I finally managed to complete the Humorously Speaking manual at my Toastmasters club, Grosvenor Square Speakers, which means I now have my Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB) award. I had actually completed the other 9 speech projects by this past June (2008), so why has it taken me until November 24th to complete one speech?
Not long after I completed the 9th speech of the humorously speaking manual I became Vice President Education (VPE) for my club. It’s a role that requires a lot of work and dedication and involves serving other members (helping them secure speaking and leadership roles).
As a result of this level of work, it’s not always easy to be able to sit down and write a speech let alone a funny one. I finally managed to do this, as I’d gotten ahead of some of VPE tasks.
Lesson: Even though you set yourself a goal, with a target date, sometimes other things come up in life that are unavoidable and need to be dealt with. Don’t beat yourself up, simply re-set the goal.
The good thing was even though it took me another 5 months to complete I still managed to complete ACB in 11 months. The same amount of time that it took me to complete my Competent Communicator (CC) award. I wanted to do it quicker, but as I said sometimes other things get in the way.
So now I’m an Advanced Toastmaster I know everything right? Wrong. The great thing is there’s no end to the learning. I can progress further along the Toastmasters educational path. I can choose to do another ten advanced speeches to earn myself Advanced Communicator Silver. Beyond that I can work towards the Gold award as well as the Leadership awards; Advanced Leadership Bronze and Advanced Leadership Silver.
There seems to be a myth that people who have yet to achieve Competent Communicator status cannot evaluate an Advanced Speaker. Why not? Everybody has their own tastes and can provide their own view on things.
For instance, one of our newer club members thinks I’m much funnier when I’m spontaneous rather than when I write my speeches to be funnier. In all honesty, he’s right. That is a completely valid point and absolutely has some worth for me as a speaker even though he’s on speech number 8 in the CC manual. It’s his opinion and something I can learn from and take on board. It may even make me re-do the Humorously Speaking manual one day.
What I’m trying to master is capturing my spontaneous sense of humour and crafting that into a speech. Occasionally I miss the mark and the humour can sound forced. But we all have to be open to learning more about our craft whether you’re World Champion or you’ve just done your Toastmasters’ Ice Breaker speech.
Simon Bucknall, two-time U.K. and Ireland Public Speaking Champion, told me that Lance Miller the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking started the Competent Communicator manual again. Craig Valentine the 1999 World Champ bought a book on public speaking as soon as he got off the plane in his home state in the U.S.
So I’ve taken the next step up on the ladder of communication and am really looking forward to seeing where it takes me.