The Secret to Learning a Speech or Presentation

daniel-novta-5336855585_97a1ba3837_bFor most people when they learn a speech or presentation they learn it as they expect to say it,  i. e.  beginning at the start and reading through it to the end.  This is definitely a good way to learn a speech but there is one big problem with this method. You usually end up knowing the first half of the speech better than the second half. This is because when we make a mistakes we typically go back to the beginning of the speech and start again. The other problem with learning it in such a linear way is that if you go blank in the middle of the actual presentation,  it can be difficult to work out what to say next.

The way to solve this is called “Chunking” and it involves breaking your speech or presentation into smaller chunks of text. The trick is to learn each chunk of text individually i.e. as if each is a mini-speech and you don’t even have to learn them in any particular order, the key is to ensure that you know each chunk equally well  before learning all the chunks together.

There are a number of advantages to this method:

  1. Your delivery is consistent – you know every part of your presentation equally well thus you can present each chunk with passion and confidence.
  2. End with impact – Audiences don’t really remember most of what you say but they usually remember what you say last so it’s important to end strongly and with impact. By learning your speech in chunks then you know your ending as well as your opening, this gives you the extra confidence to punch home your message with a strong authoritative conclusion.
  3. Going blank – if for some reason you do go blank in the middle of  your presentation then it’s not a disaster, because you won’t have to go back to the start, there’s no need to panic, all you need to do is calmly move on to the next chunk and continue the presentation.

 

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

 

Image: Daniel Novta

Inspirational American Leaders

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Our next meeting falls on the same day as the US Elections but instead of talking politics we’re going to dedicate our meeting to the theme of Inspirational American Leaders as most great leaders have also been great speakers and after all, the only reason to give a speech is to change the world….

Brian will be our Inspirational leader and our world changers will be Leah, Kevn and Jean Marie, we’ll have an icebreaker speech from our newest member Leah, Kevin will tell a spooky story and Jean Marie will give tips on tackling table topics then we’ll have the chance to put those tips into action during Jag’s table topics session.

See you there!

When: 7.30pm, Tuesday 8th Novemebrr

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

Evaluation Tip: Organise Your Evaluation

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Evaluations are challenging.

You have to watch and listen carefully to a speech while at the same time trying making notes on the strong points and the areas that could be stronger and then you have 20-30 minutes to work out what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it and come up with solid suggestions to help your speaker become a more effective communicator.

It’s little wonder that with all this pressure that some evaluations can sound a bit disorganised but there is a very easy way to get around this problem, you need to remember that a good evaluation is a speech. Thinking of it as a speech gives you an automatic structure with a beginning, middle and end. Using this will help you sound more organised and confident when giving your evaluation.

Here are the 5 steps you can use to build an organised evaluation:

  1. For your opening, keep it simple, connect with the speaker and give brief outline of what you’re going to cover in your evaluation.
  1. Select a structure for your evaluation. Here are some popular structures:

The Sandwich method: Begin with something that the speaker did well then give an improvement with a helpful recommendation and wrap up with another of the speaker’s strengths.

P.O.S.E (Positives, Objectives, Suggestions, Encouragement): Start with the speaker’s strengths, outline the objectives for the speech, show the speaker how they can bring the speech to a higher level and round out with some encouraging words.

P.I.E.S (Positives, Improvements, Encouragement, Summary): Start with the speaker’s strengths, then suggestions and recommendations, encouragement and finish off with a summary of your evaluation.

G.L.O.V.E (Gestures, Language, Organisation, Voice, Enthusiasm): Break your evaluation into five sections – body language,  words and language used, speech structure, vocal variety and the passion of the speaker.

Try out different structures to see which suits the speakers’s needs best, if none of them work then look at developing your own structure.

  1. Read through your notes and choose only 2 or 3 points to discuss. Remember that you only have 2-3 minutes for your evaluation, if you choose too much to talk about then you will go over time. When selecting talking points concentrate on the strongest strengths and the areas in need of the most improvement.
  1. Don’t take your notes on stage with you. Instead, transfer the points that you want to talk about onto a separate piece of paper or better yet, put each point on its own notecard. This allows you to arrange your notes into the structure chosen above which helps you give a clear and focused evaluation.
  1. Wrap up with a very brief summary and some final words of encouragement for the speaker.

