Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Toastmasters District Semi-Finals

On August 12, 2010 I watched 27 Speeches in the New Toastmasters Semi-Finals. These Semi's were created to Replace the former Regional Finals that were held in past years. After re-reading the notes I took during these semi-finals I have come to the following conclusions. 1. That the new Semi-Final process is not as effective as the former Regional Structure. 2. What the former Regional process did was weed out those speakers that won their District contests based on 1 speech. 3. In addition the former Regional process weeded out those speakers that won their District not based on skills but more on popularity. In this years semi-finals I walked away feeling that the majority of the speeches I listened to were of the advanced club level only. 4. I think that more speakers competing at the semi-final level will need to avail themselves of coaching in order to compete at the semi finals. 5. Of the 27 speeches I watched only 4 were of the championship level needed to compete at the International Judging level. 6. Each year many competitiors and audience members walk away from a contest not understanding what happened? Why did the judges choose one contestant over another. Many highly skilled and excellent speakers fall by the wayside due to poorly skilled or biased judging. Will it ever be fair? Probibly not. I will say this. This years winner deserved to win. He was far above those who competed against him.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Toastmasters 2010 World Championship of Public Speaking.

CONNECTION,CONNECTION,CONNECTION EMOTION, EMOTION, EMOTION These are the words I would use to describle the winning speech "The Aviators" delivered by David Henderson of San Antonio Texas at Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking on August 14th 2010. But,I can see it now, next year there will be a paliphera of people using props to attempt make a connection with the audience. Please don't mis the point. Davids speech started off with him walking out to center stage wearing a leather flight jacket, leather helmet and goggles. Standing center stage he pulled the goggles down over his eyes and started flying around the stage making airplane sounds and machine gunning the audience. He then talked about how he as his brother Snoopy 2, never lost a battle with the Red Baron. He then talked about wearing his costume to a Holloween party at school thinking he was going to win the costume contest. He lost to a 7 year old girl also dressed as Snoopy. He went on to talk about becoming friends. She became ill with Cycle Cell and passed away when she was 14 years old. The premise of his speech was about why we should love people even if we know they are going to die. He drew his audience into the story. Made them feel the pain and left them with a gift of knowledge. By the time he walked off the stage every person in the audience knew he had won the contest, and it was only half over. The following day several people I talked to had different opinions about the costume, his tears and other aspects of his presentation. But the bottom line was that his costume was germaine to his presentation. His tears came from true emotion, and there was heartfelt sincerity in his voice. The prop (his costume) was an interagal part of his speech and it was only used during those parts where it was appropriate. It was the connection, not the prop that made the speech a winner. As Patricia Fripp says his speech was structurally organized, artifully crafted and masterfully delivered.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

If they don't remember your opening you did "not" connect.

Several times over the last 5 years while evaluating an advanced speaker during a toastmasters club meeting I have asked the audience "What was the speakers opening"? and have gotten no response. I then would give them a memory jogger to see if they remembered, what the opening was, still nothing. The truth is the speakers opening was not memorable. It did not connect with the audience. So what makes a memorable opening? Is it Mr Chairman, fellow members, and friends (oh what a boring start (no connection, no excitement, blah, who cares)). What was the "Take Away Value" in that opening? NOT MUCH. I boils down to who is your audience? Are they engineers, doctors, lawyers,brick layers or a mixture? Some times you cannot tell. But normally your audience is made up of 3 types of people. Auditory People - These are the type of people who learn by what they hear when they bring up memories it the sounds they remember first. They make up (25%) of your audience. The words that you might use in your opening and closing for these type of people are: Hush, Ring, Utter, Tell, Shout, Scream, Clear - just to name a few. These are the people who need you to TELL them what to do. A sentence in your opening for these types of people might be. Ladies and gentlemen give me your ear, the secret I'm about to tell you will change your life. Visual People - These are the type of people who learn, believe, and process information that they can see. These people remember things in pictures. They make up (35%) of your audience. These are the show me people. Some of the words you would use in your opening and closing statements for these type of people are: Imagine, Visualize, Illustrate, Focus, Watch, Look, Picture. A line in your opening for these types of people might be: Imagine you are sitting at your desk when suddenly ___________. These are the types of people like slides. Kin aesthetic People - These are the people whom when they learn or bring up memories they remember how they felt. These are the note takers. These people make up (40%) of your audience. These people relate learning and remembering based on feelings, taste, touch, smell. Words you might use in your opening are: Smell, Stir, Touch, Carry, Feel, Taste, Hot, Freezing. Your possible opening sentence might be: Get a load of this or Remember how it felt when_______________. Close your eyes, you're in the kitchen of your favorite cook, you take a deep breath. You smell your favorite dish baking in the oven? The aroma floats tantalizingly under your nose. Your mouth begins to water! Words you might use are: Smell, Stir, Touch, Carry, Feel, Taste, Hot. When we speak to each other the percentage of how we communicate is: 7% Words 38% Tonality 55% Body Language That's 93% of our communications have nothing to do with the words we say. It has more to do which the tone in which we said. And our body posture, gestures, eye contact. What I am saying is that our priority when writing/preparing a speech to impact the majority of our audience would be: (K) Kin aesthetic first, (A) Auditory second, (V) Visual third. Rodger Jones an authority on Leadership has this example; This is an example of how you might use the K,A,V criteria when preparing your speech. This is an important day! I walked (K) into your office this morning with a feeling (K) of anticipation, and as I sit in front of you now I am excited (K) about the opportunities that exist for us to grasp (K) together. I am hearing (A) from all quarters, the needs your people are stating (A) - we know they need to hear (A) answers. Together we can paint a picture (V) for them of the future - develop a vision (V), so that they will be able to see a clear (V) way forward in the new organization. I realize that during an average conversation most of us would not talk like the paragraph above, but it demonstrates my points. When you use this process when preparing you openings and closings you have a stronger chance of connecting with your audience. After all it's the openings and closings our audience should remember. If they don't we did not connect and there is no "Take Away Value"? If there is no take away value why should they listen to you at all?????? I am reading a great book on body language called: The Power of Body Language How to succeed in every business and social encounter Written by: Tonya Reiman Published by: Pocket Books (I bought it at Barnes & Noble) Remember it's not just what you say, it's how you say it, and the body language you use when you say it. In the coming weeks I will talk about the words in openings. I'm Bob Freel and that's "What I've Learned".

