Is It a Speech or Is It a Performance?

With the Toastmasters World Championships coming up in August, lots of Toastmasters all over the world are practising and getting coaching for their speeches as they prepare to represent their district at the top level.

One of the areas of recent discussion in clubs has been the trend toward making the speech more of a performance than a speech.  A recent article by Darren LaCroix, former World Champion, gives an excellent perspective on the influence of TED Talks, and on where the speaking trend is going at the international level.

Read more about it here.

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Mountains to Climb

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Picture this.

The alarm goes at 5:30 am. John hits the alarm button and rolls out of bed. He has to get to Harmony Hall and have the coffee on, and the room set up. Today is the club level speech contest for the International Speech and Evaluation Contests.

alarm clock6 am arrives. Across town, the speech contestants are also rolling out of bed. Do they have time to practise their speeches for the contest one more time? Did they have any questions pop into their heads, such as, “What was I thinking?” If they did, we’ll never know. Come contest time, they were THERE.

In other parts of the community, people were getting up ready to be judges, timers, counters, and evaluation contestants. Sharon, our Chair for the contest, was preparing for the first of two challenges for the day. (More later on her second challenge.)

Having converged on Harmony Hall by 7 am, everyone prepared for their particular role in the contest.

Themes emerged in the speeches such as:

  1. If we want people to listen to us we have to get to the point.
  2. Listening is showing others we appreciate them.
  3. If something goes wrong in life, dealing with it now is better than a kick in the pants later.

Wow, what meaningful and diverse topics. Cue applause.

After the speech portion of the contest, Ben delivered his test speech, intriguing everyone with his question, “If someone told you they saw a bear riding a bicycle in Gibsons, would you believe them?”

Our evaluation contest participants, all wide awake by now, delivered their evaluations of Ben’s speech.

Sharon announced the winners of the two contests. Prizes were awarded, and the meeting came to an end.

Oh  wait, I forgot to mention the winners.

Congratulations to PJ and Cathie for the speech contest, and Sandy and Alicia for the evaluation contest. They will have the opportunity to do it all again in the Area Contest on April 4th, 2 pm at Harmony Hall.

Morningstars disperse to their various locations. But they will be reconvening later. We’re not done yet.

It’s now 4:30 in our red letter day.

Several members of Morningstars arrive at the Gibson’s Library to facilitate a Presentations Skills Workshop for the Chamber of Commerce.

The Morningstars team, with careful planning by able team leader Sheila, is ready. The room fills, the buzz quiets, and the workshop begins.

There are three parts to the presentation.

  1. Getting to the point, a revised version of PJ’s winning speech from the morning
  2. How to speak with presence so your audience will engage with your message, by Katherine.
  3. How to use effective visuals, by William.

Sharon stepped up to her second challenge of the day and chaired the event with her usual poise.

Kudos to Donna from the Chamber for making the whole thing happen, and to Larry, Loretta, Judy Lynne, and Ben for their assistance.

Questions are asked. Workshop ends. Crowd chats. Room slowly clears. Chairs restored to order.

Red letter day over. Is there another red letter day in Morningstars future?

Time will tell.

Cue final credits.

Lessons from Nature

Written by Johanna, VP of PR

Today is the morning after the most recent Morningstars Toastmaster’s meeting.

Many thanks to Judy Lynne for chairing the meeting so early in her Toastmaster’s journey. She received her Icebreaker pin today, and is well on her way for her next speeches.

Her Icebreaker speech a few weeks ago continues to resonate for many of us in the club. Her message about encouraging local youth to participate in Outward Bound opportunities is a result of her sharing her life’s work with others after the death of her son. Judy Lynne personifies authenticity as she crafts her speeches for clarity and purpose.

PJ’s evaluation of my fourth project in the Advanced Storytelling manual was encouraging, especially because I experienced difficulty staying in the emotions of empathy and concern which I had planned and prepared to deliver as a key part of the project.

Reflecting on how this unfolded at the meeting, I learned that telling the story in the third person rather than first has the potential effect of losing touch with my own inner direction or grounding (as Katherine referred to in her speech that followed mine).

Katherine shared the highlights of the workshop that she will be c0-presenting at the Chamber of Commerce event next week. Using a visual display and body gestures effectively, she captured our interest in signing up for the workshop. Katherine’s Toastmaster’s knowledge and voice coaching background shone through her presentation to us, and was a model of  “practice what you teach”.

Both speeches from Advanced Manuals prove that as we follow the guidance from the speech manuals and apply it to real life situations, much personal development is achieved over time.

