Can’t Get No Satisfaction

A giant mouth saying um, ah, so filler wordsThe General Evaluator recently remarked on my “uhms” and “ahs” and “sos.”

Damn. Me! A Morningstar for nine years. I should know better.

I thought I had un-uhm-ed myself. I thought I had licked those waffle words right out of my mouth. But bad habits have crept back into my speechcraft. Which reminds me what Toastmasters is all about—it’s a training.

Every Wednesday morning we show up in training mode. It’s built into the ethos of the program that we can always improve. We should never allow ourselves to think we’ve mastered the art of public speaking.

To quote Mick Jagger, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” and that’s okay, even if my speech evaluations are causing me my 19th Nervous Breakdown.

Speaking of the Rolling Stones, I joined Toastmasters in part because I aspired to strut the stage like Jagger. (I’m not kidding.) It was never going to happen, of course, but speaking on a stage seemed like a do-able option. I quickly forgot about rock stardom, because the speakers I heard blew me away.

One of the biggest challenges I discovered was weeding out those weed-words. The very ones that have crept back into my presentations. It makes me wonder if I’ve been coasting on my laurels (CC. CL, ACB. ALB). Am I guilty of treating Morningstars as a social club and not the training program it’s meant to be?

Have I forgotten that improvement is the name of the game?

Come to think of it—many rock stars could benefit from a visit to Morningstars.

Rock stars are always mumbling. For the longest time I thought the Beatles were singing: “I want to hold your ham.” And the Eurhymics were saying: “Sweet dreams are made of cheese.”

And for sure Dylan’s famous song went: “The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind.” And what group was it who sang: “Hey, you, get off of my cow…”?

If you see a rock star before next Wednesday, invite them to our meeting.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on un-ah-ing myself.

The Tricks to Table Topics

Toastmasters Table Topics TricksTable Topics is a long-standing Toastmasters tradition intended to help members develop their ability to organize their thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic.

On Sept. 20, Morningstars Toastmasters Club will put the impromptu speaking skills of its members to the test with the Table Topics contest. To help you take your next Table Topics speech to the next level, contest or not, here are a couple of tips!

1) Own the Question
Whether it is in competition or during your regularly scheduled meeting, focus not on your thoughts but the question. Think, believe, that this question is YOUR QUESTION. The one specifically meant for you. This focuses your thoughts on what the speaker is saying . . . and not the panic-filled thoughts going through your head.

2) Breathe
Doing something that your body does naturally gives you time to calm your nerves and think about what it is you want to say. Also, taking a moment to ground yourself helps to ease the tension in your body and mind.

3) Go With First Instinct
Often times, our minds sift through a stack of ideas, vetoing this one or that as not being the ideal one. Go with the gut. Take the first thing that pops into your mind and run with it. There was a reason it jumped up and said, “Pick me.”

4) Pick Your Premise
This is when you seize your idea and make your statement. Form your opinion and share it with others. “My favourite holiday is . . . ” This gives your mini speech the beginning foundation and something to build upon.

5) Add Structure
Insert a structure into your speech that will help bridge the gaps between thoughts. Whether it is pros vs cons or three main points, this will help to elaborate your premise.

My favorite is the “Six Honest Serving Men” from Kipling’s poem:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

Answering the “What, Why, When, How, Where and Who” in my story help to trigger ideas of discussion that lead to a roughed out speech.

6) Share What You Know
Put a bit of you into each mini speech. Share your favourite quote, anecdote, view or experience. Pick something that helps to illustrate the topic and drive home your point.

7) Know When to Say When
Often times in Table Topics, we start off slow and then gather steam as our minds warm to the ideas running full speed through our heads. But knowing when to pull the brakes, summarize and take a seat helps to end your speech with punch.

Now is the time to put your Table Topics speaking to the test! Table Topics will beo ne of the fall contests held at Morningstars Toastmasters meeting on Wed., Sept.20 at 7am at Harmony Hall.

To sign-up to compete or to help with the contest, please contact our VP of Education, Neil Booth.

Grow Your Speaking Skills with Tall Tales Contest

Tall Tales Competition Morningstars September 20This Fall, Morningstars Toastmasters club will be holding a Tall Tall and Table Topics competition at Harmony Hall at 7 am on September 20, 2017, as part of the fall contests for Toastmasters.

Tall tales? What’s a tall tale contest? Why do we have them?

Glad you asked!

The Tall Tales contest was developed to help Toastmasters with one of the most important aspects of public speaking: storytelling.

Storytelling helps the speaker connect with the audience. By focusing on what makes a great story, how to enhance your story and ways to deliver a compelling story,  the contest helps competitors take their public speaking skills to a new level.

In short, the contest is a way for you to further presentation and speech development skills by creating a speech with exaggerated details.

While the story development is important, it is the delivery that makes up the majority of the judging points (55%). This includes vocal variety, body gestures, pausing and facial expressions.

A couple of rules and regulations you should know before entering the Tall Tales competition this fall:

  • 3 – 5 minutes in length (disqualification occurs at less than 2:30 or over 5:30)
  • Content is selected and written by the participant
  • Subject must contain exaggerated elements, hyperbole
  • Speech must have a theme or plot (no one liners or monologue)

For complete details on the contest, please consult the 2017 – 2018 Rulebook by clicking here. 

Interested in participating in the Tall Tale Contest on Sept. 20? Let our VP of Education (Neil B.) know. Want to chair the contest? Also, let Neil B. know about your interest!