Rough Around the Edges

Written by PJ, Morningstar’s Past President

The Toastmaster role is so challenging that it’s rare to see someone take it to a new level, as Sheila did this morning. Sheila decided to reinvent the Chair’s opening gambit.

Walking to the lectern, she launched into a story without so much as a Hello, without a single word of fanfare. The story was so witty and sexy and honest that I momentarily forgot where I was and what we were supposed to be doing there at Harmony Hall.

Turns out the story was an excerpt from Sheila’s personal memoir. (I’ll buy a dozen!) She depicted a younger version of herself, a person with a self-image that was “rough around the edges.” Which—Ta-da!—was the meeting’s theme.

If Sheila’s smooth experiment was an antidote to the “rough” theme, she succeeded tremendously. And what better place to deploy Speechcraft expertise than at the start? Beginnings are potent. We remember them. They set the pace.

I should know a bit about beginnings, since my most recent speech concerns “getting to the point.” Having rewritten the talk for four different occasions, I’ve discovered that getting to the point is a many-faceted thing.

“The point” is not only the core message of a presentation, but it should give the audience a damn good reason to invest valuable time in listening further. A classy start such as Sheila’s was this morning gave us the feeling that we were in the hands of a pro. Which encourages us all to relax. Which helps us all perform our own roles at our smoothest best. (Grammar police!)

And talk about smooth!

William ever so smoothly interpreted another author’s formula for success in life.

Katherine’s smooth report of her High Performance Leadership project (an executive manual) belied a lot of rough, tough work over the past nine months. Thanks, Kat!

And I give Kay special recognition for saying in her “Inspiration” that the iceberg that sunk the Titanic was obviously “rough around the edges.”

Okay, I need one more bit of clever word-play to close this piece—here goes:

Reflecting on Sheila as Chair this morning, I see a relatively new Morningstar who has come a long way in a short time. A little rough around the edges only a few months ago, Sheila has polished her skills to a degree that astonishes all of us. Of Sheila we can say without a doubt that here is one Toastmaster who is no longer a diamond in the rough.


See you next week.




A shout out to two members of Morningstars club for their articles published in the District 21 (all of BC) newsletter The Link.

First up is In Your Hands, Under Your Feet by Frank Caldicott. I was there the day he delivered this speech, and anyone would agree he is a speaker with a lot to say. His article reminds us of the power of being a Toastmaster and that we never know what effect the words we speak will have.

The second article was written by PJ Reece, president of Morningstars and soon-to-be editor of The Link. We had the pleasure of reading the article first right here on this blog. Coming Out of Hiding is definitely worth a second read.

And astute readers will note that personal power is a theme in both articles.

Congratulations to PJ and Frank.

The Art of the Introduction

Introductions are an integral part of the learning at Toastmasters.

We use introductions in several different areas in our meetings.

  • We welcome and introduce new members and guests.
  • All roles are introduced by the Toastmaster of the day.
  • Every speech given at club meetings and contests must have an introduction.

In this short post, the focus will be speech introductions.

There is an art to writing the introduction to your speech. The ideas below were generated at a meeting of our sister club, Sunshine Toastmasters. Consider the following when you are writing your next introduction.

What is the purpose of the speech introduction?

  • To give the title of the speech and name of the speaker
  • To tell club members and audience which speech project the speaker is presenting
  • To give background information on the speaker that the speaker may not include in the speech
  • To intrigue the audience and whet their appetite for what’s coming
  • To set up the speech so the speaker can launch right into the speech
  • To outline why audiences would be interested in the content of the speech
  • To set the tone for the speech so that it matches the content – humorous, informative, dramatic, etc.

When you write your next speech introduction, consider these points and you will likely find that the introduction will practically write itself.

Extra Tip: Most people write the speech before the introduction. Why not try writing your speech introduction first?


Three Reasons to Create a Speech Outline

Here are three great reasons (there are probably more) to start your speech by creating an outline.

  1. An outline with all the major sections included means you don’t have to memorize each individual word in your speech. Memory lapses happen even when a speech has been practiced a lot. Having an outline allows you to get back on track easily.
  2. An outline makes it easier to decide how you can use the premise of your speech in every section. Your premise becomes the glue that holds your speech together.
  3. An outline makes it easier to practise individual sections separately. This is a great idea when you are trying to figure out whether your speech is within the time alloted. Most speeches are 5 to 7 minutes and a rushed ending means your speech is less effective.

Hear more from an expert…..