Saturday, April 30, 2011

Secrets of Speaking Success

After a hiatus of a few months due to a change in work portfolio, I have finally managed to wrestle some semblance of control. I have resumed my favorite pastimes - reading, writing and yes, speaking.

I booked a speaking slot in my Toastmasters club and delivered the promise to myself - to keep my journey of self-improvement. I deeply believe in the Toastmasters program of learning by doing. It has been a life-transformational journey which is still evolving.

Tonight, I will like to share with my readers the "Secrets of Speaking Success" which I have delivered for my first advanced project for Speaking to Inform. I hope you too can benefit from it.

The Secrets of Speaking Success


There once was an eight-year old girl who was extremely shy and reserved. Alas, she was thrusted into limelight when her teacher signed her up for a story telling contest. She chose the option of avoidance - not to think about it until that fateful day. She stood on stage, froze with fear. In the end, the teacher had to lead her off stage. I was the girl.

By a show of hands, how many of you are currently having or used to have phobia speaking? [Pause] I see that almost all in the room raise their hands.

Fret not, help is at hand. This is the Competent Communicator Manual that you will have when you join any Toastmasters Club. It is in the welcome package sent right to your doorsteps.

Today, I will like to share with you on how this manual will make you a better speaker. There are 10 projects in the guide and you can divide them into three levels – beginner, immediate and advanced.

Beginner level projects are projects 1 to 3. 1 is on Ice Breaker for you to know the speaking skills you already have and what are the areas to improve upon. Thereafter, you will move on to Project 2 and 3 to learn about structure in a speech – opening, body and ending; and what you want your audience to do or to know at the end of the speech. For example, in my case, I will want my audience to have an overview of what the Competent Communicator manual covers.

After the basics are the in place, you will move on the Immediate stage in Projects 4 to 6. In project 4 we learn to use vivid and expressive words. For example, when I say, I stroll, I walk, I sprint, I zoom. The words, stroll, walk, sprint, zoom refers to moving from one place to another using our legs, but there is a different speed associated to each word. You will also learn to create music using words. Eg, I zoom and zonked out. Zzzzz… Project 5 is on body language – a confident person is confident because he is congruent in his action. How would you perceive a speaker who say yes and do this (shaking the head). But these are the things which we do subconsciously when we are nervous. Project 6 on vocal variety, so when you talk be careful of not doing this “I am going to share with you on the ten projects in the Competent Communicator manual.” This is a sure way to get people to go to sleep. By the way, vocal variety also includes pauses. [Pause]. I pause because I want to STRESS that having pauses are important. So we can pause before we say something important.

Finally, after completing these projects, you will find yourself several notches up in your public speaking skills. Then you can proceed to the Advance stage in project 8 to 10, whereby you will learn how to use different visual aids in project 8, learn to persuade others and finally, having inspired in the Toastmasters journey, it is your turn to inspire others in finale project – project 10.

Before embarking on the Toastmasters’ Journey, I was groping the dark before any business presentation. And because, it was so dark, I could not see, there was a lot of fear. Then there is light and the secrets of speaking success are revealed to me.

Learning public speaking is like learning swimming. Can you learn swimming just by reading books or attending a 3-day crash course? [Pause] Naturally, I was crashed.

The magic of the Competent Communicator module is that you do not need to complete all the 10 projects to be better. After each speaking assignment, you will be better. That is the law of nature. It is just that we have to battle that lousy feeling of defeat initially especially when we are no good. But in the Toastmasters’ Club, we provide a safe environment for you to practice. Remember successful people do things NOT because they are good. They DO, SPEND TREMENOUS AMOUNT OF TIME ON IT TO BE GOOD.

I hope to see fellow toastmasters to register for their next time speaking slot. For guests who are looking to improve their speaking skills, hesitate no more, sign up with our club today, reward is within your reach.

Back to you Toastmaster of the Evening.

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