Humorously Speaking: Make Them Laugh.

The third project  of the Humorously Speaking manual is: Make Them Laugh.

This is a five to seven-minute speech that begins and ends with a humorous story and is interspersed with jokes throughout.

My speech’s tile was: “Dare To Be Stupid“, after the Weird Al Yankovic song.

My opening story was about a presentation I had seen by Darren LaCriox at a recent District Conference.  I talked about his taking a pratfall during his World Champion of Public Speaking speech and the importance of not letting the fear of failure or looking stupid prevent you from reaching towards achievement.

I used that as a springboard to discuss how a Toastmasters meeting is a safe, encouraging place where we don’t need to be afraid of looking silly so we can build up our skills and confidence to speech outside of the club setting.

I then mentioned that my biggest fear in public speaking is drawing a blank.  This let into me closing story about my last speech, which was presented outside of the club.  I did, in fact, draw a blank during that speech but was able to draw upon my Toastmasters training to recover and continue with my speech.


Humorously Speaking: Leave Them With A Smile

The second project in the Humorously Speaking Advanced Communicator Manual is: Leave Them With A Smile.

The goal of this project is to present a speech on a serious topic that begins and ends with a humorous story.

For this project, I presented a speech at my company’s annual Technology Expo promoting the benefits of Toastmasters.

In order to show what Toastmasters had done for me, I told the story of giving my Ice Breaker speech and how nervous I was.  The punchline was the written feedback I had gotten that said: “For God’s sake man, breathe!”

From there, I showed what an improvement Toastmasters had helped me to achieve, by continuing to breathe throughout my presentation.

I discussed the many opportunities for advancement in Leadership and Public Speaking skills.

To close, I mentioned that there have been many famous Toastmasters.

Since my audience was all technology workers, I focused on Leonard Nimoy.

I said that there was no guarantee that being in Toastmasters would get you the job of Science Officer of a starship, but that you never could tell.



Humorously Speaking: Warm Up Your Audience

For the first project in the Humorously Speaking Advanced Communicator manual is Warn Up Your Audience.

The goal of this project is to present a speech that begins with a humorous story.

My speech for the project was entitled: I Could Be Wrong.

I began the speech with a story of the time I saw a spider in the shower and washed it down the drain.  As I was rinsing out my hair, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that I was sure was the spider come back for revenge.  I must have jumped fifty feet before I took a closer look and realized that it was just a razor.

I used the story to make the point that, however certain you are that you are right.   It never hurts to take a minute and make sure.

The speech was quite well-received and I feel the funny, self-deprecating story went a long way to making a speech which could easily have been taken as preachy much more effective.

Toastmasters Year in Review (2011-2012)

The 2011-2012 Toastmasters year has just come to a close and now is the time for a retrospective review of this past year events and accomplishments.

I started the year with the challenge of serving four separate clubs as Area Governor while still helping to guide my own club as Immediate Past President and keeping on track with my personal educational goals.

Serving as Area Governor was challenging and very rewarding.  I was able to get to know many fellow Toastmasters and help the clubs in my area to define and achieve their goals.  As an Area Governor, I also served as part of the District Executive Committee.  There was a lot of traveling involved (up and down the entire State), but I’m glad I stepped up.  My area ended the year as a Distinguished Area.

In my club, I helped to advise the current President to lead our club to achieve Select Distinguished Club status and formed the Nominating Committee to propose nominees for this coming year’s Club Officers.

For my personal educational goals, I completed my Advanced Communicator Bronze and lead several committees as part of my High Performance Leadership project to increase participation and attendance at our club meetings.

In all, I would call this a very successful year.

My plans for the coming year are:

  • Serve as my club’s Vice-President Education, with a goal of having four members complete their Competent Communicator.
  • Finish off my High-Performance Leadership project, which will achieve Advanced Leader Silver.
  • Complete my Advanced Communicator Silver.




Special Occasion Speeches: Accepting an Award

The fifth and final project in the Special Occasion Speeches Advanced Communicator manual is: Accepting an Award.

The objective of this project is to accept an award with dignity, grace and sincerity.

