The Wall, the Wobble, and the Wilderness

a wall with a door in it. Toastmasters are always improving their craft. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes wonder ‘what was I thinking’ when we committed to giving a particular speech. Especially when it’s the night before and we’re panicking and hitting a wall.

Hard.

Maybe it’s not coming together and we’re worried we’ll look like idiots.

Or maybe it’s the wrong topic that has us in a panic.

Maybe it’s just not quite the right fit. Recently, someone had one speech ready and then when the moment came, she felt inspired, and delivered a completely different speech that what she’d planned.

Hmmmmm…

What if it’s about taking a bigger risk and stepping on to a new learning edge? What if feeling unprepared just means the process for creating speeches has changed from the first moment we stand behind the lectern and deliver (or read!) our Icebreaker speech?

This idea was brought home to me in my recent experience giving a speech about the Wall, the Wobble, and the Wilderness..

And one other W too. You can read more about it here.

Advertisements

What's Your Motive? The Why Your Audience Needs to Know

Your Story Audience ToastmastersWhat’s your motive?

Detectives work long hours, interviewing family and friends to figure out the “why” in every crime. The motive.

In a court of law, it isn’t necessary to prove motive. It is not an element of many crimes or can be hard to decipher (serial killers), but proving motive often makes it easier to gain conviction.

Motive describes the reasons in the accused’s history, background, prior relationships or station in life that could have led to the moment when he/she made the choice to commit the crime. Motives are oftentimes broken down into three categories; biological, social and personal. It’s where the drama is. This is where the affairs reside, the allegations of abuse come forward or pressure to have funds to live like the Jones’.

It answers the “why.” And people want to know the “why” in criminal cases and your speech.

So, I ask you, what is your motive? What lead to this moment? To this speech? What are you trying to tell your audience? Why?

It is important to tell your story. Incorporate a bit of you into your speech. Each of us is playing a lead role in a constant unfolding story that no one else could write. It is our history, background, prior relationships or station in life that has given us our unique spin.

It doesn’t have to be center stage in every speech, blog — but knowing where you are coming from, your motive, will help you to engage your audience. Like a jury, your audience wants to know what lead to this moment. They want to see a slice of the real person behind the blog, behind the podium. It’s a connection that will help them see your point of view and feel closer to you.

Answer the why.

What’s your motive?

What’s Your Motive? The Why Your Audience Needs to Know

Your Story Audience ToastmastersWhat’s your motive?

Detectives work long hours, interviewing family and friends to figure out the “why” in every crime. The motive.

In a court of law, it isn’t necessary to prove motive. It is not an element of many crimes or can be hard to decipher (serial killers), but proving motive often makes it easier to gain conviction.

Motive describes the reasons in the accused’s history, background, prior relationships or station in life that could have led to the moment when he/she made the choice to commit the crime. Motives are oftentimes broken down into three categories; biological, social and personal. It’s where the drama is. This is where the affairs reside, the allegations of abuse come forward or pressure to have funds to live like the Jones’.

It answers the “why.” And people want to know the “why” in criminal cases and your speech.

So, I ask you, what is your motive? What lead to this moment? To this speech? What are you trying to tell your audience? Why?

It is important to tell your story. Incorporate a bit of you into your speech. Each of us is playing a lead role in a constant unfolding story that no one else could write. It is our history, background, prior relationships or station in life that has given us our unique spin.

It doesn’t have to be center stage in every speech, blog — but knowing where you are coming from, your motive, will help you to engage your audience. Like a jury, your audience wants to know what lead to this moment. They want to see a slice of the real person behind the blog, behind the podium. It’s a connection that will help them see your point of view and feel closer to you.

Answer the why.

What’s your motive?

Choices, Chances & Changes: The Morning Tide of Toastmasters

Three Cs of Life: Choices Chances and Change

This week’s Toastmasters Summer morning series had the perfect backdrop for the theme — speeches from the CC manuals.  One could hear the gentle lap of waves as three people took center stage in Sharon’s backyard to deliver their speech. The ocean waters repetitive, hypnotic beat was the perfect complimentary background noise to our speeches of choices, chances and changes.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

I (Weegee S.) gave my second speech (but the third in the CC manual) about how CHANCE played a role in my life. After a series of misfortunes, I was given the chance to learn to call for a dragonboat. While I was filling in for a short time, the promotion taught me a valuable lesson in how to handle CHANGE and using my voice effectively to communicate with my support group.

