Pump Up the Volume to Eliminate 'Ums & Ahs'

Speak Louder to Eliminate filler WordsAll public speakers struggle at one time or another with “fillers.” The “ums” and “ahs” pop up unexpectedly in our tales, stories, and demonstrations.

The most common advice speakers in training receive are to pause – let the words come to you mentally without reaching for fillers. But what if the cure was the opposite?

In “Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker“, author David Nihill offers a suggestion for how to erase the “ah,” “eh,” and “buts” in your next speech. His suggestion: speak up.

“By speaking as little as 20 percent louder than normal, you will reduce the number of filler words you tend to use.” According to Nihill, it is harder to say the “ehs” and “ahs” at a pumped up volume.

While it may feel strange at first, but the higher-than-normal voice will seem normal to your audience. It may even enhance your audience’s ability to hear and understand you.

Next time you take center stage at work or in a Toastmaster’s meeting, pump up the volume and see how many filler words pop into your presentation.

Let us know if it works for you!

Happy speaking!

 

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My Secret (Public) Speaking Sauce

Public Speaking Secret Sauce to Calming Nerves“What’s the best public speaking advice you have to offer?”

One of the District 96 Toastmasters I follow on Facebook posted the above question. I didn’t have to think long before the answer popped into my mind.

I’m going to share my secret public speaking sauce with you; the ritual that plays out in my mind before I take the stage to deliver a speech at our Toastmasters club. Ready for it?

I call my mother.

No, not really, but in my mind as part of a mental ritual to calm my nerves, focus my thoughts and connect with my awaiting audience.

Here’s the ritual in full:

1) When the chair calls upon the evaluator to share my speech objectives, I mentally envision myself dialing my mother’s cell phone digits.

2) The chair then reads my introduction, I imagine the phone ringing in my ear, waiting to connect me to my mother.

3) “Please welcome, Weegee Sachtjen.” As the chair calls my name and I walk on the stage, I can hear my mother’s voice, “Well, hello!” She has caller ID, and I can hear the surprise and excitement of the unexpected call from her eldest daughter in her voice.

4) During those few seconds that I take a deep breath and make my initial eye contact with the crowd, I can hear myself say, “Mom, so glad you answered, have I got a story for you!”

5) And I start my speech.

My husband inspired this simple ritual. He heard a practice version of a speech that I wasn’t “feeling.” The speech ticked off the “must haves,” such as gestures and vocal variety. However, it lacked my usual “rompish” touch.

“Tell it like you would tell your mom.”

The stories I tell my mom are nothing short of Tall Tales taken to the nth degree. My family has a flair for the dramatic and embellishments. However, it is also how I connect. It shows my vulnerable and authentic self.

In short, my mom hears all the tabloid stories of my life.

Why this is my best public speaking advice:

1) Speaking Rituals Help Calm Speaking Nerves
Creating a ritual can help ease you over the anxiety threshold that builds up as we prepare to take the stage. A ritual is the shortcut speakers use to fast track their ability to shift into speaker mode. It is a series of thoughts, motions and breathing techniques that help us transition into our speaker stance and confidence. Many speakers refer to “turning on” or “flipping a switch.”

2) A Room Full of Friends Beats A Room Full of Naked People
“Imagine the audience is naked.” Who wants to think of colleagues, coworkers, and clients naked? What if you felt like you were sharing a story, idea or thoughts with your mom, siblings, best friend or partner? It’s a bit more calming and a lot less awkward the next day.

3) We Are Most Vulnerable When We Feel Safe
We share our hearts, struggles, challenges, and triumphs with people who make us feel safe and connected. Imagining that you are talking to best friends or your mom allows your nerves to make the jump that the audience is safe and connected.

4) They Want to Hear Your Story and See You Succeed
Who are your cheerleaders? The ones who want to see you succeed? Who can you say anything too? Your audience. Your audience is on your side. Thinking of them as someone close to you reminds you of this important fact. Yes, it’s a fact.

