practise in front of a family member or a friend, or better still in front of your Mentor.

From Speakeasy 129 – November 2009

Exceptional Evaluations Workshop – April 10th

It was a great pleasure to welcome Freddie Daniells to ESC to deliver his “Exceptional Evaluations” workshop on Monday 10th April. This was the 139th time he’s given this workshop. His aim is to help us become more effective and exceptional evaluators, because, as he says: “When you give feedback, you have the chance to build people up or to tear them down.”

Feedback or evaluations, are at the heart of Toastmasters’ meetings. Being able to give feedback effectively will build speakers’ confidence and skills.

Freddie joined Toastmasters in 2004, and continues to be a member of Holborn Speakers and Excalibur Speakers in London. He has served in many various Committee roles at Club, Division and District level. As District Governor for Great Britain and Ireland in 2012-13, he met many past District champions of International Speech and Evaluation contests and asked them for their winning ways. He credits his learning and much of the material in his workshop to the feedback he received from these champion speakers and evaluators.

On behalf of Epsom Speakers’ Club and everyone at the workshop, huge thanks to Freddie for travelling to the depths of Surrey to share his experience, insights and learnings. With his magnanimous spirit and personality, he’s inspired us all to give, and get, more feedback in all walks of life, not just at Toastmasters.

ESC President

Key points from the workshop

1. Mindset

Think of the mindset of people who have given you effective and useful feedback. Freddie identified 7 common attributes of champion Evaluators:

  1. Motivating
  2. Empathetic – showed understanding of others’ needs and wants
  3. Honest
  4. Timely
  5. Specific
  6. Balanced
  7. Actionable

The first 3 attributes are “emotional” – based on your feelings, and are subjective and personal. The other 4 attributes are more objective – based on what can be observed and accounted for. So, exceptional evaluators take notice of both what is going on inside for them (how they feel in response to the speaker and the speech) AND what is going on outside (what they notice the speaker is doing, saying, being…).

2. 7 Steps

Freddie identified 7 steps that all champion evaluators did. When you are asked to be a Speech Evaluator, there are things you can do to prepare before the meeting; these to do at the meeting; and after the meeting.

Before the Meeting:
1. Speak to the speaker: – find out their personal objectives and past speaking experience, what project or Manual they are on.
2. Read the Manual: look at the project objectives.

At the Meeting:
3. Analyse (listen, observe, critical thinking)
4. Prioritise (which points to focus on)
5. Stand and deliver your evaluation

After the Meeting:
6. Write up evaluation feedback in manual
7. Buy the speaker a drink (check and clarify your feedback with speaker, get their reaction, etc).

3. Analysing the speaker and the speech.

Look at Structure, Content, Delivery and Audience. Freddie referred us to the Competent Communications (CC) manual where each project identified aspects that help build an effective speech – and in turn, these are the factors which can be commented on in your feedback. E.g.

OBE: opening, body, ending;
Power of 3
Opening impact
Conclusions – ending
Compare & contrast

General purpose: inspire, inform, entertain or to persuade
Rhetorical devices: alliteration, metaphors, repetition, triads
Active vs passive voice
Descriptive language
Avoid jargon
Simple or complex sentences
Facts / research used
Props / visual aids

gestures, movement on stage
facial expressions
vocal variety: pitch, pace, pause, power, projection…
Audience: WIIFM (what’s in it for me? Why should I listen to your speech?)
How does the speaker CONNECT with the audience? Through story? Humour?
Importance of humour in speeches – laughter helps audience to connect with you.

4. Prioritising

You only have 2-3 minutes to deliver your Evaluation Speech. You need to select a limited number of points to make. Freddie recommends no more than 5 points. Select the top 3 things you liked most (your Commendations) and the 2 things that could make the speech better (your Recommendations).

What order do you deliver each point? Freddie recommends this order: Start with your 2nd best like (Commendation), 3rd best like, then 1st big recommend, 2nd recommend, then your 1st best like. That way, you start off with 2 things you like about the speech, then 2 things that can make the speech better, and end with the biggest thing you like the most about the speech. This order makes your feedback motivating and constructive. This is the Body of your Evaluation.