I presented the speech for this project after my year as Club President.  We had earned the Select Distinguished Club award.

I accepted the award on behalf of the club.  I acknowledged the work of all the club members and especially the Club Officers.

The main criticism of my speech was that I spent a bit too much time describing the specifics of the Distinguished Club Program criteria, but otherwise, I met the criteria of grace, dignity and sincerity.


Special Occasion Speeches: Presenting An Award

The fourth project in the Special Occasion Speeches Advanced Communication Manual is: Presenting An Award.

The goal of this project is to present a three to four-minute speech that presents an award with dignity and grace and acknowledges the contributions of the recipient.

For this speech, I presented the Ice Breaker ribbon to a member who had completed his first speech project.

In my speech, I congratulated the member for the courage he showed in getting up in front of the club for the first time to give a speech.  I expressed gratitude for the inspiration he provided for our other members who still had their Ice Breaker in front of them, including some who were giving their Ice Breaker presentations that day.

Word of the Wednesday Triple Play: altiloquent/grandiloquent/magniloquent

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is a special Triple Play in honor of my completing my last Advanced Communicator Bronze Speech.

The words are: altiloquent, grandiloquent and magniloquent.

These words each mean roughly the same thing: overblown or pompous speech.

They come from the Latin loqui- meaning speech and alti-, grandi- and magni- meaning high, great and big,  respectively.

Of course, each word is also an example of their meaning.


Special Occasion Speeches: The Roast

For the third speech project in the Special Occasion Speeches Advanced Communicator Manual, I was tasked to present a three to five minute roast.

The goal was to use humor and anecdotes to gently poke fun at the guest of honor of an occasion such as an anniversary banquet or farewell party.

For this project, I chose to roast a fellow member of my Toastmasters club and former work supervisor.

I picked one or two of her more salient characteristics and exaggerated the description of them for humorous effect.  I closed the speech on a positive note expressing how those very characteristics make her such a great asset to the club.

As a whole, the speech was very well-received and got a lot of laughs.  The one suggestion I received was to use more vocal variety to enhance the humor of the presentation.

Special Occasion Speeches: Speaking in Praise

For Mothers Day, in honor of my mother I will discuss my speech for the second project in the Special Occasion Speeches Advanced Communicators Manual: Speaking in Praise.

The goal of this project is to honor an individual with the speech.

My mother passed on soon after I joined Toastmasters and at the time, I wished I was comfortable enough to deliver a eulogy for her.  I took this project as an opportunity to do just that.

While I did choke up a bit from time to time during the speech, I am proud to say that I was able to hold it together enough to honor a woman worthy of honor.

I talked about how she was able to raise seven children to become genuinely good people while working full-time to support them. At the same time I stressed that she knew when to reach out for help when it was needed.

She treated each of her children as individuals which taught me the importance of family while still allowing me to become my own person.

One of her most important lessons to me was not to dwell on negative emotions and experiences but to work though them.  She taught me that the negative should be analyzed and overcome but the positive should just be enjoyed.

It was in her honor and memory I gave the speech and in her honor and memory I share the experience.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I miss you.

Special Occasion Speeches: Mastering the Toast

Having just completed my first Advanced Communication Manual, Special Occasion Speeches, it’s time to begin my Special Occasion Speeches series of posts.

This series will follow the format of my Competent Communicator posts: I will describe the criteria for each project and then discuss the speech I delivered for the project.

I will admit, I chose this manual because the required time for the speeches is generally less than the standard 5-7 minutes for most other speeches.  Nevertheless, short does not equate to less challenging.

The first project in this manual is: Mastering the Toast.

The goal is to deliver a 2-3 minute toast (the same length as a speech evaluation).

My toast was for the occasion of our club’s End-of-Year Celebration.  I congratulated our club for having earned Select Distinguished Club status in only our second year.

I took the opportunity to thank our outgoing club officers for their good work in the past year and wished our new officers luck in the upcoming year while pledging my continued support .

It was a short speech but I feel that it caught the essence of a good toast: it was both congratulatory and encouraging.

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