Next Meeting: International Speech Contest – Round 2


Next Tuesday Cogito will be hosting the second round of this year’s Toastmasters’ International Speech and Evaluation Contest and the best speakers and evaluators from Cogito, Uncensored Speakers and Vox Populi Toastmasters will be battling it out for a place in the next round.So if you want to see 6 inspirational speeches, 6 insightful evaluations  and meet some of the best speakers in Dublin then come along on Tuesday evening  and join the fun! 

See you there!

When: 7pm, Tuesday 11th April

Where: The Lantern Centre, 15 Synge St (click here to see a map)

To sign up or see the agenda of the meeting, click here

The Key To a Great Presentation: Knowing Your Audience


The success of every speech and presentation is down to answering one simple question:

Who is it for?

How you answer this question will determine the success of your presentation and the key to giving a great presentation is to be able to answer the one question that every audience member wants answered – what’s in it for me? i.e. why should they listen to you? How will they benefit from your presentation? How are you going to change their lives? You need to make sure that each and every presentation that you give is focused completely on your audience, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

In order to do this effectively you need to learn about the people who will be listening to you:

  • Who are they? What is their age range, gender, profession, cultural background etc.
  • What do they know about your subject? It’s important to pitch your presentation at the right level for the audience, too technical and they’ll be confused, too easy and they’ll get irritable. It’s also likely that you will get a mixed level audience and you will need to cater your presentation for all levels.
  • What are their expectations? Do they expect to be trained, informed, persuaded, motivated or entertained?
  • What is their language ability? Are you speaking to people whose first language isn’t English? Knowing the language level allows you to choose the right words to get your ideas across, you may also need to speak slower and this might mean that you will have to cut down the information you will be covering as it will take longer to say…

Before you write your presentation, ask yourself, who am I speaking to? The more you know, the better your presentation is going to be.


If you enjoyed this post then why not try more of our presentation tips:


image: PopTech (Flickr)

Embrace Hope At Our Next Meeting

Symphony Of Love (14096157807_2b5faa6847_b)

It’s Spring and with Spring comes change and now is the time to change the way you give presentations, stand up, speak out and take that first step towards being a better speaker by coming along to our next meeting. Wenhui will be our Toastmaster and she has chosen the theme of “Spring Hope”, we’ll have Eimear giving her Icebreaker and a couple of award-winning speakers as well as the always entertaining table topics.

See you there!

When: 7.30pm, Tuesday 28th March

Where: The Lantern Centre, 17 Synge St (click here to see a map)

To sign up or see the agenda of the meeting, click here


image: Symphony of Love (Flickr)

The Secret to Helping a Speaker Grow

Hash Milhan (2089058279_19e60328a4_b)Effective evaluations are all down to the recommendations that you give. Your suggestions to your speaker will be the main driving force that helps your evaluatees grow as speakers and become effective communicators.

Tips for Recommendations

  1. Be prepared. Talk to the speaker before the presentation, they will be able to tell you the areas that they want to work on and the areas that they’ve had difficulty with in the past, make sure to look out for these during the speech and find ways to to help the speaker become stronger in those aspects of their presentation.
  2. Focus on how the speaker can get better. For every area of improvement, have a recommendation. And don’t just look at the weak areas of a presentation, also look at the speaker’s strengths, are there areas that could go from good to great and what steps are needed to make that happen?
  3. Be specific. Give detailed instructions on what needs to be done to make the speech stronger and be sure to explain why taking these actions will make the speech better, it adds a lot of value to the speaker if you explain why.
  4. Always give recommendations. You can’t help a speaker improve if you don’t give them recommendations. That can be difficult because you may not want to upset the speaker or because the speaker is very good. Do not worry about upsetting a speaker, they want to improve and they want you to help them. As for good speakers, no speaker is THAT good, there’s always something that can get better, be really picky, if there’s 15 seconds of the presentation that didn’t work for you then concentrate on that.

How Many Recommendations?

Sometimes the effectiveness of an evaluation comes down to the number of recommendations that you give. Naturally the amount of feedback depends on each speaker but a good guide is:

Icebreakers:  1 recommendation
2nd – 5th Speech:  2 recommendations
6th – 10th Speech:  2-3 recommendations

For advanced speakers they will want to know how they can push their speaking to new heights so focus more on recommendations than strengths and give as many suggestions as you can.

Above all else remember the most important rule of all: Always give recommendations!


This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator. To learn more about evaluating, check out these posts:


image: Hash Milan (Flickr)

Ride the Contest Wave


Last night we had a great turnout to cheer on our contestants and we had great speeches, insightful evaluations and some very interesting answers to challenging table topics.

And the winners were:

Evaluation International Speech Contest
  1. Victor
  2. Wenhui
  3. Brian
  1. Michelle
  2. Victor

Victor, Wenhui and Michelle will go on to represent the club in the next round of the contest to compete with contestants from Vox Populi and Uncensored Speakers on April 11th at the Lantern Centre.