Maybe calling your mom doesn’t work for you. Experiment with your speaking ritual. Find your own shortcut.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a phone call to finish.

 

___________________________

Submitted by Weegee Sachtjen

 

 

 

 

Naming Your Inner Critic

Naming the Inner Critic - Morningstars ToastmastersIn Toastmasters, we are trained to be great listeners. But there is one voice that could use a bit of the silent treatment.

The Inner Critic.

The Inner Critic is the little voice in your head that casts doubt on your speaking ability. It is the voice that second guesses your word choices or phrases in a conversation. It is the voice that rushes in with “Why didn’t you . . . ” or “You should have . . . ” before the applause even dies down.

It focuses on your weaknesses without offering any props for what you do right.

The Inner Critic robs you of your confidence and leaves self-doubt in its place.

The Inner Critic comes from comments from others or ones we have said to ourselves that have been internalized unchecked. By unchecked, I mean we believe the harsh comments without evaluating their validity or truthfulness. It is persistent negative self-talk that spirals in our heads, keeping us stuck in our Toastmasters journeys.

Last week, one of our newest members, Lowery O., mentioned his Inner Critic in an Icebreaker speech. In fact, his Inner Critic had a name — Harold.

Well, that’s interesting. Naming the Inner Critic.

Does your Inner Critic have a name? No? Perhaps it should.

The best way to break through the cycle of negative self-talk is to confront the statements. Is this the time for critical thinking? Is there truth to what the Inner Critic is saying? If the answer to these questions is no — it is up to us to tell the Inner Critic to pull up a seat and wait.

Or, what I like to do, is send her to the corner until she feels she can join the party with a better attitude.

But the Inner Critic is a part of you. You are addressing yourself.

Naming the Inner Critic helps to separate yourself from the negative thoughts and hear them in a different tone. You would not allow someone else to squash your dreams — hearing your thoughts as if they are coming from a friend helps hear it in a different voice. A voice you can confront.

Evaluate the thoughts for truthfulness and whether this is the appropriate time. Then, confront the Critic.

“Harold, you are not helping in this situation. I will be okay. I will be able to cope with whatever happens.”

The key is to know when to challenge your Inner Critic and know that thoughts aren’t’ always true.

I’ve chosen a name for mine — Ethel. I think this may be the start of a whole new relationship . . . with myself.

The Gift You Bring to Toastmasters Meetings

The Gift of You

“Each of us showed up with our biggest gift and gave it to everyone.”

It was an astute observation that summed up the overall feeling of Wednesday’s Morningstars Toastmasters meeting. A casual statement that spoke about our individual strengths and how they combine to create a “glowing,” energetic meeting. But it was also a reminder of the powerful contributions everyone of us makes weekly.

Sure, we sign up for roles. We craft speeches. We focus on what it is we need to do to help the meeting run smoothly. We give attention to our words, our delivery and the finer points of what is needed to fulfill our roles. But that is such a small part of the bigger picture.

It’s easy to miss the importance that YOU bring to the meeting. Each one of us has a unique trait, quality that is a gift we bring and offer to all those in the room. For some it is their sense of humour. For others, it is their energetic spirit. Perhaps you have a commanding voice. Or an insightful perspective. Each unique trait in us adds a different splash of colour that only enhances the ambiance of Harmony Hall. The more often you share your “gift,” the brighter the picture becomes.

In short, you help to make the meetings. You help to infuse it with a special energy that carries us through for the next six days. You pump up the room. You make us smile. Make us think. Make us want to be a better speaker (or leader!). You.

The positive energy and gifted room wasn’t the only high points of this morning. Here are a few other items of note:

1) Sheila C. inducted THREE new members this morning. Welcome to Neil, Maria and Bertha! Although it was technically their “first” meeting, Bertha filled her first role as Grammarian. Neil and Maria demonstrated their impromptu speaking talents by answering Table Topics questions. Way to go, guys!