As I look forward to the rest of the week, and our International Speech Contest at our next meeting, I once again recognize how supportive our club is and how, with each project or role we take on at each meeting, we grow in our speaking confidence and our ability to understand each others’ progress.

As Loretta declared in her toast to nature (our theme for the day was “Lessons from Nature”), we are all connected and we each have unique messages to contribute to a thriving Coastal Morningstars Club.

Dogs With Jobs — Whatever Next?

Today’s post written by PJ Reece

Congratulations to Sheila Cameron and Sandy Wrightman for winning this morning’s contests—Tall Tales and Table Topics respectively.

Here are two Morningstars members at vastly different stages in their development as speakers — Sandy an accomplished DTM and Sheila with just three CC speeches to her credit. From where I sat—first row—both of them took giant steps forward this morning.

Sandy Wrightman owned the stage with her response to the Table Topic question: “How has living on the Sunshine Coast influenced your sense of identity?” Sandy proved just how important a role is played by enthusiasm, presence, and crisp declarative sentences.

dogSheila crafted (for my money) the perfect Tall Tale about her husband’s dog. It started off mundane (what’s more mundane than a dog?), then established that the dog was bright, and before we knew it the dog was earning a living behind the wheel to pay off its debts.

I’m proud of Sheila! Not least because I’m her mentor. Unfortunately I couldn’t assist her with this competition because I, too, competed. Next time, I’m seeking her help. Seriously, her Tall Tale was a model performance. (We would be wise to film it for future reference…Club Secretary, please make note of that.)

Thanks to everyone who showed up. And thanks to those who got involved as judges, timers, and counters, and especially our Contest Chair, Johanna Rzepa.

Sometimes, at the club level, all the contest paperwork and process seems like overkill. But I keep reminding myself that at Toastmasters we’re always training for leadership roles in the wider community. And what a great environment is Morningstars in which to practice, practice, practice.

Speaking of which, next week it’s back to our regular meeting. The theme is “The Root of the Problem.”

Hmm… seems no one has yet signed on as Toastmaster. Trust me, chairing a meeting is easier than coming up with a winning Tall Tale!

Maybe Sheila’s dog would like to step up and give it a try.

 

Noteworthy:

The Area Contest on the 4th has been cancelled.

Open House Breakfast Meeting Oct 8, 7 am.
Guests are most welcome and bring a friend.
The Table Topics Contest will also be held at this meeting.

In Fantasy Land With Morningstars

Today’s post written by Johanna R, VP of PR

This morning’s meeting’s theme was “In Fantasy Land”, and our Chair, William, epitomized the occasion by wearing a pirate’s attire. “Arrrrrrrrgh”. (Why are pirates so handsome? They just Arrrrrrrrrrgh”)

In his introduction, William made us all think about the idea that fantasies are great because they help us focus on our dreams.

Table Topics kept the fantasy theme alive, beginning with Greg’s, who took us on a creative adventure to areas unknown but vividly expressed.

Elvis then took his elderly aunt to the same place and Alicia shared how fantasy was more her husband’s family tradition whereas hers was more one of history reality.

Kate facilitated the Table Topic presentations with the rolling of three dice, all speakers having different symbols to draw their stories from.

There were two excellent speeches. The first from Katherine, who was interviewed by Sandy around the idea of encouraging/challenging the young audience to put away their cell phones for awhile to see how IT devices impact our face-to-face communication with others. Free Your PHone!

The second speech was delivered by Cathie. It was an impassioned appeal to us all to be aware that the country’s newest home census questions do not necessary reflect all Canadians’ input. We need to maintain our globally respected census standards.

At the end of our meeting, we announced the Breakfast Open House plans for Oct. 8th well as our Table Topics and Tall Tale Contest next week. Three members signed up right away as contestants.

Johanna will be chairing the next meeting and will follow-up this week with recruiting 2 more judges, and 3 counters for the event.

It will be fun. Come join us at Harmony Hall next Wed at 7 am.

The Power of Letting Go

Darren LaCroix is a World Champion Toastmaster. In a recently article he describes what it takes to be a champ, and it might not be what you think. (Watch a clip from this years winner, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi)

Wisdom from the New Champ
By Darren LaCroix

This weekend, while playing disc golf with Steve Pavlina, author of Self Development for Smart People, we started talking about the longevity of our speaking careers. He said that when he started, he treated speaking as a presentation or a performance, which put up a wall between himself and the audience. He often felt that he had to impress them, to build rapport, and to win them over. At that time, Steve said, he focused on content and delivery, his primary tools for engaging with a room full of strangers. Great insight.

In contrast, Steve noted, “These days, I regard speaking as a conversation. Now my focus is on the audience. I treat them as my best friends, so there’s never any ice to break.”

