Sunday, March 11, 2012

There are prudes & hippocrites everywhere!

Last October during a Toastmasters humorous speech contest I decided to do a speech on the subject of issues of old age. Medical science has done extensive research on many aspects on the normal functions of the human body during the aging process. A few weeks ago while at the Doctors office with my wife GG. We talked to her doctor (who was female) about different aging issues. One of those issues happened to have been on the subject of passing gas. Her response was that it was normal for every human being to pass gas an average of 10 times a day. In fact she went on to say that if that did not happen several health problems could result. I then asked her if that action increased with age and she said yes. I researched the subject extensively and found that to be true. So in preparing for my participation in the humorous speech contest I pondered the question of whether to talk about this subject or not. And what would the appropriate language to use that would not ruffle someones feathers.

After a lot of diliberation and discussion with others that I had a lot of respect for I decided that would take the challenge of presenting this issue on. Knowing that using some 4 letter words ie (fart) might be offensive to some people I decided to go with the word TOOT. It drew the picture of what I ment but was not in my mind offensive. In fact it was funny (based on audience reaction & my discussion with others). But as luck world have it, assigned to be a judge in that contest was an individual whose lack of flexability cost me the chance to win the speech contest. With all of the "obscence material in movies, in books, on TV and even in some TM speeches I thought I was on pretty solid ground. but this person found the use of the word "TOOT" offensive. They even went so far as to try to make a big deal of it during a judges training session a few months later. I found their reaction immature and childish to say the least. Have we gone to far with "political correctness and other moral issues that that we cannot discern acceptable from unacceptable. Some individuals cannot keep an open mind? Maybe they should excuse themselves from taking any position (like judging) that has an influence in other people lives. We cannot and should not force our opinions on others. These same people snicker at blue humor and gossip about others but cannot see the humor in something natural. I was presenting real issues that every person over the age of 50 has to deal with. And if we cannot make fun of ourselves we have no right to have opinions of,or make comments about others.

During the past 16 plus years as a Toastmaster, during speeches I have heard the words, "poop, fart, pee, butt & boobs" used in addition to insinuations to the use of certain hand/finger gestures towards other people during driving incidences and guess what, the audience laughed. Since when did the word "TOOT" become the number one word on the America's Most Wanted list???

Freedom of speech is one of the reasons that our forefathers went to war. Yes I agree that there are issues that we should address for the over all moral good of our children and the nation but, let's be reasonable and open minded. Both Mother Nature and God have a sense of humor, thats why the Goony bird and politicans were created.

Use this link and pull up "The Geezer Effect" Oct 14, 2011

Friday, March 9, 2012

Judging or Evaluation are they different?

I have heard this argument from many people so I thought I would throw in my dollars worth. Websters 2001 give us these definitions. Evaluate: To judge, or determine the significance, worth, quality of: To assess, estimate or appraise. Judge: To form an opinion or estimate, determine, value, regard or consider. Sound similar don't they! Most people think that when they judge they are being very logical which says that they are using the left brain functions. Left brain functions relate to numbers, words, lists, sequences, analysis, and logic. Example how an engineer might view, value, analyze or make a decision on something. Right brain functions consist of rhythm (which is why some very specific techniques work in speaking), Wholeness (patterns, and completions), Colour, Dimension, daydreaming and imagination. Example how a painter might view, value or analyze make a decision on something. A lot people think that these functions are totally exclusive of each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. What does the right brain, left brain have to do with evaluation versus judging "EVERYTHING". We are human and being human when we evaluate or judge our likes, dislikes, life experiences, memories, all that makes us human influences our decisions and values. Our values determine the things we see, what we hear, how we perceive what we see and hear and the decisions we make based on those values. Our reticular activation system will focus in on what is important to us at the time we are listening to a speech. All these factors influence how we judge and or evaluate and cannot be separated. The skill of evaluating a speech is a learned pattern of how to analyze speeches (sound familiar). We learn these patterns by watching how other people judge/evaluate. Although there is no totally right or wrong way to judge/evaluate. There are more effective ways. In a toastmasters club we learn to focus in on the good things the speaker says or does. In most evaluations you hear :you did this good, you did that good, ect, ect". "You were so good, I really cannot give you any suggestions for improvement". I can't wait to hear your next speech. Of course the evaluator may be thinking "I and wait for you to bore me again". Phooey! How can a speaker grow if we don't give qualified and effective feedback. Did you join Toastmasters so that you could give great speeches at your Toastmasters Club. I DON'T THINK SO. Or the evaluator will regurgitate the speech back to the speaker. Who ever came up with this useless technique. 1. At the end of the speech can you even remember the speakers opening statement (it should engage the audience). If you can't remember it it was not effective. I will write further about openings at a later date. 2. Can you remember the closing. Did the speaker tie all their points together. 3. What was your (the evaluator/judge) take away value from the speech? Can you clearly explain the value "YOU" took away from the speech to someone else? 4. Did the speaker have any annoying mannerisms. 5. Were the conversations between the speakers characters distinctive? Or did the speaker use the "he said, she said" approach. If so the speaker was giving a monologue and not drawing YOU into the story by making it present day situation. Total accuracy in not important. The purpose of the story is to reinforce the point the speaker is making. 6. Eye Contact. Now here is something that most evaluators/judges do not clearly understand. Swiveling the head from side to side is not eye contact. All it is, is scanning the audience there is no way to make a connections by scanning the audience (more on this later). 7. Did the speaker set the stage so that "you" relived the story by using common words or situations to draw you in emotionally? Emotion is how we make the majority of our decisions. We try to be logical in our analysis but its how we feel in our gut that influences the final outcome. 8. Did the speaker give you a reason to even care about the speech they gave? As I said in the beginning there are different opinions. And there are many factors that influence the answer. It is my goal to give you something to ponder when you are asked to evaluate/judge in the future.

