I was at my Toastmasters club Grosvenor Speakers, this past Monday night. I was in the role of Time-Keeper. For anybody reading this blog unfamiliar with any of the support roles at Toastmasters use the previous link.
I had taken on this role because I have yet to do the role and also I need to complete my Competent Leadership manual (I didn’t previously get myself evaluated when I took roles on in the past hence having to play catch up now).
The president of the club mentioned before the evening began a speaker had dropped out and asked anyone (i.e.: me) if they had a speech. I didn’t have one prepared. Lesson learnt: always have a speech ready to go to pull out of the bag at short notice!
I thought about it for a few minutes and came up with a subject that I was really interested in: Web 2.0. I’m still learning lots about this subject, but I already know a fair amount about blogs, Myspace and Facebook. I am in no way an expert on this subject, but I am certainly passionate about it and a keen student!
So on the back of my club’s programme of events I Mind Mapped a speech. I gave it an effective three-point Toastmasters structure, an opening and a closing. Each point I made, I backed it up with examples.
Every spare moment I had between timing the different parts of the evening (which wasn’t many) I looked over the Mind Map. When I was announced as the second speaker for the evening I took the Mind Map with me and went to the stage.
I glanced at my notes once, just before starting then I launched into my speech.
It flowed smoothly and never dropped a beat. I had a pretty good grasp of my subject, so the information flowed. I did my best not to overwhelm people with detail and bit too technical (believe you me, I’m no webmaster).
I made sure that I opened my speech by getting the audience to raise their hands showing me how many people in the room had heard of my subject. It was just under half. So I knew how I had to pitch it.
Around the 7 minute mark I delivered a memorable closer, which rhymed and got me my only laugh of the evening, and I left the stage.
I got some very nice feedback both from my fellow toastmasters as well as my evaluator. I was complimented on my energy and ability to think on my feet.
My main criticism was that I didn’t allow for any pause for thought. Not that I just rattled through my speech at break-neck speed, but that I could’ve taken the time to create more tension in my audience.
It was a fair comment. However, it’s not going to be something that I am overly concerned about as I was making it up as I went along.
I wanted to make sure that I got my message across and had a clear and definite structure, both of which I achieved. I wasn’t bothered about getting laughs. I wanted things to be as clean as possible.
I just saw that over at “The Public Speaking Blog” fellow speaker Eric Feng talks about Crafting a Speech in 60 Seconds using a technique by Richard C. Borden. Whilst I know the technique and agree that it is very useful, it’s something that I think is good to have in the toolbox, but not really necessary.
I think that if you know your subject well enough so your passion comes through, you find an angle on how it applies to your listeners (in my case I spoke about the importance of Web 2.0 in terms of public speaking and toastmasters) and you use a solid structure you can certainly create killer content off the cuff!!
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