Question #8: Why Should I Join Toastmasters?

Why Join ToastmastersHave you heard of Toastmasters? If not, the term may inspired images of gray haired men giving toasts with brass mugs. Far from it. If you want to improve your leadership skills and speaking skills, Toastmasters is an effective and inexpensive way to do it.

What is Toastmasters?

According to the official site

Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.

In the city of Wichita, KS there are 15 local clubs. Most meet weekly for an hour, though mine (Semi-Pro) meets twice a month. A typical meeting consists of:

  • Three 5-7 minute speeches
  • An evaluation of each of those speeches.
  • Several 1-2 minute “Off the Cuff” speeches.
  • Plus several other activities geared towards improving speaking skills.

Find a club and check it out for free.

Back to the original question.

Why Should I join Toastmasters?

  1. Crush your fear of public speaking and become more confident in front of an audience.
  2. Become a better speaker through the training and practice.
  3. Eradicate the distracting “Um’s” and “Uh’s” from your speech. Toastmasters has a simple, but powerful way of doing this.
  4. Become a better leader.
  5. Expand your network.
  6. Take your speaking skills to another level by entering in the spring and fall contests.
  7. Share your knowledge and mentor other speakers.
  8. Get $3,000 training for just a few dollars at the District Conferences.


Find out more about the 2010 Fall District Conference

You may be thinking, “I am an advanced speaker and speak quite a bit already. How will Toastmasters help me?”

Great question. Including the above benefits you’ll be able to:

  • Refine parts of your current speeches and practice sections in Toastmasters. (The Pro’s practice each section of their speech many times in front of different audiences.”
  • Refine your skills. There have been times I thought I was a really good speaker. Then I was blown away by the skills of other Toastmasters. This friendly competition pushes me to new levels.
  • Increase your circle of influence. 80-90% of speakers get booked because of someone who heard them. Do a great job and someone may approach you after the meeting and ask for your business card.

What if you are completely new to speaking? Toastmasters is a great environment for not just the advanced, but also the beginner. Every person in your club will be able to relate with any mistakes you make. It is the perfect environment for growing.

What does Toastmasters cost?

About twenty cents a day. Depending on the club, your yearly due will be about $60. That’s an inexpensive investment with a large return.

How to find out more about Toastmasters?

Find a local club and go visit (it’s free.) Check out Rob’s site for additional articles on Toastmasters.

(C) Arlen Busenitz – Speakinginfo.com

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Question #7: How do I Become a Better Speaker?

“How does a person become a better speaker?”

“Simple. Use the RWP formula.”

During my interview with professional speaker  John Madden, I posed the above question to him. His answer was simple, but yet profound.

RWP stands for:

Read

Watch

Practice

Read about Public Speaking

Public speaking is an art and a science. There are rules and principles that great speakers use to communicate with their audience.

I used to be continually moving around the stage without a purpose. Then I learned to always move with a purpose. Opening with a joke or two seemed to be a great speaking strategy. Now, I realize that usually it is not a good idea. Why? Most people are nervous when they start speaking. Funny and nervous go together like chocolate milk and lemonade.

Head down to your local library or bookstore and start soaking up public speaking content. Read public speaking blogs. Fill your mind with speaking tips and you will understand the principles of public speaking.

Watch

Who should you watch? Start with yourself. Record every single speech with a video camera. You can buy a Flip Phone for relatively cheap. Watching yourself is one of the best ways to quickly improve your public speaking skills.

Is it painful? Sure. You will automatically improve if you watch yourself and make adjustments.

Besides yourself, there is no substitute for watching a good motivational speaker or trainer deliver a keynote. With the age of YouTube you now have literally thousands of good speakers at your finger tips. Just a caution. Watch those who are really good so you pick up good habits.

Also, be aware that no speaker is complete in every area. In other words, one speaker may have compelling content, but a voice that borderlines on monotone.

Here is one video by Rory Vaden

Practice your Public Speaking Skills

When I started playing backyard football, I couldn’t catch a pass or throw a ball accurately. After many afternoons of practice, I was relatively decent. Constant practice trained my muscles and mind to throw an accurate ball and to catch a football.

