Breaking The Ice – Michael McLernan

IMG_6857

It was not like the Inquisition. You don’t expect the Inquisition!

I had scheduled my Ice Breaker speech for the 19th June, giving me plenty time to steam towards it like the Titanic, and hope to be more successful than she in actually breaking the ice that lay before me.  I should have known better than to make the comparison even mentally, for out of the blue one weekend came an opening for that very Thursday. Too late to turn. I had to take it head on.

Actually, doggerel aside (which I strongly advise you not to use in your speeches!) it was terrific! I had been going to the club, Waverley Communicators, since January, had been voted in in March, and you could not find a friendlier group of people anywhere, nor a mentor better than mine.

The Icebreaker speech is the first of the ten speeches in the ‘Competent Communicator’ manual of developing yourself as a public speaker. The purpose of the Icebreaker is to showcase, to yourself and to everyone else, your existing public speaking skills. Most of all, it’s to introduce yourself properly to your fellow Toastmasters.

But after you’ve been to the club for even a few sessions, there isn’t much ice left to be broken – it’s all been melted already by the sheer warmth of the atmosphere. (To say nothing of the room temperature, the radiators taking the name ‘Toastmasters’ a little too literally!).[That’s been fixed! The Ed.]

On the night, I went to the front of the room, clutching my notes like a comfort blanket, and was greeted with a warm handshake, a wink and a mouthed ‘Good luck’ from club stalwart Eileen Scott, and turned to face an array of smiling faces.
For the first speech, you are allotted four – six minutes. In twenty, as Philip Marlowe said, ‘you can sink a battleship, down three or four planes, hold a double execution. You can die, get married, get fired, and find a new job, have a tooth pulled, have your tonsils out.’ Approximately five minutes to say all you need to say should be a doddle. I took six and a half. What can I say – I find myself interesting subject! The challenge is to make your audience interested as well.

But the secret of the incredible success of Toastmasters in turning out confident and eloquent public speakers is not just the course itself, excellent as that is. It is the close knit community spirit, and the desire of everyone there to help improve everyone else. After each speech, your evaluator and your mentor give you both praise and advice, so you know what you’ve done well, and what you need to improve. You can relax among your fellow Toastmasters, and because of that the words flow, and the confidence builds.
After just four months there I have found myself at home as I have in few other places, and would eagerly recommend it to anyone.

Are you still here? What are you waiting for? Come down to 28 York Place on Thursday 1st May and see for yourself.

Post written by Michael McLernan

Member of Waverley Communicators

 

New Members Deliver Their IceBreakers

Edward Kutas receives his IceBreaker ribbon from Club President Kevin Miller

Edward Kutas receives his IceBreaker ribbon from Club President Kevin Miller

IMG_6857

Michael McLernan receives his Icebreaker ribbon from Club President Kevin Miller

As Martin Luther King Jnr said:

‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’

Edward Kutas and Michael McLernan took that first step on Thursday evening at the club meeting when they delivered their Icebreaker speeches.

Their next step on the staircase leading to the Competent Communicator (CC) award is CC2 which is one of the most important speeches in the CC manual.  Every speech you will ever give needs a structure, and in CC2 members learn how to organise their content and build their speech on a strong foundation.

See the post on Ted Corcoran’s workshop and the insights he shared with us.

Congratulations to Edward and Michael for taking the first step.

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM

Vice President Public Relations

 

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth103425.html#woUgLI22OAggDvk8.99

Ted’s Talk

Ted Corcoran DTM

Ted Corcoran DTM

Last Saturday, before the Division S International Speech and Evaluation contest, we were treated to a workshop on how to write a  speech in 10 minutes. Yes, really – 10 minutes. It was informative, interactive, inspiring and lots of fun.

The workshop presenter, Ted Corcoran DTM is a veteran of the Irish Toastmaster clubs, and a former International President – to put it in perspective, you can’t go any higher than that in Toastmasters!  He was warm, down-to-earth and funny, and by the end of the workshop everyone had relaxed – even the contestants – and in good spirits.

Ted started off by quoting Lance Miller, former World Champion of Public Speaking

It’s not what you say, it’s what [the audience] hears and understands.

Then he went on to deliver some good insights into speech-making in Toastmasters, invaluable for members, especially new members, to keep in mind when they deliver speeches.

For example:

If [members] haven’t mastered CC2 (organisation and structure) and CC3 (purpose of the speech), they have nothing, it’s just talk. Your audience may hear your words but they won’t understand.

Think simple. Many members delay speeches because they can’t think of ideas for speech topics. They think the subject has to be important. But it’s not the important subject that matters, it’s the process.

And the process is in the CC manual. For a simple, successful speech that your audience will not only hear but also understand, you need to have:

A SUBJECT and a PURPOSE and

1.Open with something that gets the audience’s attention

2. Tell the audience what you’re going to tell them

3. Make 3 points to support your subject

4. Summarise by telling them what you have told them

5. Close by referring back to the opening.

This structure is simple and quick, especially handy for those times when you are asked to ‘say a few words’, fill in at a meeting for the speaker who didn’t turn up, or you’re unexpectedly asked to make a toast or present an award. If you have only 10 minutes to prepare, this simple technique may save you a lot of embarrassment and earn you respect as someone who can think on their feet.

