CC Speech 10: Inspire Your Audience

The tenth and final project in the Competent Communicator manual is: Inspire Your Audience.

The goal of this project, as the climax of the ten-speech journey toward becoming a Competent Communicator, is to use all of the skills practiced in the nine previous projects to provide an effective and inspirational presentation.

Some tips for this project are: to appeal to the audience’s needs and emotional reactions, use stories and anecdotes to make the message resonate with the audience and to avoid using notes to present an aura of confidence and reliability in the speech.

The title of my speech was: “Serving Your Club”.

I chose this topic for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it is a topic I feel deeply about and about which I have a breadth of knowledge.  Secondly, I presented the speech on the day we were accepting nominations for next year’s club officers.  My goal was to inspire our club members to step up to the challenge of club leadership.

This was only my third speech delivered completely without notes.  The first one was my speech about comic book superhero movies; the second was when I presented “Bugs!” for the second time for my club’s humorous speech contest.

Since I knew the topic so well and practiced enough to feel comfortable not using notes, I was freed up to move about and really connect with the audience.

I began the speech by discussing the accomplishments our club has achieved in two short year of existence and crediting that success to our members who took it upon themselves to serve our club.

Then I pointed out the many ways a member can serve the club and the ways serving the club can serve the individual member, from simple attendance and being part of an attentive and supportive audience at club meetings to serving as Club President.

I feel very good about how this speech went and even inspired myself to give more speeches without using notes.

This speech completed my Competent Communicator requirement, which also completed my Advanced Leader Bronze requirement.

This is the end of the Competent Communicator series of posts.  Be on the lookout for the new Advanced Communicator series, which I will begin once I start presenting my speeches for my ACB.


100th Post!

This is my 100th post on this blog.  From my first post to now, it’s been a lot of fun and a great outlet.

I started the blog posting updates about my Toastmasters club with occasional commentary about language in general.

Since then, I’ve added a bit more structure, running several series: The Competent Communicator Series, the Competent Leader Series, Word of the Week Wednesday, Table Topics Thursday and Song Lyric Spotlight.

Hopefully you’ve all had as much fun as I have.  And I hope you’ll stick around for the next hundred.

On a more “Toastmasters-related” note.  Our club held its elections today so I now know who my successor will be as I take it a little easier next year as Immediate Past President.

I was also presented with my certificates for Competent Communicator and Advanced Leader Bronze.

Thanks for reading and special thanks to those who leave comments.  I love them!

Educational Update

Today, as planned, I presented my 10th speech from the Competent Communicator Manual.  The purpose was: “Inspire Your Audience” and I will go into the speech details in a later post.

For my Advanced Communicator Bronze, I have chosen to pursue the Special Occasion Speeches and Humorously Speaking manuals.

The important thing is that this completes the manual and I am now officially a Competent Communicator!  This is the first of four goals in the Communication Track of the Toastmasters Educational Program.

As a result, I have also attained Advanced Leader Bronze, having completed each of the other requirements, which is the second of three goals in the Leadership Track!

Completing all goals on each track achieves Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest honor in Toastmasters.

As an additional benefit, this is the second Competent Communicator award earned in my club this year which earns us one more point in the Distinguished Club Program.

This gives us a total of seven DCP points, which makes us a Select Distinguished Club!  Our goal is President’s Distinguished and now we only need two more points.

Judging Contests, Moments of Truth and more…

My apologies for slacking off on my postings.  I really have no excuse.

As a result, and possibly on the bright side, I have a bunch of Toastmasters updates to share.

As I mentioned in an earlier post,  I served as a judge in our Club International Speech and Table Topics contest.  I also volunteered to judge at the Area 13 contest. While I at the Area Contest, our Division Governor asked if I would judge at the Division Contest as well.  The contest will be held on Saturday, April 9th at the Ella Fitzgerald Theater in Newport News (of course I said yes).  At the same time, he asked me if I would be interested in serving as Area Governor for Area 13 next year (July1 2011 – June 30 2012).  I immediately said I would be.  Serving as Area Governor is one more step towards achieving Distinguished Toastmaster.  I was both flattered and honored to be considered since I’ve been a Toastmaster for under two years.

The day after the Area Contest, our club had its second Area Governor visit of the year.  It went quite well, despite having low attendance, and our AG told us that she would recommend us to compete in the Club Meeting Contest, to be held after the Division Contest.  We’re going to need to make sure we have members who will commit to take part and fill the roles needed.  Before the meeting, the AG also asked me if I would be interested in being Area 13 Governor next year.  The decision for Area Governor is made at the District level, so it’s by no means a sure thing that I’ll be chosen, but I think my changes are probably good and I’m confident that I can do a good job at it.

I also just registered for the District 66 Spring Conference which will be held from April 29 through May 1.  It should be a lot more fun this year than when I went last year since I know a lot more Toastmasters in the District and several other members of my club will also be attending.