In the same way we should train ourselves to have good delivery skills:

This will only come through practice

Take free speeches. Call up local clubs, and ask if you can give a 10 minute talk. Check with your local church about doing a short speech. Practice, Practice, Practice.

You can even stand in your living room and practice with a fake audience.

Practice John Madden’s advice with RWP and you will see a rapid improvement in your public speaking skills.

(C) Arlen Busenitz – Speakinginfo.com

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Question #6: How do I Prepare for Public Speaking?

Imagine you have to give a speech in 5 days. It could be a college class speech, business speech, or even a wedding speech. How do you prepare for this public speaking event? Here are four steps that will help you create an excellent speech.

Step #1: Choose your topic

I used to waste hours and hours thinking of a topic to speak on. Then I discovered a brain storming tip which has helped me choose speech topics.

Take two minutes and write out 10 topics you could talk about. For an example I could brainstorm these topics:

  • How to reach your goals
  • Lessons I learned from my first job
  • Three qualities every good leader has
  • How to overcome fear of public speaking
  • How to improve your public speaking skills fast
  • How to write a book in 90 days
  • Why a cruise is a great vacation
  • Funny moments in child raising
  • Overcome procrastination
  • Organization made easy

In two minutes I have a list of topics. After two minutes select the best three and analyze them.

Pick the best one. Don’t waste a lot of time choosing a topic. Find something you are interested in, know something about, and meet the expectations of the audience, meeting planner, or professor.

If you don’t like the best one, repeat the entire process. Within 10 minutes you’ll either have your topic or a nice number to choose from.

Step #2: Write out your speech or make a detailed outline

The first time I gave a thirty minute speech, I did not use notes. Worse, I had not even practiced it. I rambled. I was boring. I was very discouraged afterwords. None of that would have happened if I had used this step.

The process of putting your thoughts on paper can double the quality of your speech. If you don’t write it out word for word, make a detailed outline with points.

Step #3: Practice, Practice, Practice

You can reduce your nerves by up to 83% through good preparation. Now take your notes and practice out-loud. Practice while your walking around the house, showering, or during the advertisements of favorite TV show. (By the way TV stands for “time vacuum”)

There is no substitute for good practice!

Mentally practice in the theater of your mind.  This will help implant your speech into your mind.

Step #4: Deliver with power and confidence

Backed with solid preparation, you will be able to stand up and speak with power and confidence.  Make eye contact. Have enthusiasm. Smile. Your public speaking presentation will be great.

(C) Arlen Busenitz – Speakinginfo.com

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Have you suffered from a monotone voice? Would you like more vocal variety and a public speaking voice that sounds like music to the ears of the listeners?

In high school I was chosen to be a narrator for the spring concert. Confidently I stood on stage and delivered to several hundred people. My speech was clear and easy to listen to. However, it lacked vocal variety.

The music director told me I was emphasizing every single word. It is like having a sentence with EVERY WORD IN CAPS. Or as one of my speech mentors said, “It was like listening to a machine gun fire.”

Do you remember the old records and how sometimes they would get stuck on the same phrase and repeat over and over again. Many people get their voice stuck in one gear. They may be loud/fast, slow/soft or any combination. When it stays the same, it is monotone and can put an audience to sleep or make it difficult to concentrate.

How to Improve Your Vocal Variety

Patricia Fripp, an executive speaking coach, taught me the following public speaking technique.

Vocal Variety Technique: Only emphasize 2-3 words in a sentence.

Look at the following sentence:

To be successful you need to have goals and a plan to reach them.

To deliver with vocal variety you may say:

To be successful you need to have goals and a plan to reach them.

In high-school I delivered the line like this:

To be successful you need to have goals and a plan to reach them.

Every word was emphasized. You can improve your voice and vocal variety by following Patricia Fripp’s advice: emphasize 2-3 words a sentence. Do this and it will sound like music to your audience’s ears.

To emphasize a word, change how you say it. Even pause for a micro second beforehand. This subtle shift in your voice will cause the words to stand out. Record yourself before and after. You’ll notice the extra vocal variety and your audience will love you for it.