For each commendation, say WHAT you liked (e.g. use of gestures), WHY this important (e.g gestures help bring the message alive), WHEN you specifically noticed the speaker using gestures effectively.

For each recommendation, say WHAT the speaker could do to improve (e.g. pause more), WHY this is important (e.g pauses allow the audience to take in your message better, and can add more impact), WHEN you specifically noticed the speaker could use this more effectively, and show HOW by demonstrating this.

5. Stand and deliver your evaluation.

Your evaluation is a speech, so you should have an Opening, Body and Ending. You already have the Body. The Opening is no more than about 20 seconds, and should contain an impactful line, something relevant to the speech, to get the attention of the audience. Followed by the greeting. i.e. Fellow toastmasters, guests and Speaker name.

The Ending is no more than 20 seconds. Signal you are moving to the End, e.g. say: In conclusion, or In summary, or Overall…. Then summarise by highlighting simply what you’ve said, using as few words as possible. Then one finishing line. Example: “In conclusion, an extremely inspirational and entertaining speech with clear structure and well researched content; consider pausing more and move with purpose for even greater connection with the audience.” Then a finishing line, that’s relevant and connects to the opening line.

6. Write up evaluation in Manual

Remember to do this for the Speaker.

7. Buy the speaker a drink

Remember: “When you give feedback, you have the chance to build people up or to tear them down”. Take the opportunity to check with the speaker what their reaction to your feedback is – it’s a chance for you both to clarify meaning and understanding, to build a solid bridge for future engagement and mutual learning and development.

The F Word – April 3rd

What four letter word, beginning with F, comes to your mind when you think about speaking in public?

Yes, FEAR. Yet everyone managed to talk about “What fear have you faced and learnt from?”, for no more than the allocated 20 seconds as part of the Warm Up session, led by Phoebus – quite possibly due to his infectious smile and the inspiration gained from hearing each other’s experiences. A common theme was the fear of standing up and speaking in public. And, in facing that fear, the confidence that grows, especially in a supportive environment like Toastmasters.

TM for the evening was Costa, fresh from his travels to South Africa. In his usual relaxed style, he navigated us through the Agenda. Paul Dowdeswell gave an entertaining C6 speech on “Bananas” and how not to eat one; while Peter Parker’s Advanced Speech, “Not in My Name”, was an impassioned plea trying to persuade us that the EU was a racist, undemocratic and nationalistic set-up. Evaluating Peter’s speech was Patrick, who commended Peter on his powerfully emotive and passionate stance, and recommended he could improve by offering a more balanced view by addressing the benefits of the EU, thus allowing the audience to appreciate a less one-sided position, and thus hopefully endearing us more to Peter’s position.

Penny delivered an Educational session about the use of story-telling in speeches, taking us through the common structure behind most of the best stories ever told: 1. the Set Up (who, where, what’s going on); 2. the Struggle (something goes wrong, the problem); and then 3. the Solution.

A more sophisticated story structure is that of the Hero’s Journey, as identified by author Joseph Campbell, whom Penny quoted from: “The cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek”. In other words, you’ll find the treasure you want when you face your fears.

When Dave Goodman, as Topics Master, introduced this session, any residual fear was replaced with incredulity and hilarity. He invited two people up at once, with one speaking about a topic whilst the other person had to act out what was being said. Topics ranged from how to keep warm and advanced circus skills, to modern driving etiquette and wrestling wild animals. Somehow, through much raucous laughter, Dave Lane and myself managed to distil some commendations and recommendations to our six brave Topics speakers. Well done to guest Alex Goodman for winning Best Topics’ speaker – Alex definitely is a chip off his father’s block!

Our General Evaluator was our previous long-serving member, June McCullough, who found time away from her garden and many pursuits to return for an evening to our Club. Fortunately, June noticed very few um’s or ah’s (sigh of relief), and was delighted to see so many new faces, but was a little disappointed that many members were absent. Thanks to June for returning – it’s always good to see past members back for a visit.

ESC President