Many Judges/Evauators base their decisions about how a good or effective a speech is based solely upon the entertainment factor. I have seen people win speech contests solely on the entertainment factor alone with no reguard to technical merit, skill, or standard judging criteria. When these speakers go on to the next level and do not do well we cannot figure out why?????

Speaking is a changing field, so must our judging/evaluation skills must change if we are to prepare the speakers in our clubs to be able to be effective speakers when speaking outside our Toastmaster Clubs.

Speakers can only grow if we give them some real time (based on current speaking techniques) suggestions for improvement. Many experienced toastmasters are stuck in a time warp. When we are judging speeches we are evaluating them at the same time. Our decisions are based on our personal biases, experiences and current skill levels. The World Championship of Public Speaking (both semi finals and final will take place in mid August. I will be there and will post my observations on some of the speeches. It should be fun.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I have my topic, what's next?

You have been asked to speak for 10 minutes. You have your topic. What do you do next? Write out your speech. YES, that's what I said. Write out your speech. WHY you might ask? Here are some things to consider. How many words can you effectively deliver in a 10 minute time period? Well first off do you know how many words you speak per minute? To find out you need a stop watch, and a book of average difficulty for you to read. Note your starting point then start your stop watch and begin to read "ALOUD". Read for 1 minute, stop and count the number of words you read. Do this no less than 3 or 4 times each time reading a different passage. Count the number of words you spoke/read each time. Here is an example. (125, 123, 122, 127) The add those numbers together and divide by the number of times you did the exercise. (125+123+122+127=497 497/4=124.25 or 124 words per minute average. So now we take 124 words times the 10 minutes alloted time right! 124 x 10=1240 words for 10 minutes. "NOT QUITE". Even in a eulogy you can have humor. If I am scheduled to talk for 7 minutes I am going to plan at least 2 or 3 humorous stories about that person. After all they were human. I am speaking at a eulogy on June 16th. Lets say I have been given 7 minutes speaking time. I speak at 125 words per minute. There are 50 people in the audience. Maybe I am planning on 3 pauses to emphasis some major points about that person. Here is how the calculation might look. 125 words per minute. 7 minutes alloted time. 875 I can have 875 total words in my talk right? "NO". What about the laughter I planned to use is there an impact? Laughter increases depending on audience size 20 - 30 people = 3 to 5 seconds in laughter 40 - 100 people 6 to 8 seconds in laughter 100 + people = 8 to 12 seconds in laughter So with 50 people in my audience I plan 3 humorous snipets. (8 x 3 = 24 seconds) I now have 6 minutes and 36 seconds available for spoken words. What about the pauses I have planned is there an impact? I have planned 3 pauses at 3 seconds each so 3x3=9 seconds. So I now have 6 minutes and 36 seconds minus 9 seconds will equal 6 minutes and 27 seconds available to speak. So if I round it out to 6:30 seconds of speaking time, I really have 125 x 6.5 = 812 words available to me to present in that 6 and a half minutes. But the most respectful thing to do for your audience would be to plan on 800 words. That would be a 75 word difference from the orginal plan. Finishing in less than the alloted time is the goal. Why is that important? It's about being respectful of the audiences time. It's about being respectful of the other speakers. It's about being respectful of the organizers of the event. And if you want the people you are speaking to, or representing to repect you, you need to respect them by planing ahead. And if you don't know how to keep within time. And believe me they will know if you are over time or not. You will not be successful in your persentation. Have you ever heard a speaker say "I know I'm over time but" What they are really saying is "I'm" more important than you and your time. Without your permission they have no right to "steal" your time. BEWARE, YOUR REPUTATION MAY DEPEND ON IT. I'm Bob Freel and that,s "What I've Learned".