Practice for just a couple minutes a day, and you soon develop good vocal variety and avoid being monotone.

(C) Arlen Busenitz – Speakinginfo.com

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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I shrank in my chair and tried to hide. It felt like half the audience was staring at me. My job was to run the sound at a wedding.

Simple job–except the soloist did not know how to use a microphone. He treated it like it had a contagious disease and stood about three feet away! This standard sub par microphone was picking up nothing.

As the sound man, I had the microphone volume turned all the way up to catch any waves of sound. During the chorus, the soloist decided the mike was cured of it’s contagious disease. His face and voice came within inches of the mic. A sharp, high pitched shriek blasted out the loudspeakers.

Everyone was instantly on high alert and looking around for someone to blame.

I wanted to hold up a sign which said, “It was his fault–not mine!”

Too many people fail to properly use a mic. The result? Their excellent speeches are either barely heard or other sounds distract the audience. Here are several good microphone tips:

Microphone Tip #1: Test right before the event

One time I spoke at an event where the microphone was working 20 minutes before it started. Sometime between sound check and speech kickoff, the sound system was shut off. To make matters worse, there was no sound person in sight!

What did I do? I spoke a little louder for a few minutes, until the sound person returned. Now, I like to check the microphone 20 minutes before a presentation and again right before the presentation.

Get on the same page with the sound person and run through a live check for volume, etc. This is especially important with hand held microphones. You need to know how far to hold them from your mouth.

Microphone Tip #2: Stand close to the microphone

Have you noticed how most people have microphone phobia? They stand too far back or don’t speak directly into it. Do you do this?

Many microphones have limited pick up distance. You almost have to eat the microphone. Have you heard the squealing feedback that sometimes comes across a sound system? That actually means you are too far away from the microphone. Move closer so the sound guy can turn down the microphone and reduce the feedback.

Microphone Tip #3: Turn it on and off

I love lapel mikes. They free up my hands and give me freedom of movement. However, they have two drawbacks:

First, we have to remember to turn them on.

Second, it can make for some interesting and embarrassing moments if we forget to turn them off.

At college their was a professor who forget to shut off the lapel mic when he went to take a restroom break. Imagine his surprise when he walked back in the room and wondered why everyone was snickering and trying to act normal!

The microphone is a speakers best friend. It helps save our voice and helps the audience listen to our message. Apply these public speaking microphone tips and your message will be heard.

(C) Arlen Busenitz. All Rights Reserved – Speakinginfo.com

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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I used to waste a lot of time preparing my speeches because I went about it the wrong way. When you are preparing a speech, what is your first step? Do you brainstorm a topic, make an outline, or research?

That’s what I used to do. Then I learned from the World Champions of Public Speaking (Craig Valentine & Darren Lacroix) that I should apply this speech writing tip.

Speech Preparation Tip: Find your Chris & Jesse and write the speech to them.

Recently I spoke  to about 50 energetic Jr. highers. Before I even chose the topic, I selected Chris and Jesse. These were two individuals that would represent the audience. Sometimes you may focus on two real people you know who will be in the audience. Other times you’ll do some research to get a good idea on who they are.

Why two? Two will help you get a good representation of the entire audience. To help you get to know these two individuals, ask these questions. If I don’t know the answers, I will contact the meeting planner or do research.

  • What are their ages?
  • What is the level of education?
  • What are their careers?
  • What problems do Chris & Jesse have?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are their aspirations
  • What will help Chris and Jesse?

Once you have a good picture of  your Chris and Jesse, prepare your speech for them. I will mentally visualize them sitting across the table from me in my office. I write my speech to them. Every story, illustration, fact, etc must relate to Chris and Jesse!

Is this powerful?

I shared this technique with a friend of mine who teaches at the college level and is asked to speak internationally. He said, “Arlen, the first time I tried it, the results were amazing. I really felt like I connected and received great feedback.”

By focusing on one person it allows you to give a specific speech tailored for that audience. The result? Great interaction and a keynote that hits home.

Here are some final wrap up notes.

