Apply these tips to increase your chance of winning at your Speech Contest.
Today, I have the good fortune to be invited to listen to a World Champion Speaker on the webinar, a 1 1/2 hour workshop, titled “Master Your Speech” organized by Toastmasters District 80.
Lance Miller is living the dream life. He holds eminent positions in the Corporate world, building and managing sales and marketing programs in the industries of law, construction, international finance, alternative health, and the internet and he has guided his audiences through business communication, world-class communication service, successful team building and more….
Lance is a very adventurous sportsman. From his enviable experiences, he has gleaned life lessons to share with his audience and spoke at hundreds of civic forums centered around fundamental human rights.
He holds the highest distinction of Distinguished Toastmaster with Toastmasters International and has delivered thousands of speeches in many different countries. He also coaches innumerable people inside and outside Toastmasters in Communication Skills.
It was a speech full of gems for the speaker who wants to excel in public speaking. I jotted those recommendations furiously and have summarized to the best of my ability. I held on to his every word.
The salient points of a masterful speech that I have gleaned and interpreted are as follows;
1 Be Authentic — Embrace your message, your principles about life, and your beliefs. When you discover yourself and believe in what you want to say, you will come across as sincere. Don’t say what the audience wants to hear.
When you are authentic, there is certain life energy that reflects conviction, passion, sincerity, and humility. The audience will be arrested by the speaker’s content and delivery.
When you are authentic, you will be more comfortable with yourself and appear relaxed and natural and not rehearsed.
2 Search for your defining moments — -Base your story on your experiences that have made indelible impressions on you. What you want to tell your listeners is about how listening to your experiences, can translate into an improvement in their lives. How they could use the same message to overcome their unique seemingly insurmountable problems.
Lance made a very important point in that even in an informative speech, you should also have an inspiring element to make it very valuable.
3 Delivery points to note — –
a) Lance emphasized that speaking is not acting. Remember to speak to the audience and never lose them. He has observed some speakers acting out the conversation with an imaginary person, thereby in his words, “dropping the fourth wall and playing off the latter”. The speaker could still respond to the imaginary person while speaking and looking at the audience.
b) Have an attitude of sharing. Do not act like an authority telling or yelling what the audience must do as there may be a higher authority in the audience. In any case, such a manner will put off the audience as we do not know what specific problems they may have. In an indirect and unimposing manner, the audience could relate better to a subtle message and apply the speaker’s suggestions.
c) Don’t ask questions that the audience cannot answer. Some speakers, Lance has observed asked questions in the middle of a presentation then continued speaking. I feel that this is disruptive to their listening and unnecessary. He recommended asking the audience for a show of hands to a question and that at least would elicit some response than just asking a question then not waiting for any reply.
d) Speak from the heart to get closer to their hearts. Do not act bigger than yourself, acting grand and dynamic or your message may come across as forceful. The audience is the final judge of whether you are a true sensational speaker.
Our distinguished speaker went on to share his sequence for preparing an inspiring story that is required for International Competitions.
- Setting up your story.
Act 1 — In your opening, be specific. You may create the mystery but never the confusion. This is by answering the where, when, what, who, and the conflict. This creates a very clear vista in the listeners’ minds and prepares them for the story that is to follow. It is a clear road map that engages them.
An important piece of advice from Lance — Do not put your message in the beginning. It should be a surprise.
Act 2 —You narrate your story and your struggles to resolve the conflict succinctly mentioning all the obstacles so as to make the content stick.
Act 3 — Describe how a hero resolves your conflict. The hero should always be something else but not yourself — it could be an object, a thought, or another person.
Lance related a poignant story of a person who had problems with his family and while driving along a bridge, he was inspired by the bridge anchored to the bedrock that could withstand the turbulence of the Ocean. Then he realized that his family was anchored in love that could withstand whatever turbulence they were currently facing. He called home to make peace and the bridge became the hero in that story.
2 Make that point which is the resolution of the story using 3 b) above.
3 Share how the audience may apply — -Call to action indirectly so that the audience can decide for themselves if they want to apply it.
Other gems from Lance Miller
1 Don’t just quote wholesale from a famous person. Describe how that quote affected you and you make a better connection.
2 If you are using a prop, make sure it can be removed when not needed otherwise it is a distraction.
3 Practise your speech as you give it because you will give it as you practiced it. This is a golden rule to me as I often practice in my head and it never turned out the way I wanted as I would need to speak out loud in the real situation.
Don’t stop even when making a mistake but go through it. This will be for the real situation. Practice your speech many times, knowing it, not memorizing it.
Lance Miller emphasized persistence and passion as Heimportant ingredients for success. He credited Toastmasters as a good and safe place to develop communication skills to be put into practice in the real world.
It was a very fruitful Sunday morning listening to Lance Miller. As our club’s International Contest draws near, many members including myself are drawing on these tips that Lance has shared with a big Thank You!
For people who are interested in giving speeches and presentations and crafting a master speech, the above tips are invaluable.