2) Katherine S. completed the last project in her Advance Communications Manual. The project, “Communicating With Video,” was a web training program and promotion for her upcoming Creativity Cafe. A home run for her . . . and for our Tech Assist (Liam B.). That’s one manual done!

3) Sheila C. took us to new heights with an entertaining tale about Larry Walker. It was “uplifting” and took the energy to “soaring heights.”

4) William B. gave mad props and highlighted one of our Toastmasters who recently took center stage at the Town of Gibsons City Council meeting: Johanna R. Johanna gave a two minute speech on our organization in conjunction with February 2016 being Toastmasters International Month! (Pssst: More to come on this soon!)

Just a reminder, please sign up for roles for next week’s meeting on Feb. 10. The theme is “Love is . . . “

Take It to the Next Level: The Real Public

As welcoming as Morningstars are, when we first take the stage as newcomers, it can be daunting. We each have our own hangups that make it a challenge to stand up there and speak to a group. As we make our way through the speech projects, parts of it become easier. We start to understand the timing and how to craft a speech that fits within our allotted time. We begin to understand how to structure our content to make it flow easily for the listeners. We learn that the more prepared we are, the less likely our nerves are going to take over and sabotage us. We practise using hand gestures, changing up our vocal tone or volume, and we learn how to authentically connect with Audienceour audience.

Hmmm … yes, our audience. I’ve wondered about this aspect of Toastmasters. Sure, there are members coming and going so the audience is certainly not static, but I feel there is definitely a level of comfort that begins to form as we get to know our fellow members. There is a huge amount of trust being built among members, and that trust is paramount to the confidence that we are building in ourselves. We trust that we are not being “judged” for our speaking ability. We trust that the audience wants us to do well. We trust that members will have good things to say about our latest presentation. And we trust that members will offer us suggestions for improvement, because we trust that they care and they have our best interests for improvement in mind. All of this gives us comfort as we take the stage at Harmony Hall, while each successful project layers more confidence within us.

But what if we step out? What if we step out and dare to speak to an audience we don’t know? Can we? Can we do it? I’ve asked myself this a few times, and my answer toggles between a resounding yes and a deafening no. Many of our members have spoken outside of Morningstars and they seem to have survived, so I might give it a try. Our VP of Public Relations, Johanna, is encouraging members to take part in the Festival of Performing Arts this year in the Speech and Dramatic Arts category. Some members have already signed up! I’m still toggling but by watching other members in the club step out, I am becoming more and more inspired.

Last spring, I watched PJ, Katherine and William take the stage to a full house at the library and they were fantastic! I saw new member Ria take the stage at PowHERtalks in the fall, and was sorry to miss Sandy speaking at the Gibsons Art Gallery. William and Johanna both competed in the Division Tall Tales contest in Vancouver! I heard that Patricia was splendid as she did an author reading in Molly’s Lane recently. PJ has an upcoming gig at the Arts Building. And Katherine–I’m super excited about this one–will be one of the workshop presenters at WoW! A Weekend of Workshops for the Self-Employed being held at FUSE Community Work Hub on Feb 27 and 28, 2016. Her workshop is called Speak With Power and Presence and it combines her knowledge as a voice coach with her skill as a Toastmaster.

Congratulations to all of our members for Speaking Your Mind and Speaking Your Heart both inside and outside of Harmony Hall. You inspire me!

Sheila
VP Membership 2015/16

Resources:

Speaking Outside the Club

Public Speaking OpportunitesMy mentor recently told me that I should extend my learning curve and seek opportunities to speak outside the club. Terrified. The suggestion absolutely terrified me to the core.

Every Morningstar Toastmaster has something in common: We all joined the self-development program to improve public speaking and communication skills. Some of us have careers or roles in the community where we can flex our new speaking skill set, such as client demos or meetings.

What about the rest of us? Are you using what you’ve learned outside the club environment?

How do you go about doing it? Schedule a weekly speech for the listening pleasure of my feline? Ask Mike to pull up a chair at the breakfast bar? As part of Christmas Eve festivities with my family in North Carolina?

