Follow the guidelines of Toastmasters International for powerful tips.
I have been a toastmaster with Toastmasters International for more than 30 years. Over this period of time. I have honed my communication skills, thanks to Toastmasters International’s comprehensive program that has benefitted more than 364.000 members worldwide in more than 145 countries.
It takes time and active participation to see results. I have witnessed positive changes in myself as well as members whose personal lives, career and businesses have improved because of good communication skills. A champion speaker wins for the reason that they wrote and delivered a great speech.
We all have experienced speakers who would drone on and on with their speech, falling short of quantity and quality that was expected of them. Toastmasters’ Clubs is the place for everyone and anyone who is serious about improving speaking skills, listening skills as well as critical thinking.
This article focuses on the essence of a good speech. I shall divide it into a few categories; Delivery, Content, and Language. In Toastmasters’ International Speech Contest, the scoring is based on delivery 30%, Content 55%, and language 15%
OnDelivery (30% score in speech contest)
1 Physical aspect such as appearance count, as to whether the speaker was appropriately dressed for the occasion. Body language comprises body postures, hand gestures, facial expressions which should be congruent with the message.
A confident posture score points as it showed self-confidence and appropriate hand gestures allowed the emphasis of certain points made. Facial expressions also lend credibility to what was being said.
2 Voice plays a very important role in delivery. Was the speaker audible? Was his diction clear? Was it spoken in a monotone or were there inflections involved to make it interesting?
3 The manner in which the speech was made may make or break the presentation. A good speaker should come across as enthusiastic and energized unless it was a somber subject in which case he had to be congruent in his mannerism to convey sobriety.
A speaker needs to come across as sincere and self-assured if he wants to drive home his message.
About the Content (55% score in speech contest)
1 Speech Development has three parts — Structure, Organization, and Support material.
a) Structure refers to the framework of the speech in which there is an introduction (10%), body or content (80%), and conclusion (10%). In this way, there is a beginning, a story, and an ending, so to speak. This makes the speech easier to follow.
b) The Organization of the speech refers to the pattern in which the ideas are categorized. For example, a common organization pattern is topical or using topics to become the main points of the body.
Other patterns include chronological (which can be grouped into the past, present, and future) spatial (different locations), Compare and contrast, Causal ( cause and effect), Problem-cause-solutions (generally persuasive), and Biographical ( usually to describe a person’s life and generally informative or even entertaining).
c) The Support material refers to the evidence presented to give credibility to the main points. This either comes from statistics, studies, or research and may come in the form of quotes by eminent authors, poets, and artists. An evidence-based speech engages the audience for its authenticity.
2 Effectiveness of the Speech
An effective speech has a great impact on its listeners. It should grasp the audience’s attention and moved them to action. The speech should fulfill its objectives; whether it was informative, entertaining, inspiring, or persuasive.
If the audience applauded well, showed interest, and laughed where they were meant to, then it has succeeded in eliciting the audience’s response.
About the Language(15%)
In the Toastmasters International Speech Contest, the Language aspect scores only 15% but nevertheless, it is very important as it impresses the audience during your delivery.
1 Good Language use involves correct grammar, clear pronunciation, excellent choice of words, and appropriate to the speech purpose.
2 To score well, use simple, active sentences, and employ the use of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, euphemism, pun, compare and contrast, etc to make the speech more interesting.
3 Humor also scores well, especially in a Humorous Speech Contest.
An important fact is that the speaker should speak within the time allowed to show respect for the program that is usually tightly scheduled. It is also to prevent him or her from cutting into another speaker’s allotted time.
In a speech contest, a speaker who speaks outside or beyond the time given is automatically disqualified from voting by the audience in the top three winners.
People, young and old are advised to join Toastmasters International. The clubs are available in many countries and a well-run club has a history of champion speakers and good meeting attendance.
As many of the members are from different backgrounds ethnically, culturally, and education-wise, I have learned a lot from the interactions at the Toastmasters meetings. Persistent participation and presentation of projects eventually result in growth, not only for the speaker but for the audience.
Besides developing good communication skills which involve speaking, listening and critical thinking, toastmasters develop leadership training, networking, friendships, time management skills, ability to give motivating feedback to other speakers, improving grammar and vocabulary, writing good content, and are generally a highly positive group of people.
Go and join the Toastmasters Club or encourage someone who wants to brighten up their lives and prospects. It is a decision that no toastmaster has ever regretted.