  • Select two people who represent the audience.
  • Ask yourself, “What would I say if it was just Chris and Jesse in the room?”
  • Tailor the speech so it is focused, but yet remember the diversity of people in the room.
  • Prepare for one, but appeal to all.

Before you head to Google for research or brainstorm a topic, find your Chris and Jesse. You’ll speed up the process and create powerful speeches that connect.

(C) Arlen Busenitz Speakinginfo.com

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Storytelling ability separates the pro speakers from the amateurs. A good story told in a gripping way will hold attention, connect with the audience, and make the point stick.

But how do we tell interesting stories when speaking? A simple way to improve your storytelling is to make sure each story has suspense.

Suspense means the audience feels a strong desire to hear the outcome of the story. Do this and you will become a gripping story teller. Consider this example

At 11:30 on a cold February night, my wife and I were sound asleep. Suddenly, I was jolted awake by a crash in the next room.

Are you curious what happens next? Do you feel the suspense?

When telling a story, you and I want the audience to feel suspense almost immediately. Next, we seek to build that until it is revolved by the climax of the story. Suspense keeps the audience interested in the story.

Tension Building Tips to Start your Story

– Launch right into the story.

– Start with a suspenseful question. “Have you ever been so scared you were ready to call 911 or pickup a baseball bat?

– Give a tease line right way. “I was scared. At 11:30…

Once the suspense is started, you want to follow Craig Valentine’s advice and stir up the conflict and increase the suspense/tension.

Thoughts flashed through my mind. Is it an intruder? No one else should be here. Should I call 911? Where is my self defense weapon? Should we exit through the window?

This all builds suspense.

Use Pauses to Build the Suspense in your Stories

As you tell the story, use well placed pauses. Pausing will increase anticipation and suspense.

Suspense is very important, but so is the resolution.

Resolution relieves the tension and completes the story. If you don’t its like being at a movie theater and the owner kicks everyone out 20 minutes before it is over.

Suddenly I realized what likely caused the crash. I grabbed the baseball bat and inched out of the bedroom on a reconnaissance mission. In the dim light, I saw the shadow of the intruder. Mixie, the new cat….

See how powerful suspense is? Put it in your stories and you will tell interesting stories.

(C) Arlen Busenitz – Speaking Info.com

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Best Way to Handle Questions and Answers

My friend Rex, a pro speaker, said, Make them laugh, make them cry, leave them on a high.

Unfortunately, many speakers will instead:

Make them laugh, make them cry, leave them with a question/answer session.

What is wrong with this?

  • First, The last part of your presentation stands out to the audience. An off topic question may stick out and not your main point.
  • Second, your presentation ends on a low note. Question and answers sessions tend to be low energy, not high energy.
  • Third, people may be less likely to buy your products. They may be all pumped up by your closing, but after 15 minutes of questions and answers they are ready to leave.

What's the solution?

Best way handle Q & A in Your Presentation

Let's say I am giving a 45 minute talk with questions and answers. I may structure it this way.

30 Minutes Speech – 90% of speech

10 Minutes Q&A

5 Minutes – Final 10% of speech

The final 5 minutes will leave them on a high and they will walk out with my points fresh on their minds.

During that final 10% I will review and then tell a story or two to drive home the main point. Another tactic is to create anticipation for a story or idea in the first 30, and then resolve it in the final 5 minutes.

However you structure your presentation, remember Rex's advice and Make them Laugh, Make them Cry, and Leave them on a High.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Would you like to improve your conversation skills fast? My latest book is hot off the press. You'll learn 5 principles that will enable you to improve your conversation skills fast.

 

Conversation Magic

Improve Your Conversation Skills in One Evening

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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A beginning

speaker with 5 speeches under their belt can out speak a trained professional speaker with years of experience and hundreds of audiences, if the inexperienced speaker is applying this next speaking tip.

Speech Preparation Tip #28: Practice, Practice, Practice

Experience and training are essential for public speaking. Experience helps ingrain good speaking habits that will come out in any presentation. However, an amature who gives a well rehearsed speech can give a better presentation than a professional who has not practiced.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

More Posts - Website

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