Friday, July 16, 2010

Advanced Evaluations Part 1

I LOVE TOASTMASTERS (TM). With that said there are quite a few area's where I think TM could strenghten their educational program. One of those areas would be in the evaluation of advanced speakers. To paraphrase Patricia Fripp: Who said the following during the Edge Summit in March 2010. The true measure of a Toastmasters club is in the quality of the feedback it gives. Craig Valentine 1999 WCPS said: Most People want Validation, not Education. Here are some observations if have noticed during my 15 years as a Toastmaster. Speeches in most TM clubs range from 5 to 15 minutes. But no matter how long the speech may be the time limit for evaluations of those speeches remains 1-2 minutes. Wouldn't it make more sense to make adjustments in the evaluation time as well. The majority of our evaluators learned their skills mostly by observation of other evaluators. One of the problems with this method is in the inconsistancy of advice given. Other than saying use the Sandwich Method (give a positive statement of what the speaker did will, then an improvement suggestion, another positive you did good statement) there is no other standard or training available. This inconsistancy leads to confusion and bad habits for the speaker and or the evaluator that has to be unlearned at some future date. Over 95% of evaluations delivered in todays Toasmasters club are about validation of what the speaker has done well with very little value in the how to improve the speech.(Example) Your vocal variety & gestures were great. I really like them. I can't think of any thing you can do to improve at this time! Humm!! Were we looking at the same speech? But hold everything, we have not trained them on what to look for. How can an evaluator, give suggestions on something they know nothing about. Yes new speakers and evaluators will not have those skills needed to make useful and qualified suggestions. But once you start to progress to advanced speaking we need to have the skills to know what to look for. I dare not count how many times I have heard "You didn't open your speech with ""Mr/Ms Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Guests"". YIKES!! Did I just hear what that evaluator just said?? Once you step out of Toastmasters you never hear Obama, MLK, or JFK start off a speech with the above mentioned statement. They usually enguage their audience first then use some type of recognition statement once the audience is enguated. In fact in the book "Say it like Obama" the author tells a story where Michelle Obama told her husband to stop speaking from his head and start speaking more from his heart". I firmly believe that after completing the CC (Competent Communicator Manual). We should be working on specific advanced skills for both speakers and evaluators. Everyone is willing to give their opinion about what a speaker should do but not everyone is qualified to. Speakers should take all advice and sincerely anaylze it before implementing changes. An advantage in the Toastmasters world of having evaluators with advanced skills would be in consistency that speaker would recieve when they were evaluated. Not only would evaluations themselves improve. But the quality of judging Toastmaster speech contests would be more consistant also. With consistency will come fairness and maybe even a more highly competitive speech contest. For if we truly are going to have 9 people compete in the TM finals shouldn't they be the best we have in that given year. Better evaluations = better speakers, better evalation skills = more consistant judging skills. Samuel Johnson said: Advice is seldon welcome. Those to need it the most like it the least.