Lastly, this Wednesday I will finally be presenting the Moments of Truth program from the Successful Club Series.  After that, I’ll only need to do one more speech to complete my Competent Communicator and then I will have achieved my Advanced Leader Bronze award.  You’ll remember that I was originally scheduled to present this in late December of last year, but I was snowed in.  I waited until now because the program takes a full hour and I didn’t want to preempt an entire scheduled meeting.  This Wednesday is the first 5th Wednesday meeting since December.

Distinguished Club Program Status Update (March 18)

Our club has gained its sixth (out of a possible ten) point in the Distinguished Club Program!

We gained this point for having four of our officers attend mid-year officers’ training.

As mentioned in the last update, we’ve earned Distinguished Club status for having more than five points.

The different Distinguished statuses and the points needed to be earned within a Toastmasters year (July 1-June 30) are:

  • Distinguished Club: 5 or 6 points.
  • Select Distinguished Club: 7 or 8 points.
  • President’s Distinguished Club: 9 or 10 points.

At six points, we are one point away from Select Distinguished and three points away from President’s Distinguished.  Our goal this year is President’s Distinguished.

To recap, we earned our first five points for:

The remaining four points in the Distinguished Club Program are awarded for completing Communication goals:

  • One point for two members completing the Competent Communication manual
  • One point for two more members completing the Competent Communication manual
  • One point for one member earning an Advanced Communicator award
  • One point for an additional member earning an Advanced Communicator award

Road Map

Both our Secretary and I are nearing our tenth speech and are scheduled to complete our Competent Communicator by the end of next month.

Our two Competent Communicators from last year (our Vice-President Membership and Vice-President Public Relations) have all of their speeches scheduled to complete their Advanced Communicator Bronze by the end of June.

If either of our potential ACBs fall through, we have two members close enough to completing their Competent Communicator to still earn the point we need for President’s Distinguished.

CC Speech 9: Persuade with Power

Project 9 in the Competent Communicator manual is: Persuade with Power.

The purpose of this project is to practice delivering a persuasive speech; to use to speaking skills developed in previous projects to convince your audience to adopt a certain opinion or follow a course of action.

My ninth speech was entitled: Be Your Own Toastmaster.

My goal in this speech was to persuade our club members to take an active role in working their way through the Toastmasters Educational Program.

I touted the benefits of the program: how it could help develop speaking and leadership skills; reminding them that this was what many, if not all, of them had joined Toastmasters for in the first place.

My emphasis was that the extent to which these benefits would be attained was entirely up to their dedication as individuals.

I presented a course of action which included, learning the program, planning your path through it ahead of time and sticking to the plan.

In the end, my speech came across as more informative than persuasive and I undercut one of my calls to action by mentioning the lack of outside accountability inherent in a self-paced program.

On a positive note, however, my promotion of the benefits of the Educational Program was well received and the need for self-motivation was clearly understood.

Coming Up With Speech Topic Ideas

ToastmastersCompetent Communicator manual provides exceptional guidance to learn and practice how to talk about things.  Each project helps you work step-by-step building skills to become an engaging and powerful speaker.  There’s one thing, however, that is doesn’t provide:

What to talk about.

Being an issue that I’ve struggled with, I began looking into it only to find out that it’s a common problem among Toastmasters.

I’m going to share the topics I’ve used so far for my Competent Communicator speeches in the hopes that it will help inspire ideas for those fellow Toastmasters who might be reading this looking for help.

My topics were:

  • My life growing up
  • The Competent Leader manual and advice on working through it
  • Comic Book Movies
  • Enjoying the little things as a means to combat stress
  • My fear of bugs, with stories about how I’ve dealt with them
  • Speed Geeking
  • Department Store Santas
  • Taking control of your Toastmasters Educational experience
  • Ways to serve your Toastmasters club

If that doesn’t help, there was a great article on the topic in the January 2010 issue of Toastmaster Magazine.

You can also get the publication: They’re All Around Us from the Toastmasters Shop.

If all else fails, many Toastmasters’ blogs and club website will have helpful hints for finding ideas for speech topics.

I hope this helped and Good Luck!

UPDATE:  I can’t believe I forgot to mention: Selecting Your Topic from the Better Speaker Series.

CC Speech 8: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids

The eighth project in the Competent Communicator Manual is: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids.

The goal of this projects is to become proficient is the use of visual aids to enhance the impact of your speech.

Suggestions for visual aids include: props, flip charts and PowerPoint presentations.

The challenge is to design the visual aids in such a way that they add an extra dimension to the verbal presentation and not distract from it.

My speech was presented on December 22nd and was entitled: A Christmas Tale.  The speech was about the phenomenon of Department Store and Mall Santas.

I began the speech quoting from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“: You better watch out.  You better not cry. You better not pout.  I’m telling you why.  Santa Clause is coming to town.

Throughout the speech, my PowerPoint slides had pictures and summary text to support my points, all with a red and green Christmas motif.

I discussed the ubiquity of the department store Santa and the history of the phenomenon.  Then I detailed my history with the subject.  I mentioned my visit to Santa as a child and my turn working as a Mall Santa.

I then talked, from my experience, about how magical the visit to Santa can be for a small child but mentioned the potential for horror and trauma for the child if they’re too young or unprepared for the experience, warning parents that they “better watch out”.

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.

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.

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