Read more….

Welcome Back ~ New Beginnings

Welcome Back Kotter reminiscences. Amping up the energy by way of the can-can. Four very welcome guests. Two speeches and  a tall tales mini workshop. Name changes. References to the International Speech Competition.  Announcements about upcoming contests and our open house breakfast. Every chair filled.

Those are just some of the things that were part of our first meeting of the regular fall schedule. The theme was New Beginnings and there were lots of those.

Patricia inspired us with her invitation to real reality, not virtual reality, as she told us the story of one competitor in the finals of the International Speech Competition. His first lines were I don’t have a speech. What courage and heart he demonstrated as he talked about competition and perfection. He didn’t win, but no one will forget Chris Woo.

Johanna and PJ entertained with two speeches from the Entertaining Speaker Manual. PJ took us to the movies with Movies and the Meaning of Life. Johanna hooked us all with her tall tale, Keeping Gibsons Great. We suspected, but didn’t know for sure, that the four women in her story were not really in jail. She then followed up with a tall tales mini workshop in preparation for the contest on Sept 24.

Frank and William (who announced that he is now William instead of Bill) were excellent evaluators for the two speeches.

We all got an A for listening this morning as Greg, our Quizmaster, couldn’t stump us with his questions.

Sharon as Grammarian, Larry as Timer, John as Jokemaster, Kay as Table Topics Master and PJ and David as Table Topics Evaluators fulfilled their roles with aplomb.

The meeting was rounded out with Cathie presenting her comments and suggestions as General Evaluator.

Thank you to our guests Frank, Heather, Joanne and Kate. It was great to meet you.

Upcoming dates:

Sept 24 Tall Tales and Table Topics Contest
Oct 4 Area Contest for Tall Tales and Table Topics
Oct 8 Open House Breakfast ~ All Welcome

 

Area 73 Contest Review

Written by Ben R.

Last Saturday I was at the Area 73 Speech Contest.

This was the first contest where I stayed from the beginning to the end.  I stayed extra long after the meeting to eat a delicious Nanaimo bar and some other things.

It was good to see Judyth running the meeting. It was first time for me to see her interviewing people in a official capacity and I enjoyed seeing her in a new role.   Two of the four speeches were unfamiliar to me so I was particularly interested.   Bill added some new inspiration element in his speech and I liked it.  Bubbly Sharon talked about saving energy.  Two other speakers, Kate and Paula, came from other clubs on the coast.

Personally I wanted to hear some other great speakers that I recall from the past contests but I guess they played judge roles and I highly appreciate them for doing that.

Of course the main thing for me was doing the test speech. Four speakers spent 2-3 mins each giving me very valuable feedback.   This was helpful to understand what each evaluator was telling me.   One thing I remember well is what the Evaluation Contest winner Sandy said about “telling the listener what’s in it for them”. Other reviewers generally told me that my speech content is not easy to follow. They all gave me some practical suggestion to try to improve the clarity of my ideas. Thanks to this great feedback system I am extra excited to deliver new speeches!

It was exciting to deliver speeches to a new audience. With more practice, we might start feeling like speaking to a family member over a ho-hum dinner!

Overall it was great to have almost two meetings in a week to get twice as much out of the week in terms of public speaking.

Area 73 Contest Winners
strong>International Speech Competition
First Place Paula H
Second Place Sharon B

Evaluation Contest
First Place Sandy W
Second Place Cathie R

Congratulations to the winners who now move on to the Division Contest in Vancouver on Apr 19.

Let the Games Begin!

Normally, Toastmasters is not a competitive arena. Far from it. As the banner says—the slogan that overlooks our every meeting—“Evolving Together, Shaping Our World.”

Twice a year, however, we evolve through the process of spirited competition.

March 19, 2014, 7 am
Harmony Hall, Gibsons
Morningstars Toastmasters Club
International Speech Competition
& Speech Evaluation Contest

Here’s what you need to know:

Three Speech contestants and four Evaluation contestants have boldly stepped forward. It’s not too late to join them. Contact us if you’d like to be added to the list of competitors, or if you’d like more information about the competitions.

We also have a stellar lineup of three judges, one chief judge, two timers, counters, and who knows what else. I’m the contest chair and am climbing a steep learning curve on the way to running a smooth show.

If you don’t have a role, you do now—audience! What’s a blood sport without applauders and appreciators.

And bring a friend. Guests welcome, as usual.

Please note: we are assembling at Harmony Hall even earlier than usual. By 7 a.m. all contestants and judges start their briefing sessions. The show starts shortly after that.

See you there!