There is a certain sense of security in creating speeches and delivering them in the warm, friendly environment of the weekly Toastmaster meetings. Familiar faces make it feel like giving a speech before family and friends. There’s a safety net in knowing that every single smiling face wants you to succeed.

Eventually, there comes a time when we all need to stretch our verbal skills and venture beyond the walls of Harmony Hall. To take that step onto the stage in the “real world.”

I recently had the opportunity to watch one of our Morningstars shine in such a scenario. Our own Ria Q. recently delivered a nine-minute speech as part of the PowHERTalks series in Sechelt. Ria and 16 other women took the stage to talk about their passions, transformations and goals. It was a moving experience. (Brief pause to congratulate Ria on her amazing speech! Mad props!)

So moving, in fact, I went home and applied for the next engagement in Vancouver. I filled out the online application . . . hit send. That’s when the anxiety set in. What would I talk about? Could I talk about something for nine minutes? In a room full of strangers?

Although my application wasn’t selected, I consider the fact that I applied a win. Applying to get up on the stage in front of strangers isn’t something I would have considered six months ago. The fact that I did, tells me that perhaps my mentor was right. Perhaps it is time I learn to fly outside the club.

If you are in a similiar situation, here are a few ways we can engage others outside of Harmony Hall, courtesy of Toastmasters.org:

* Community groups (Rotary, Legion, schools) are often looking for speakers for special events.
* Conference organizers seek good speakers with excellent programs related to the theme
* Check event centers, the Coast Community Calendar and hotels to discover meetings where they may need a presenter, speaker or MC
* Create your own venue. Organize your own workshop, event. FUSE and the Arts Building are always looking for new classes, workshop opportunities to offer the community.

For more information, visit this article “Beyond the Club Experience” (on p. 22).

Table Topics: A Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

ComfortZoneBeing called upon for a table topics speech continues to daunt me, despite having delivered a few and even winning an area contest a few years ago. Training myself to accept that it is just “excitement” rather than “fear” is my intellectual goal. My emotional reservations try to convince me that perhaps this particular speaking skill isn’t really necessary for my wellbeing.

Speaking with mind and heart is important for us all, though. Table topics provides the opportunity to voice a brief synopsis related to the given topic. We have a way to organize our speech and a supportive audience. How fortunate! The skill development is useful at work and at the family dinner table. Owning the two minutes and ensuring our talk is interesting builds our confidence, too.

The theme of today was: “What a difference a day makes”. I wasn’t chosen for table topics today as I had anticipated, because I had forgotten that several weeks ago I had signed up for the Jokemaster role. The joke was on me! Having thought that I could likely be a table topics speaker, I had missed fulfilling the role I really do enjoy. Looking for a relevant joke to match the day’s theme has become quite research-intensive for me when occasions demand it. It is opening up new possibilities for me, too. Lately, I have been preparing for the Tall Tale competition….a challenge to think outside the box.

I was late for the meeting this morning, but so glad that I went. It definitely made a difference to my day, recognizing that being prepared for a speech or a joke is not that different from being prepared to be on time and ready for anything, such as, an unknown table topic. The table topics today included asking about strangers that made an impact and life changing circumstances encountered in our lives.

Table topic questions push us out of our comfort zone and do make us think on our feet. Greeting our fellow members gives us time to relax and decide upon a theme to expound on. The speech doesn’t have to be based on reality; the organization of the speech is the important skill being developed. Bravo to everyone who delivered their table topics speech this morning. It was a good meeting for all!

 

<em>Contributed by Johanna</em>

Table Topics: A Chance to Step Out of Comfort Zone

Table Topics Out of Comfort ZoneContributed by Johanna

Being called upon for a table topics speech continues to daunt me, despite having delivered a few and even winning an area contest a few years ago. Training myself to accept that it is just “excitement” rather than “fear” is my intellectual goal. My emotional reservations try to convince me that perhaps this particular speaking skill isn’t really necessary for my wellbeing.

