CC Speech 7: Research Your Topic

The seventh project in the Competent Communicator Manual is: Research Your Topic.

The purpose of this project is to practice finding information from a variety of sources to support and enhance your speech.

My speech for this project was called: Speed Geeking.

In support of my speech, I researched Speed Geeking as thoroughly as possible to get background, supporting information on the topic for my speech.

In the speech, I opened with a quick introduction of the topic, drawing a parallel with speed dating, a more familiar concept, after which Speed Geeking was named.

I provided a description of the methodology of Speed Geeking as well as its benefits and challenges.  Then I gave a brief history and discussed different uses from my research.  I also discussed possibilities for using it in the context of a Toastmasters meeting.

When it came time to give the speech, I did not feel that I had prepared enough, but it went very well and was well-received.  I realized at that point, that this had happened before and that I often feel less prepared than I am.

With this new piece of self-awareness, I feel I can move past one more obstacle in my path to becoming a better communicator.


My eighth speech is scheduled for December 22, so I will be suspending these posts on the Competent Communication Manual until after that.  In the meantime, look for a series of posts detailing the projects of the Competent Leadership Manual, and my journey to that accomplishment.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Our  club had its meeting today, despite it being the day before Thanksgiving and many people being out of town.

I had planned on resorting to an all Table Topics meeting given the expected low turnout.

As a pleasant surprise, we actually had two members volunteer to present prepared speeches.


I served as Table Topics Master today, as well as Toastmaster to keep things moving smoothly since I had planned to have to do without speeches.

For the Table Topics, I presented eight holiday-inspired questions in honor of Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season.  I will share the questions below.

As a fun exercise, I’d love to read your answers to the questions in the comments.

Let’s hear what you have to say!

  1. Describe your favorite meal growing up.  What was it?  What do you remember fondly about it?
  2. Describe your best or most memorable Christmas Gift.
  3. What types of holiday traditions did you have in your family?
  4. Tell a story about your Grandparents.
  5. Count your blessings: list as many things as possible that you’re thankful for, and why.
  6. Describe your ideal vacation.  What would you do?  Where would you go?
  7. Tell us about a gift you really wanted when you were a child, but didn’t get.
  8. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for someone else?


Distinguished Club Program Status Update

Our club has achieved its first educational award for the year!

One of our members has completed her Competent Leader manual.

This brings our club’s Distinguished Club Program point total to four.

Congratulations to our newest Competent Leader!

We will present her with the Competent Leader certificate and pin in December.


On another note, I have begun mentoring one of our new members. I’m helping him work on his Ice Breaker speech and getting him signed up for meeting roles to keep him moving forward towards his Competent Leader and Competent Communicator goals.

Our Vice-President Education has scheduled all our new members to present their Ice Breakers within the next two months.   This is really a move in the right direction and I hope we can do something similar with our more experienced members who haven’t given their Ice Breakers yet.


CC Speech 6: Vocal Variety

The sixth project in the Competent Communicator manual is: Vocal Variety.

The goal of this project is to practice using variations of tone, volume and pacing to add interest to your speech.

For this project, I reprised my earlier speech: Bugs.

Toastmasters allows you to present the same speech for multiple projects, provided it fulfills the requirements for both projects.

The reason I used the same speech is because I was competing in our club’s Humorous Speech Contest and I had used the speech for project 5 as a dry run for the contest.

Because of the very emotive nature of the speech, I felt it would be a good fit for practicing vocal variety.

There were positives and negatives to the decision.

On the plus side, I do think that the speech did lend itself to both projects and I did use some vocal variety in my second presentation.

However, on the minus side, I think I would have focused better on the goal of the project had I not also been focused on competing in the contest.

As a result, I probably need to be more mindful of vocal variety in my future speeches since I didn’t get as much practice in this area as I could have.

That’s why Toastmasters is a learning experience.

Banner Day

Today, our “sister club”, my company’s second Toastmasters club had its Charter Ceremony.

Our Virginia District Governor, our Eastern Division Governor and our Area Governor were all in attendance to welcome the new club into the Toastmasters family.

They were given their charter and their banner.  Each of the charter members were presented with Charter Member certificates.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what all this has to do with me, since this blog has always been all about me.

My angle is that I am one of the mentors of this new club; it’s my job to support the new club and help it grow.  I’ve been watching the club from their first, tentative meetings, helping I hope, and have seen them develop their skills.  I’m very proud of the club, and expect to see great things from it.


Quick First Poll

Hello all.  In an effort to get to know my audience a bit better, I’m running my first poll.  I appreciate any and all feedback.


CC Speech 5: Your Body Speaks

The fifth project in the Competent Communicator manual is: Your Body Speaks.

The objective of this project is to use a combination of eye contact, facial expression and body language to enhance your speech.

My speech for this project was: “Bugs!”

In this speech, I described my aversion to bugs and shared anecdotes from my life where bugs have freaked me out.

I chose this topic for two reasons:

  1. I knew acting out my freak-outs would lend itself well to broad gestures and wild body language.
  2. I knew it would be a funny topic and planned to use it as my entry in my club’s Humorous Speech Contest (more on this in my next CC post).

I was a little unsure if the humor would come across well, even though I’m generally considered a funny guy.

It turns out that I had no reason to worry; the speech was very well-received and I got a lot of laughs.

Speaking for laughs was such a good experience, that I plan to do the Humorously Speaking manual when I go for my Advanced Communicator Bronze.

CC Speech 4: How to Say It

The fourth project in the Competent Communicator manual is How to Say It.

The goal of this project is to give a speech using descriptive words and techniques such as alliteration, repetition, metaphors and similes to paint a picture with words, avoiding abstractions and jargon and keeping the images and language concrete.

My speech for this project was entitled: A Pleasant Evening.  I couldn’t think of a more clever title, but it suited my purposes.

When I initially put together the speech, I concentrated on evenings I had spent with friends watching my friend sing and play her guitar at the Pier Cafe in Virginia Beach.

I chose that as my main focus because those nights were intensely sensory experiences.  There were aspects of the evenings that lent themselves to vivid descriptions of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile experiences.

When I started practicing the speech, I found that I was consistently going under the required five minutes.  I knew I needed to add more to it without making the addition seem artificially tacked  on.

At the time, work had been more stressful than usual and I was working hard to deal with it without letting it get to me too much.  Using that as inspiration, I decided to devote the first part of the speech to giving a vivid description of how the stress was affecting me.

I was able to integrate this into the speech by contrasting the stress of work with the calm of the evenings at the Pier Cafe. I transitioned between the two by describing how I was able to use the memory of more pleasant times to help me keep things in the proper perspective and battle back the effects of the stress.

I feel that adding the discussion of stress worked well with the contrasting description of the pleasant evening.

Competent Communicator Speeches

Get to the Point

How to Say It

Your Body Speaks

New Speech Contest Rules

Hat tip to Um Er YouKnow… for the heads-up.

New speech contest rules for 2011 have been announced and there are some changes.

You can follow the link above to see all the changes, but the ones that interest me most are the ones having to do with contestant and judge requirements.

Beginning on January 1, 2011, to judge at any contest above the club level or compete in any speech contest, you must have completed at least six (6) speech projects from the Competent Communicator manual.

Previously, this was only a requirement for competing in the International Speech Contest.

I see this as having the most impact on newer clubs.  But, as a positive, it can certainly serve as a motivator for new Toastmasters to get moving on working towards their CC.

EDIT: The stricken rule change above was rescinded on November 10, 2010.

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