Are You Showing Deception In Your Speeches?

I am one of those writers that harbours a secret fear that someone, somehow will discover what has been recently entered into my search engine. Mostly because, well, it’s a little bit scary.

While researching 911 calls and transcripts for a murder mystery I am crafting, I stumbled upon a website dedicated to statement analysis. In short, statement analysis is determining if a person is lying or telling the truth by analyzing the subject’s use of language in 911 calls, police interrogations, news coverage interviews and courtroom testimony.

I know what you are thinking — pseudoscience. Okay. Okay. I’ll give you that. There’s a huge error of margin in this due to nerves, verbal ticks, shock, habits and cultural or interpersonal differences. You can take it or leave it.

Deception Red Flags in Toastmaster SpeechesAs a Toastmaster, I find it fascinating how our choice of words (including the number three) may have the opposite impact upon our audience as we intended.

As we learned in Project 4 “How to Say It” of our Competent Communication manual, “words are powerful. They convey your message and influence the audience and its perception of you. Word choice and arrangement need just as much attention as a speech organization and purpose.”

According to Mark McClish, a retired Deputy United States Marshal with 26 years of federal law enforcement experience, on his website ( “people’s words will betray them . . . The key is to listen to what people are telling you and to know what to look for in a statement.”

What are the deception red flags? Here are a few things McClish and statement analysts look for when seeking signs of untruthfulness:

The Number Three
According to McClish, “I have found that when deceptive people have to come up with a number they will often use the number three . . . (It) has become known as the “liar’s number.”

Story Breakdown

When a person is describing an incident his story will be comprised of three segments: What the person was doing BEFORE the incident; what they were doing DURING; and what they did AFTER.

Truthful stories will generally follow a pattern of 25/50/25 (before/during/after). However, deceptive stories, according to McClish, have a ratio of 35/50/15. They need to set the stage for their tale while trying to work out the details for the conclusion.

Question with a Question
When someone answers a question with a question (or even repeating the question), this is a stall tactic, as we know from Table Topics.

“Really”/ “Very”
The use of “really” as a descriptor can be deceptive for it is trying to add importance, stretch a particular area. “I hit him really, really hard.” Over emphasis without substance.

“You Know”
According to McClish, deceptive people use this phrase to tell you that “you know this.” They expect you take for granted what they are saying is the truth. However, if the phrase occurs a lot, it is a speech pattern.

Non-Committal Words
Words or phrases such as: “kind of,” “I think,” “I thought,” “I don’t know,” “about,” “like” and “sort of.” These distant the speaker from the event or his participation. Trying to recall but not really a part of. Not to blame.

In short, use clear, simple, vivid and forceful words that add excitement to your presentation while utilizing good grammar and pronunciation. Use concrete, specific words that communicate what you mean and simple statements that are easy to understand.  Avoid the red flags of deception.

Happy writing!





10 Speeches . . . And Then What?

Have you thought about what your Toastmaster goals may be? Where you want to take your “degree” in public speaking? Your major?

Me neither.

In fact, my goal was to make it through the 10 speeches outlined in the Competent Communications (CC) manual. That was it. Nothing further.

However, I now stand on the threshold of completing my CC manual, or Freshman Year at Toastmaster University as I like to call it and I can’t help but wonder, “And then what?”

I am not in Toastmasters to acquire skills to use in my career. I am not looking to gain public speaking experience so I can address town council or further charity organizations volunteer recruitment goals.

“And then what?” My mom, husband and fellow Toastmasters asked.

Good question. I will have to get back to you on that.

What is it I want to gain from Toastmasters? Where do I see this going after I finish my first two manuals? Do I want to work my way through the levels to Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM)? Attend meetings, fulfill roles but just be content with the social aspects?

Toastmasters Advanced Communications SeriesAnd then I found page 83 in my CC manual: The Complete Listing of the Advanced Communication Series. After completing 10 speeches, members apply for the CC award (Competent Communicator). With a “handsome” certificate, you will also receive TWO Advance Communication manuals of your choice.

Or, to bring back the university analogy, now I get to pick my major.

The Advanced Communication Series trains you for speaking situations you may encounter OUTSIDE of your Toastmasters Club, drawing on the fundamentals you learned in the CC. Each manual is a niche crash course (five speeches) to further personal life goals, such as:

Speeches by Management
Managers encounter a variety of speaking situations in the work environment. This manual offers instruction in giving briefings, providing feedback, persuading and inspiring an audience to accept change, and delivering bad news.

This one ups your career game, but it also shows you how to interact with people regarding sensitive issues. This can be used on the job, on softball teams or volunteer staff.

Communicating on Video
Video presentations require special preparation and attention to details. Learn how to present an editorial, appear as a guest on an interview program, host an interview program, conduct a press conference and use video to train.

I’m thinking anyone looking to start a YouTube channel or online webinar series would love this one. Also, many aspects of our day to day occurs on video, such as Skyping with the grandparents or vlogging (video blogging).

A good story enhances your speech and makes it memorable. This manual offers instruction in telling folk tales, personal stories, stories with morals, emotional stories and stories about historical events or people.

Stories are how we connect to those around us. This one is great for developing your own style for sharing at cocktail parties, family reunions or bowling night.

Specialty Speeches
Speakers are often called on to give different kinds of talks. This manual contains informaton about giving those considered most common: impromptu talks, preparing inspirational speeches, selling a product, reading aloud and introducing a speaker.

As a Toastmaster, you have a skill set many people don’t. Organizations, school and companies look for people who can get up, give a speech or host an event. Put your skills to use.

And many more . . .

As you work through your Competent Communications manual, think about the areas of your life, career or communication that could use a bit of strengthening. Look over the Complete Listing of The Advanced Communication Series to see what speaks to you. Find your major, minor or continuing education class at Toastmasters University.  Chart your own course.

After ten speeches . . . that’s where the real fun begins.

Oh, and for those inquiring minds, my “and then what” is Specialty Speeches and Storytelling.