“Destiny is all about the choices we make and the chances we take.”

Sharon K. eloquently delivered her Ice Breaker speech where she talked about the three CHOICES that brought her back to Gibsons, BC time and again. Her tale, told from her own backyard, was about the houses and the property we were sitting in with a filter that gave us a view into how it looked to her as a child. We saw how it changed since then and how it has changed her. She said she initially agreed with her parent’s choice to purchase the waterfront property because it had a tree swing, something that made her happy. It was that feeling that led her to make the two other choices to return to Gibsons — to stay.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” — John C. Maxwell, public speaker and leadership expert

One of the things each of us does daily without putting much thought into it is communicate with others. Conversation is a fine art that many of us overlook, neglect or have let our skills fall to the wayside. However, it is a necessary skill to take a chance encounter and change it into a lifelong friendship. Sheila C., in a speech from the Advanced Interpersonal Communications manual, showed identified techniques to use when conversing with strangers and the different levels of conversation (small talk, fact disclosure, viewpoints and opinions and personal feelings). She offered us a way to CHANGE how we interact with fellow Toastmasters, the grocery store clerk and even people in our lives who could use a promotion in how we classify them.

The morning meeting was topped off by a round of Table Topics, random questions picked out of an envelope for those willing to be put on the spot. It is no wonder that each participate picked the one question best suited for them. Lucky choice? By chance?

The overall theme here is that each of us have signed up for change. Change in how we communicate. Change in our confidence. Change in how we present ourselves professionally and in small talk scenarios.  Each of us have made a choice and taken a chance on each other in Toastmasters to make that change. A process that is one step closer with every speech, evaluation or Table Topic discussion.

We are changing. And it only gets better from here!

Contributed by Weegee S.

NOTE: Special thank you to Sharon K. for hosting the morning meeting and offering a fantastic location for our speeches.

Next meeting will be on August 26th, hosted by Katherine. Check TurboBase and your emails for details!

Racing Time… or Not!

Written by Johanna R, VP of PR

Good Evening Fellow Toastmasters and new participants! ( A change from our usual Good Morning Greeting!)

It’s the evening as I sit down to write my thoughts about this morning’s meeting. My day went by quickly with a few unexpected incidents. Luckily, I wasn’t in a hurry, contrary to our theme for today’s meeting, Racing Time.

I learned that lesson first thing at the meeting. As Chair, Katherine shared the idea of grounding ourselves with a deep breath whenever we feel we’re racing time. Remembering to take that moment before our presentations is an effective habit to cultivate.

PJ gave a clear and thought-provoking presentation on Mentoring and what the mentorship/mentee relationship is all about. The relationship helps both parties learn and develop individually, together, and with the Club.

A case in point, my mentee gave me feedback on my Table Topics evaluations while we were driving back to her place on the way to my work in Sechelt today. Her comment? Not perfect…but good recovery. I get that!

Evaluation delivered the Toastmaster‘s way promotes constructive and kind evolution. I am grateful for learning how to give and receive feedback, and communicate ideas with freedom and ease.

Xinju’s second speech from the Competent Communicator was well structured and engaging this morning. The possibility of some of us teaching in China was alive and well, especially as we can just call her for more practical information.

Our Morningstars TM Club is a respectful and entertaining mix of established and new members. The various roles that we sign up for each week do indeed develop our communication and leadership skills. And it’s all done in an atmosphere of energy and laughter – laughter that was very evident this morning when Andrea as Jokemaster smoothly delivered the punchline of her joke.

Congratulations to Sheila who received her Competent Communicator and Competent Leader pins this morning, and to Cathie, who is our incoming Area Director.

Next week’s theme is Fear, the Real Monster.

Forward Motion

Written by Shannon, one of our newest members.

April 29 was yet another example of how “forward moving” this club is! I’ve only just joined and I feel its energy every meeting “propelling” (word of the day) our group members along with our individual goals.

Patricia as Grammarian encouraged us this week to pick words that are “alive and give us energy”, and I’d say this club lives by that ideal! Guests again this week, and next week is our open house. We are going to need a bigger room soon.

Lots of “1st timers” took on roles…Margo as Quizmaster and Ria as Timer. (…and yes, I’ve survived my 4 minute table topics ramble awaiting the red light!)   Next week is my own “1st time timer” and I will find out for myself how hard this role can be. Everyone keeps saying it requires extra focus… so forging on with courage.