By following these steps you will be able to build and deliver a structured and focused evaluation which will ultimately help the speaker and the whole audience become more effective speakers and presenters.

 

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: marco antonio torres (flickr)

3 Steps to Writing a Great Speech

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Step 1: Your Audience

Before you start to write your speech or presentation think about who you will be speaking to, do they know anything about your topic? How do they feel about it? Do they even care?

It’s important to remember that giving a speech or presentation is not about you, it’s about your audience. You must be able to pitch your presentation at the right level for them, too technical and they’ll be confused, too easy and they’ll get bored.

To get an audience to listen to you you need to be able to answer the questions they’ll be asking in their heads:

  • Why should I care?
  • How will this affect me?
  • How will it benefit me?

Once you can answer these questions in your speech then every audience will love you.

 

 

Step 2: First Draft

With all this in mind write your first draft.

This is not about perfection. This is simply about getting all your ideas down on paper and this achieves two things:

  1. You’ve moved from the state of inaction where you are agonising over the right way to begin to a state of action and progress, this is a great place to be.
  2. No matter what else you do, you have achieved something and more than that it gives you something to work on and improve.

Once you’ve finished writing the first draft done say it out loud.

This helps greatly because what looks good written down doesn’t always sound good when you say it. For instance your sentences could be too long, there may be some words or sentences that are hard to say or sound wrong.

As you’re speaking it out loud, you will also notice parts of your speech that you will want to change, make quick notes of the changes as you find them and continue saying the speech.

Once you’ve finished, start on draft 2.

 

Step 3: Drafts 2 to X

Continue the cycle of writing the speech and then speaking it out loud. Each draft will require less and less changes. Keep this cycle going until you either reach a version that you are happy with or it is time to give the presentation.

Another advantage of this cycle of writing and speaking is that it’s also a form of practising, it gives you the chance to learn the flow and language of your speech

It’s important that as you write each draft to keep checking that your speech is still being pitched at the audience’s level and addressing their needs. As you write always ask: “Will my audience get this?”

 

Following these three steps will ensure that you always write a speech that people will want to listen to.

 

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

 

Image: EcoVirtual (Flickr)

Chasing Your Dreams

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The theme for next Tuesday’s meeting follows on nicely from our last two meetings, we have learnt to control and conquer our fears, we have learnt to how to set achievable goals, the next step is to take a giant leap forward and start chasing the dreams that set our imagination alive!
Think about it. What do you dream of doing? Who do you dream of being? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Bring your dreams along next Tuesday and share them with us. Kevin will be our Dream Master, Brian will be providing fantastical topics and we’ll have speeches from Jag and Selina.
Time: 7.30pm
Date: Tuesday 25th October
Place: The Lantern Centre, Synge St, Dublin 8
(with free parking)
For more details of our meeting click here.

Image: Symphony of Love/Hermann Traub

Conquer Your Fear with Toasmasters

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Does the idea of standing up and speaking in front of a group of people terrify you?
Yeah, me too.
So it’s only fitting that the theme of our next meeting is “Conquer Your Fear” because that’s what Toastmasters is about, it’s about creating a comfortable environment where you can learn to deal with your speaking nerves and gain the confidence to present in front of an audience.
To help you conquer your fear of speaking and presenting, Jean-Marie will give an educational called “Controlling Your Fear”, not only that but we’ll have our usual impromptu speaking section as well as speeches from Carmen, Miao and Michael.
Cogito Toastmasters Dublin
Time: 7.30pm
Date: Tuesday 11th October
Place: The Lantern Centre, Synge St, Dublin 8
(with free parking)
For more details of our meeting click here.

Image: Symphony of Love/Kate Ter Haar

Evaluation Tip: Plan and Prepare Your Evaluation

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When you take on the role of being an evaluator at a Toastmasters meeting, your main objective should be to inspire your speaker to become a better communicator.