Speaking with mind and heart is important for us all, though. Table topics provides the opportunity to voice a brief synopsis related to the given topic. We have a way to organize our speech and a supportive audience. How fortunate! The skill development is useful at work and at the family dinner table. Owning the two minutes and ensuring our talk is interesting builds our confidence, too.

The theme of today was: “What a difference a day makes”. I wasn’t chosen for table topics today as I had anticipated, because I had forgotten that several weeks ago I had signed up for the Jokemaster role. The joke was on me! Having thought that I could likely be a table topics speaker, I had missed fulfilling the role I really do enjoy. Looking for a relevant joke to match the day’s theme has become quite research-intensive for me when occasions demand it. It is opening up new possibilities for me, too. Lately, I have been preparing for the Tall Tale competition….a challenge to think outside the box.

I was late for the meeting this morning, but so glad that I went. It definitely made a difference to my day, recognizing that being prepared for a speech or a joke is not that different from being prepared to be on time and ready for anything, such as, an unknown table topic. The table topics today included asking about strangers that made an impact and life changing circumstances encountered in our lives.

Table topic questions push us out of our comfort zone and do make us think on our feet. Greeting our fellow members gives us time to relax and decide upon a theme to expound on. The speech doesn’t have to be based on reality; the organization of the speech is the important skill being developed. Bravo to everyone who delivered their table topics speech this morning. It was a good meeting for all!

 

Contributed by Johanna

A Road Less Traveled May Be the Perfect One

Safety Not Guaranteed Time Travel Robert Frost's Poem

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

The original newspaper advertisement seeking a partner for time traveling was written by John Silveira and published as filler in the September/October 1997 issue of Backwoods Home Magazine.  

In the 2012 movie, “Safety Not Guaranteed”, a jerky reporter and two interns go an assignment to find and profile the person behind the ad. As it turns out, each have an ulterior motive for accepting the assignment: 1) to go back and see something cool; 2) to go back and prevent the death of a loved one; and 3) to travel down the path not chosen with a former love.

The idea of time travel speaks to all of us for it suggests a chance to alter your path by making a different choice. It is a fantasy in which we can pick that one moment in time when we would do something different. A moment we regret or wish we could take back.

Morningstars Toastmasters BC Sunshine CoastAs we sat in the beautiful waterfront yard of Frank C.’s Marina House (and eventually his front room) on Wednesday morning, each of us stood up and talked about a path in life taken that was less traveled (inspired by the Robert Frost poem).

For some, it was a path in which the deviated from what was considered the norm, the right way. For others, it was a path that they were guided down as they were pushed off the current one they walked. A few, sadly, made choices as a means of survival and with little time to evaluate wants.

As a group, we shared stories about conquering our fears. Our tales involved that moment when you knew what was changing inside you would forever impact the direction you choose from this point forward. We heard tales of adventures in foreign lands or how meeting a group learning the ropes of public speaking put a positive spin on their world.

The path may have been rocky, full of doubt in trying something new. There may have even been a void of not knowing what would happen next, if they could even do it. But in all the stories there was a hidden thread of courage. Everyone found a strength inside themselves that they didn’t know they had.

The only thing we didn’t talk about was regret. We didn’t talk about the chance lost, the missed opportunity or that one place in time when we reached a fork in the road and choose poorly. Not even when the ending was far from positive.

It’s just a theory, but I don’t think any of us would have signed up to go on the time travel mission.

The truth of it is, in the end, there’s a reason that path, road was less traveled. It was waiting for just the right person to claim it as theirs. The road less traveled that each of us took — was the absolute perfect one. It made us the strong, unique, funny, witty, adventuresome, welcoming, open, loving and creative people we see in ourselves and others.

Thank you to all of you who shared their stories, their hearts.

A special thank you to Frank C. and his lovely wife, Julie, for hosting and catering such a lovely Toastmasters meeting. It was beautiful and the food was amazing. Thank you.

NEXT MEETING: Greg will be hosting the next meeting. The theme is the Pecha Kucha. Please watch your emails or visit Turbobase for additional details.