William’s inspiration fit our club particularly well with this flavour of both very new and very long standing members, encouraging us to “look for someone to inspire us to positive progress” as we move forward towards our dreams and passions.

Sheila’s speech, her final one for reaching her Competent Communicator goal, took this message further as she moved us through a compelling journey of finding connection by reaching out to others with our deepest values. Johanna’s evaluation called it a “full circle journey” for us all.

Cathie’s “Supermarket Slimming by Design” was an intriguing speech title that sat us right up with a fresh start. As Kay’s evaluation referenced, it really “kicked up the game” for all of us.

Larry’s joke about Dr Young and Dr Geezer produced some hearty chuckles throughout the telling.

Patricia and Kate wrapped up our morning with the Grammarian’s and General Evaluator’s reports. They gave us all final encouragement and sent us out to the day with fresh awareness of how planting specific words into our speeches (and I’d add our lives) can push our messages and intentions. Both their evaluations pushed us further into the words of our speakers this morning and we all went out with the “forward motion” of this club “propelling” us into our day.

Have You Ever Been Misunderstood?

“Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” goes the 60’s song by the Animals.  Our theme for the day Have You Ever Been Misunderstood was very similar.

Who hasn’t been misunderstood? Today stories emerged. Smiles and nods of recognition followed.

One of the pillars of Toastmasters is to strengthen our messages and be understood by others. Well, let’s take understanding on as a theme then!

Structuring our speeches with a strong opening, interesting content to support our topic, and a powerful closing is a way to present our thoughts logically, yes. But more than that, it creates an emotional connection with the listener who really wants to understand us.

Greater clarity in our message is achieved through supporting evidence in the body of our speech. Examples, short stories, and statistics can be used to illustrate our point of view and ‘grab the ears’ of the audience. Who could not relate to ‘madness is the fuel for our brilliance’? Or the phrases ‘whispering hands’ or ‘verbal tap dancing’?

And who jumped out of their seat at the beginning of Sandy’s speech when a long silence was followed by SQUAAAAAWK, an imitation of a steller jay? The sound effects and choice of words along with a well paced speech flow had us mesmerized by her story.

As Table Topics Evaluator this morning, William used a familiar metaphor – “wrapping up our speeches with a bow”, referring to the skill of bringing your audience full circle by using your conclusion to remind them of your opening statement. This provides a gift wrapped in a bow for the audience  to understand.

Strengthening the delivery of our messages strengthens the message itself. Asking ourselves if we were understood after a speech or role motivates us to be intentional with our preparation.

And so we continue our Toastmasters journey.

Noteworthy:

Special breakfast meeting May 6, Harmony Hall, 7 am.
Everyone welcome, and bring a friend.

Out of Time

“Out of Time” was the theme for this morning and contributed to several insights about how adding exceptional touches to our roles can potentially extend the meeting time (a Toastmaster no-no!). But they didn’t this time! Our Chair, Katherine, found a good balance between structure (Chronos time) and natural flow (Kairos time).

Xinyu, as Inspirator, seized the theme with the idea of second chances, as the Chinese New Year was the next day. She handed us all red envelopes with traditional money gifting after the ending, realizing later that she could have delegated this wonderful gesture to someone to keep on time.

Jolanda delivered her second speech and applied the theme in her personal story of an out of body experience. So often when we create change it’s temporary and we fall back to our former way. In Jolanda’s case she encountered a severe accident that led her to new insights. Her speech went over time, perhaps due to the heartfelt lead up events before the accident.

Our Table Topics Master, John, introduced us to two people related to running out of time: Mr Procrastination, and Mr Round Tuit.

Flexibility in the number of Table Topic speakers is a good buffer for making sure the meeting moves forward and ends on time, so our Table Topics were restricted to Ben and Sheila.

We concluded with our General Evaluator William, and left the meeting saying, “Until next time!

Capture the Wind

Written by William, member of Morningstars and current Area 73 Governor.

The theme for the day was “Capture the Wind” and the meeting was ably chaired by Cathie, our Toastmaster for the day.

Word of the Day: Evocative

I always feel welcome walking into the Toastmasters meeting as our Sgt. At Arms, John greets me, shaking my hand and smiling.