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Call Backs - What and How

On December 1st I was scheduled to give a 5 minute presentation along with 18 other speakers. I had prepared my talk to include a humorous old joke that I had planned to tie into my opening. As I was listening to the 10 speakers before me I noticed that 3 of them made references to their C & D grades in school(to great laughter). At least 2 of them talked about overcoming their earlier poor performances to achieve their college degrees. As I listened it dawned on me what a wonderful opportunity they had laid at my feet. I scrapped my opening and while standing in the wings waiting to be announced I came up with the following. " Howdy --- While sitting in my seat listening to Kent, Tom and Randy give their presentations I notice them bragging about how bad their grades were in school and how hard they worked to overcome them. When I got out of the Army my college grade point average was 1.69 (laughter). I then made comments about the fact that once you earn 120 units you a qualified for a Bachelors of Science Degree. I graduated with 180 units (laughter). In fact I not only have a BS Degree I also have 2 Masters Degrees hanging on my will at home. And I did it the easy way, I married a woman who had 2 of them (lots of laughter). The Definition of a Call back is: To paraphrase - (Stand up Comedy the Bood - by Judy Carter A call back can be a reference to any subject, emotion or phrase that previously got a laugh. The orginal joke must stand on it own. (Step by Step to Standup comedy - by Greg Dean A joke that refers back to another joke performed earlier in the day, often presented in a different context. (Comedy Writing Secrets - by Mel Helitzer) A call back is a reference to something said earlier in a routine or sketch. For a callback to work the time between the original and the callback to that event/joke/comment must be brief. A call back should never be repeated more than 3 times in a presentation. The purpose is to help the audience feel part of a shared experience. For speakers it could mean a reference back to an action/joke/comment or experience that the audience has shared with the speaker and presented in a humorous manner.

Toastmasters In Prison

Leadership skills taught to prison inmates By Laurie Rathbun 2/9/2007 2:40:58 PMBob Freel of Menifee does volunteer work that few others are willing to do. One evening a week, he goes to the California Institute for Women near Corona and teaches leadership and communication skills to inmates who belong to a Toastmasters club in the prison. Freel, 64, is a Distinguished Toastmaster and started volunteering in 2003 when he became an area governor of six clubs in the Inland Empire. “It was a culture shock,” he said remembering his first visit to the prison. “I was one of those people who thought lock them up and throw away the key.” He views the inmates now as human beings that have made mistakes. “I think a lot of them have paid their debt and deserve a second chance,” he said. In fact, he has written to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to help parole some of the inmates. Darrell Zeller, a former Toastmasters’ district governor in the Inland Empire, founded the club in 2002. Freel helps Zeller and another Toastmaster Randy Amelino run it. Freel said he’s known as the “Professor” because he teaches the inmates how to speak and build their confidence. The club meets on Thursday nights in two sessions and has more than 40 members. It costs the inmates about $65 to become members and most are determined to stay in it and complete the Toastmasters’ Competent Communication manual. Freel said that 80 to 90 percent of them complete the manual and advance to another level. This past year, a club member became a Distinguished Toastmaster, which is the highest recognition attainable. She was the first incarcerated prisoner to do so. “We were all very proud of her,” Freel said. Most of the club’s inmates are serving life sentences. “I have worked with some women who have been very prominent in the newspapers in the last 40 years,” Freel said. He can’t disclose their names due to confidentially rules. Freel has never felt that he was in physical danger from the inmates. He had to go through non-custodial training to volunteer and follows the same rules and regulations as the prison guards. He commented that it’s hard to get other Toastmasters to volunteer with the prisoners because they’re afraid, which he understands. “It’s a different environment,” he said. “You get tested. You have to earn their respect.” Freel became involved with Toastmasters about 11 years ago when he took a Dale Carnegie management and leadership training course through his job. “I went through the course and part of every meeting you got up and gave a short talk for one to two minutes,” he said. He did well and wanted to improve his speaking skills so his instructor recommended that he join Toastmasters. He joined it in 1995 in Corona where he was living at the time. Freel moved to Menifee in 2005 with his wife Gloria, 56. She’s the associate director of the Ontario City Library. He’s semi-retired and works one day a week for the United States Postal Service as a rural route carrier in Canyon Lake. Before that he was an operations support manager for 30 years at commercial and aerospace companies. Freel is a member of five Toastmasters clubs. He attends 10 to 12 meetings a month in Escondido, Temecula, Riverside and Woodbridge. There are 10,500 clubs worldwide with 211,000 members. For more information about Toastmasters International, visit its Web site at Comments or Questions about this piece? Photo: Laurie Rathbun photoMenifee resident Bob Freel is a Distinguished Toastmaster and teaches leadership and communication skills to inmates at the California Institute for Women near Corona. All contents copyright The Valley News Inc.Arts · The Valley News Inc. 27464 Commerce Center Drive, Temecula, CA 92590