The key to doing this effectively is preparation.

The more you prepare, the better you will be able to help the speaker improve.

While most toastmasters can give a “good enough” evaluation if they talk to a speaker five minutes before a club meeting, it is when we take the opportunity to put in more preparation time that we find that have the ability to deliver a great evaluation that is tailor-made for our speaker’s goals and needs.

There are 4 steps to perfect preparation:

  1.  Read the project description so that you are clear about the objectives for the speech.  Do this every time. Even if you’ve evaluated the project many times, read the objective again, remember this is not for you but to help you give the best feedback to your speaker.
  1. Contact the speaker. If you can, try to do this about a week before the meeting. Find out more about them and their own personal speaking objectives because we don’t join toastmasters to complete manuals, we join to improve ourselves or to gain confidence. The more you can cater for these personal goals the better you will be able to help the speaker. Here are some sample questions you could ask:

Are there any areas from previous projects that they want to work on?
Do they have any personal objectives for that project?
What are their long term improvement goals?
What type of feedback would they appreciate?

  1. Using the manual objectives and the speaker’s personal objectives, make a checklist of areas to watch out for during the speech.
  1. The day before and also just before the meeting, touch base with the speaker so that you’re up to date with their progress and are aware of any issues that have been overcome or new issues encountered by the speaker.

It is by following these 4 steps that you will be able to craft an evaluation that will focus on the needs of the speaker and give them the best chance to grow as a speaker and communicator.

I know that this sounds like a lot of work for a simple evaluation but let me ask you a question:

If you were the speaker, which would you prefer?

An evaluator who just glances over the project or someone who takes the time to prepare?

 

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: Samuel Mann (Flickr)

Making Dreams Come True

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What are your goals? What are your ambitions?

Our next meeting is all about goal setting, bring your ideas, your ambitions and your dreams, and in the meeting Michelle will show you how to set clear goals and how to plan to achieve them.

Not only that but John will be giving his second speech and Kevin and Jean-Marie will be practising their speeches for the Area Humorous Speech contest..

The meeting begins at 7.30pm in the Lantern Centre so come along and maybe we can help you reach your goal of becoming a better speaker and presenter.

For more details of our meeting click here.

Cogito Toastmasters Dublin
Image: Symphony of Love/John Haro

And the Winners Are…

There was magic and laughter in the air last Tuesday as five very creative and funny people took the stage and entertained us in both the humorous speech and table topics contests, making it very difficult for our judges to choose a winner…

Humorous Speech

In our humorous speech contest, we had three funny speaker battle it out for the speaking crown: Miao gave lessons to all the men in the audience about the difference between men and women, Jean-Marie showed us how to deal with our fears and Kevin demonstrated his talent for procrastinating especially when it comes to speech-writing.

And the winners were:
1st Place: Kevin
2nd Place: Jean-Marie
3rd Place: Miao

Kevin and Jean-Marie will go on to represent the club at the Area 7 Humorous Speech Contest on October 7th

 

Table Topics Contest

In the Table Topics contest the contestants were challenged to explain the situation where “A man is lying dead, face down in the desert. There’s a match in his hand. What happened?” and they delivered wonderous imaginative stories to solve the mysterious situation.

And the winners were:
1st Place: John
2nd Place: Kevin
3rd Place: Jean-Marie

John and Kevin will go on to represent the Cogito Toastmasters Dublin at the Area 7 Table Topics Contest on October 7th.

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Winning speakers John, Jean-Marie and Kevin with Club President Dermot

Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest

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It’s contest time again at Cogito and this time we’ve got something very special for you, it’s our annual Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest. If you want a night filled with fun and laughter then the Lantern Centre is the place to be on Tuesday 13th September at 7.30pm.

We start the evening with the humorous speech contest with three speakers  whose only goal is make you roar with laughter then we challenge our members impromptu speaking in our Table Topics contest, and if you though the speeches were funny, you’ll be amazed at what people can come up during table topics.

It’s going to be a great night, we’d love to see you there!

To see the agenda for the contest click here

 

 

image: Robert Yocum (Flickr)