Our new member, Judy Lynn carried out the Timer role for first time and while she said she felt challenged, she did an excellent job for her first role, ably assisted by her mentor Sandy.

We had a guest, Bonnie, who was invited by Johanna.

The Inspiration was given by Sheila, who quoted Mark Twain “It takes me a about 3 weeks to prepare an impromptu speech”.   Also, “20 years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did. Cast off the bowlines.” Sheila’s toast was “to our next 20 years”.

There were 3 speeches.

Johanna presented a speech from the Storytelling Advanced Manual and told a story about a trip she took to Murdochville, Quebec.  She demonstrated great facial expressions and vocal variety and inserted wonderful humour. She easily transported us into her story and put us in her pocket for the journey.

The 2nd speaker was Frank who spoke of our creative drives. It was his no. 2 speech in the Competent Communicator manual. Frank is colour blind and took up painting as a hobby, much inspired by an art teacher when he was young. He took us through the journey of his art education and what he terms “his scribbling”.

The 3rd Speaker was Sharon who presented a project from the Successful Club Series and provided insight into the DCP, the Distinguished Club Program. She explained the 10 areas of the program and presented it in a very expressive and enthusiastic style, finishing up with a challenge to the members “what part are YOU going to play in this program”? She emphasized that the program is very much a team effort that takes place each toastmaster year from July 1st to June 30th.

Excellent evaluations were given from Toastmasters Kate, Ben and William.

Kay provided the meeting with a joke that made the meeting erupt in laughter. She and Larry are vying for the title of “best joke teller” in the club.

Larry as General Evaluator provided feedback on the full meeting and provided his unique insights into the meeting and the roles with his usual good humour.

There was a lot of enthusiasm and “good cheer” in the meeting with a continuing sense of fun.   Another great Morningstars meeting.

What a great way to start the day.

Dec 10 we are having a special open house… with treats! All are welcome.

Firsts and Lasts

Written by Kay, Morningstars Secretary

With Alicia cool and competent, taking on her first stint as Toastmaster, the meeting entitled “Making Love Last flowed smoothly and on time.

David used the example of Table Topics to develop his Inspirational Toast. He credited his ability to think on his feet to skills he has learned in Toast Masters.  During a recent job interview he knew just how to handle the panel’s questions and was successful in landing the position.  I didn’t get a chance to personally congratulate him, so from all of us a HIGH FIVE. Well done, David, you are an example to be followed!

Our Grammarian, Sheila, chose the word “treasure” as word of the day, which generated many words and pictures. As a result, Johanna improvised with a Treasure Box which she challenged the participants to fill with their stories about making love last (or first!) during Table Topics.  All three participants handled the subject in heartwarming ways, disclosing their care and humanity, as well as the humor and reality of life.

This was repeated in Larry’s humorous homilies which anyone over 50 would be aware of. They brought back my era for sure and I loved hearing them.

The speeches today were both interesting and informative.  Kate told us more about her work in Uganda, and how cooperation between groups of health workers, radio stations and Harvest Plus farmers have educated people in the different parishes to become informed on more healthy eating practices. Teaching farmers to plant altered seed crops of corn, maize, bananas and orange sweet potato can provide necessary vitamins to prevent wasting diarrhea as well as blindness, scurvy etc. especially in children.  I found it very hopeful to hear of these efforts rather than the unsuccessful food drops – usually too little too late.

Sandy spoke on a topic that she has researched thoroughly,  “We are our Thoughts”.  Today she used the emotion Anger, showing with excellent visuals just what soul destroying forms this emotion can take and how necessary it is to deal with the root cause before it deals with us.

She summed up her talk with an infomercial for a workshop that will be happening in Vancouver tomorrow.  Very clever move, Sandy.

Judy as Quizmaster tested us well on today’s topics but I think we were on our toes and passed most of them.

Brave Jolanda took on the Timer’s job and was very successful with her flashing lights.  It is recognized as a difficult position and one that needs repeat practice.

Katherine as General Evaluator had learning comments for participants to mull, and picked up on points that could make the meetings move more smoothly.

The highlight of the meeting was the induction of Judy and Loretta as new members.  Welcome aboard gals.

Of course our ever-patient and loyal Sergeant-at-Arms did his magic to make the room welcoming with setup and coffee.

All in all it was an excellent meeting – stimulating and satisfying.