Jeff McRaven discusses how he tackled project 4 of the Competent Communication handbook.
Title – The Great Molasses Flood of 1919
Project 4 is all about using correct grammar. That’s simple for me ‘cause I talk goodly. In fact, I’m probably the bestest talker I know. Like totally, you know?
In truth, my mother was an English major. When I was naughty, she made me read Edmund Spenser poetry. I was a VERY good child.
The main thing here is to watch your um’s and ah’s, pronounce everything correctly, and stay away from jargon and slang. In short, use correct English. The best piece of advice I can offer is to stay within yourself. By that I mean don’t try to use words you don’t ordinarily use. If it sounds odd to you, it will sound odd to your audience.
‘Slow down’ is good advice too. If you talk fast, you are more bound to slur words together or clip the ends of words. That’s a sure-fire way to turn “thrust” into “thruss”.
Coming up with ideas for a speech is tricky. Sometimes it is helpful to have examples to spark ideas.
Or maybe you are considering joining Toastmasters? Part of being a member is working through the projects in the Competent Communication handbook. Each project has you focus on a different area to help build speaking skills.
See below for one Toastmaster’s experience with the third project–
Project 3 – Get to the Point
Title – The Difference Between Hard Drive and Memory
I have a degree in computer science. I know. You think I’m a nerd. Well I’m not. I have a couple exciting hobbies. In my spare time I build electronic devices and I also read about U. S. history. Ladies, the line forms to the left.
Anyway, the manual said I should give a speech with a clear and specific purpose. As a computer support guy, I am constantly confronted with people saying they need more memory because it is full. Or they need a new hard drive because they only have four gigabytes. Riiiight. So over the years, I’d developed a short lecture about the difference between hard drive and memory. This one was easy peasy because I was explaining something I had explained dozens of times before.
So that’s my advice. Everybody has something they explain constantly. Explain it to us.
When writing the speech, try starting with a single sentence that is the point of what you are talking about (this is called a thesis). For example: “domestic cars are best.” Then, get rid of anything that doesn’t directly relate to the thesis. Make your points, but never get very far away from your thesis.
by Jeff McRaven
What are the Toastmasters speech projects like? Are you a new Toastmaster and are stumped about how to handle your second speech? No worries! Here’s a brief note from a Toastmaster about how to handle your second speech.
Project 2 – Organize Your Speech
Title – The War of 1812
For this speech I needed to come up with a speech that had a logical progression. The United States had just finished the bicentennial remembrance of the War of 1812 and so there were a lot of shows about it on the various nerd channels I watch. I had just finished reading a couple books on the subject, so it seemed to me to be a logical choice. I would summarize the major events of the war, and present them in chronological order.
Chronological order is the easiest way to deliver a speech. Ideas could be what happened on a camping trip or vacation, or some event in your life. Just tell us what happened in the order in which it happened. Stick with what you know well.
Chronological order is simplest and easiest, but it is not the only way to organize a speech. You could advocate a position and give the three most compelling reasons for that position. You could talk about the decision process in your company, and talk about the layers of management the decision needs to go up before it is approved. Whatever. Just be logical and sensible.
Our first speech in Toastmasters is the Icebreaker. It can be scary! BUT, you — like all of us — can get through it.
Many of us when we’re starting out wonder what the Icebreaker speech is all about.
Here are some tips from a Toastmaster…
Project 1 – Icebreaker
Title – The Complete History of Jeff McRaven (Abridged)
I gave a short bio of myself. There were a number of embellishments. Nobody noticed or cared.
For a lot of people, public speaking is right up there with spiders and heights, so the whole purpose of this speech is just to get you started. For many, this is the most agonizing speech. But it doesn’t need to be. We all understand that you are nervous and you have to start somewhere.
Honestly, you could get up there and absolutely tank. Don’t worry about it! We get it. We’re here to encourage you.
We’ll like your speech. It won’t matter what you say. What you have to say is almost incidental to the speech. We are seeing someone work up the courage to try. We love to see that. The speech itself is icing on the cake.
For those of us who love pushing our own limits — I know that you are on the edge of your seats for a new page!
Here you go…Body Language — What it Says About You
You could give a TED Talk.
Think about it. If you have an innovative, original idea, you could be up there. You could be walking the red dot.
Many of us are Toastmasters because we enjoy challenging ourselves. How else do you explain signing up for a club that forces us to face the fear of public speaking? How else do you explain the willingness to work at this all the time?
‘Ah,’ you say, ‘but I’ve found that it’s a lot of fun!’ Well, of course it is! Challenging yourself and discovering that you CAN do it — a lot of fun.
If you’re past the first hurdle of overcoming jitters (well, most of them), consider what is your next challenge going to be? It could be TED.
That said, here’s the article. Let me know if you are chosen!
How to Land a TED Talk