If you enjoyed last night’s contest then why not try out some of the other contests going on in Dublin:

Club When Where
Vox Populi Wednesday 15th March Mount St Lwr, Dublin 2
Uncensored Speakers Friday 24th March Exchequer St, Dublin 2
Powertalk Monday 20th March Haddington Rd, Dublin 4
Engineers Toastmasters Tuesday 28th March at 20:00 Engineers Ireland, Ballsbridge
The Hellfire Club Tuesday 28th March at 20:00 Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin 4
Dublin 18 Toastmasters Tuesday 28th March 17 at 20:00 Clayton Hotel, Leopardstown
Dun Laoghaire Toastmasters Monday 27th March at 19:45 Dun Laoghaire
Lucan Toastmasters Thursday 30th March at 20:00 Springfield Hotel, Lucan
Swords Toastmasters Monday 20th March at 8 pm Carnegie Court Hotel – North St. Swords
Bray Toastmasters 27th March 2017 at 20:15 Espanade Hotel, Bray

Round 2 (Area level)

Area When Where
Area 2 7pm, 23rd March Institute of Chartered Accountants, Pearse St
Area 7 7.30pm, 11th April 2017 The Lantern Centre
15 Synge St
Dublin 8
Area 10 28th March 2017 Carlton Hotel, Old Airport Road, Co Dublin
Area 18 10th April 2017 The 51 Bar, Haddington Rd, Dublin 4
Area 54 11th April 17 Clayton Hotel, Leopardstown

Round 3 (Division Level)

Division When Where
Division M – E Ireland Corporate Contest Tuesday 21st March 2017 at 17:00 Tuesday 21st March 2017 at 17:00 TBA
Division C Sunday 9th April 2017 at 12:00 The Regency Hotel, Dublin 9
Division M Sunday 23rd April 2017 Starting at 14:00 Fair Isle Hotel, Naas Rd

Round 4 (District level)

District 71 13-14th May 2017 Worsley Marriott Hotel and Country Club

Round 5 & 6 – International Finals

Semi-finals Tuesday August 23 Vancouver, Canada
World Finals Saturday 26th August Vancouver, Canada

Every Word Matters, Stand Up and Speak

speechcontestEvery year, all across the world, 15,000 Toastmasters clubs hold their annual International Speech and Evaluation contests. Our next meeting will be the first round of a contest that will result in one person being named the World Champion of Public Speaking.

Every contest is adventure for anyone who takes part as you never know how far you might go but there is one thing guaranteed you will be a better speaker and communicator afterwards.

Come along to our contest on March 14th to see some potential World Champions as they eloquently deliver their speeches and charm, inspire and entertain you.


When: 7.30pm, Tuesday 14th March

Where: The Lantern Centre, 17 Synge St (click here to see a map)

To sign up or see the agenda of the meeting, click here


image: pixlars (Flickr)

7 Techniques to Tackle Table Topics


Einstein described relativity as:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

For a lot of people, standing up and giving an impromptu speech for 1-2 minutes is exactly like putting your hand on a hot stove, that 60 seconds of agony feels like it will never end…

In Cogito we’ve found that the best way to get better at impromptu speaking is to practice it as much as you can, and we do this in our Table Topics section each meeting.

Here are 7 tactics that you can use to improve your impromptu speaking:

1. Make a Decision

When you’re asked a question, pause for a moment and ask yourself – do you agree or disagree with the question? Deciding to agree or disagree makes answering the question easier as it gives you a clear direction for your answer. Once you’ve decided, declare it to the audience i.e:“ I agree wholeheartedly”, this will make you look strong and decisive. All you need to do now is explain why you made this decision which is what we will deal with next.

2. Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About

Once you’ve declared your direction, continue by stating “And there are three reason why”. You probably won’t have 3 reasons when you say this but doing this gives you an automatic structure to your response. It makes you appear knowledgeable and gives you a little bit of time to get your ideas in order. All you really need to do now is come up with one reason to start with, it doesn’t have to be a strong reason, just something to get you talking. Then as you start to talk, you’ll relax and another reason will come to mind and then another, all the while the audience will think you know what you’re talking about…

3. Answer Both Sides of the Question

As an alternative to making an instant decision to agree or disagree, you can adopt a measured approach to your response i.e. “This is not a simple question and to really answer it properly we need to look at both viewpoints”. The advantage of this approach is that it doubles the amount of things that you can say by allowing you state both the pros and the cons underlying the question asked. For this tactic, it is important that you wrap up well so based on the evidence that you gave for both sides, make a decision for one side or the other and use it as your conclusion, this way you end with a strong declaration and again sound like you know what you’re talking about.

4. Avoid the Question

There will be times when you can’t think of anything to say and you go blank, and that’s okay, this will happen from time to time but you still have an opportunity to stand up and practice speaking so use it by using a very simple political tactic: avoiding the question. Think of something else to talk about, something that you do feel comfortable talking about and then switch to that topic i.e. “We could talk for hours about the intricacies of tax law but lets not torture ourselves, instead let’s talk about bubbles – did you know that bubbles…..”

5. Make it Personal

It’s easier to answer questions where you’re the expert and know all about the topic, and the one area where you’re always the expert is your own life and experiences so when asked a table topics question see if you can find a way to relate the topic to your life. When you listen to the questions, ask yourself, is there a lesson or story from your life that suits the subject, if so then use it, personal stories can have a very powerful effect on your audience and since it’s your story, there’s no risk of forgetting it and going blank.

6. Lie!

If you can’t think of anything then make something up, pretend that you’re someone who knows the answer and just start talking, sometimes the key to a good table topics response is sounding confident, you can get away with a lot when you sound confident. Remember that table topics is not about telling the truth it’s about thinking on your feet and impromptu speaking so lie, steal, cheat, use every trick you know to craft a speech out of thin air, besides you probably know a lot more than you think you do.

7. Just Talk

The hardest part of impromptu speaking is that those first moments on stage, your nerves are jangling, you’re anxious that you don’t know how to answer the question and all this is preventing you from saying anything, so forget about trying to answer the question perfectly and just say anything. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t even have to be related to the topic, just talk to get going, this will help calm the nerves and the anxiety and allow your mind the time to relax and come up with a really good response to the question asked.


As you practice impromptu speaking more and more in our meetings a strange thing happens, you start to want to be chosen for a difficult or challenging question. Every question will unfold as a new opportunity for you to flex your mental muscles and create an imaginative, refreshing response, and it’ll be fun too!

The biggest secret to impromptu speaking success is: If you have no idea what to say, say something you do know how to say!


image: PopTech (Flickr)