Try it next time you’re put on the spot, see if it works for you.

Post written by Moira M Beaton DTM

Vice President Public Relations

 

 

First Time: Speaking Outside The Club

2-28-2014_005Having volunteered to give the Test Speech for Haymarket Toastmasters’ evaluation contest on 3rd  March, it came as something of a surprise to find myself being asked to give my speech at Capital Communicators (CapCom) on 25 February!

It turned out that through some complex trade-off (OK it wasn’t that complex – Haymarket had found a speaker, whilst CapCom had not) my services had been bartered like “a poor man’s Juan Mata” – moved from club to club in search of a first team game.

After shouting down my first thought on being asked to move my speech forward almost one week – my default position of “I’m going to say no. I’m can’t get prepared in time” – I was left with a double challenge. Firstly I was going to be speaking to an audience of relative strangers and secondly it was CapCom!

The first issue is an interesting one.

I’m sure to a greater or lesser degree we all join Toastmasters to get over a fear of public speaking.  Then, as our Toastmasters journey progresses, we are presented with a bit of a paradox.

We begin to get more comfortable at public speaking, but the particular “public” we address at our regular meetings also becomes less daunting. This is particularly true in a club as welcoming as Waverley, where we can soon find ourselves addressing a group of friends.

Of course, it’s great to be in an environment where we can try things out and not be petrified of failure. But if there is a downside then it is that it might not prepare us as well for the “being thrown in at the deep end” scenario that is certainly my biggest fear.

The second challenge?

Well you see, CapCom and I have some history.

Around 8 years ago, when I was really struggling to come to terms with public speaking anxiety, a well meaning friend directed me to a CapCom meeting.

I wasn’t in a particularly good place at the time.  And it’s probably fair to say that I left their meeting place, the Theosophical Society in Great King Street, that evening convinced that the prospect of me ever being able to deliver the sort of speech I had witnessed as a guest that night was about as likely as me being asked to take the place of Robbie Williams in the recently reformed Take That (it was 2006 remember!).

Anyway, the point is that I was being asked to return to the site of one of my lowest moments in the very long chronicle that has been my phobia of public speaking.

Of course, a lot had changed since these dark days: not least, over 3 years, I had experienced the best Waverley Communicators encouragement, helpful evaluation and occasional cajolement.

Much to my surprise, although still nervous at the thought of addressing an audience of relative strangers, I found myself excited too.

I was repeating a speech I had delivered at Waverley a few weeks before and that I felt could have gone better on the night (don’t you always?).

It was a speech I had taken a while to put together and the chance to dust it off and re-cycle it with, hopefully, a bit more polish was a great opportunity.

On the night, the members at CapCom was very welcoming and did their best to put me at ease.

My speech went reasonably well. It was still far from perfect, but then I did hear Chris Evans of all people philosophise only this morning that “perfect is the enemy of good” – and I get his point.

In my opinion, the opportunity to speak to a different audience is a very important step in the Toastmasters journey and one that should be grasped when it presents itself.

Guest post written by David Dick

Member of Waverley Communicators, Edinburgh

First Time: Evaluation

evaluation 01_Evaluations_LR

Guest post written by Alex Nuth, Member Waverley Communicators

First Evaluation

After being a member of Waverley Communicators for over a year, I have given my first speech evaluation.

I probably waited much longer than many members, but the more speeches I gave at the club, the more I appreciated the value of the evaluation and feedback that I received.

In the last few months I was pleased to realise that many of the points I was writing on my evaluation slips for other members’ speeches, were also mentioned in verbal evaluations by more experienced club members. That gave me the confidence to do my first evaluation.

My first evaluation on 23rd January was for Gopal Lama who was delivering speech 3 from the Competent Communicator (CC) manual. His speech was called Volunteering in Nepal.

Preparation

I re-read the speech project in the manual to make sure I knew the objectives and I read the Toastmasters Effective Evaluations booklet .

I also thought about Gopal’s previous speeches, and what I had enjoyed about them and previously recommended.  I emailed him to ask if he had anything he would especially like me to concentrate on, and I made contact with my mentor to run some thoughts past her.

I felt quite confident and prepared when I arrived at 6.45pm. I divided my sheet of paper into two columns, one for commendations and one for recommendations and sat back to enjoy the  meeting.

Listening

Then, when Gopal began his speech I realised how hard it is to look, listen and write all at the same time!

Delivering

The time seemed to pass in a flash and  it was time for me to take to the floor; give a 3 minute mini-speech without rehearsal; and remember the Toastmasters ‘sandwich’ of commend, recommend and commend at the same time trying to read my own handwritten notes.

Takeaway

I hope I did OK in conveying my personal opinions on how Gopal’s speech met the objectives.

I hope the audience followed my thinking and that I didn’t speak down into my notes too much.

But most importantly, I hope that Gopal took something positive from my evaluation to carry forward to his next speech.