Posts Tagged ‘Toastmasters’

Fake It ‘Till You Feel It

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 | Public Speaking

This is my speech for the 2017 humorous speaking contest at Toastmasters.

The Lens of Life

Sunday, October 1st, 2017 | Public Speaking

This is a speech I have at Leeds City Toastmasters last month, advocating that we use our camera phones a little bit less and live a little bit more.

The Worst-Case Scenario

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 | Public Speaking

My speech for the 2017 international speech contest was entitled “The Worst-Case Scenario” and told the story of how things going wrong can so often produce our greatest achievements.

Club contest

I managed to see off some tough competition in the form of Simon and Paul at the club level. People say that the club level is often the most difficult to win. This is often attributed to questionable quality judging, but I think it has more to do with the amazing speakers we have at Leeds City.

Area contest

For the Area 15 final, I decided I had to sort my outfit out. If I was going to speak about running, I needed to be a runner.

As it turned out, the evaluation contest was taking place before the speech contest. So I quickly had to change back into my civvies and then get changed again.

Division contest

At the Division E final in Birmingham, the story ends. I didn’t even place. I’m a pretty bitter loser. It’s frustrating because the only feedback people ever offer is “I loved your speech”.

It robs Toastmasters of it’s most important ingredient: the feedback that allows you to grow. And it also makes you question whether there is much objectivity to what we are doing.

Or maybe it conforms to Robert Pirsig’s definition of quality and is simply incredible. We know a great speech when we see one but we can’t say why. The magic eludes me, but it doesn’t seem to based on sound fundamentals.

Still, that’s the talk of a loser. Onwards and upwards.

And, on the plus side, it did make a nice road trip for Venla.

Warehouse of Gifts

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 | Public Speaking, Video

Two days after I delivered Speak from the Heart at Leeds City, I delivered a speech called “Warehouse of Gifts” at Asselby Speakers. It was another speech I had written to try and develop my personal stories and improve the emotion in my speeches.

I did not go there with high hopes. The speech was rough, the idea was clich├ęd, and I was doing the whole thing in a Finland hockey jersey. However, it actually went a lot better than the other one did. People liked it.

Asselby Speakers is a great place to take a speech. It is an advanced club, only open to Competent Communicators. The result is that you get unparalleled feedback. Speeches that regular clubs fail to give any suggestions, Asselby will give you an A4 page full, which is what you want at this level.

Speak from the Heart

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 | Public Speaking, Video

Recently, I’ve been working on including more personal stories and emotion in my speeches. Some have gone better than others. This speech, for example, was a failure. Sort of.

Feedback was very positive. One of our members stopped me in the bathroom to tell me that he had never written a feedback slip before, but had tonight, because my speech was “perfect”. In fact, all the feedback slips were positive, which is frustrating because you can’t improve when nobody call tell you what was wrong. This was extra frustrating, because I failed to win best speaker.

Looking back at the video though, I can see why it wasn’t a winner. It doesn’t have the emotion in that I wanted it to have. I just didn’t express it. In fact, I think my trademark humour, as everyone refers to it, probably detracted from the speech because it took the edge off the emotion, and maybe I shouldn’t have done that.

Advanced Communicator Silver

Saturday, March 5th, 2016 | Public Speaking

advanced-communicator-silver

My recent speech “Morality Explained” was the final project I needed to complete in order to achieve my Advanced Communicator Silver award.

Morality Explained

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 | Public Speaking, Video

My Toastmasters speech for Speaking to Inform project #5 “The Abstract Concept”. In this talk I discuss how morality and altruism can work within the context of natural selection.

The Man Who Won The War

Sunday, December 27th, 2015 | Public Speaking

This is my Toastmasters speech for Project #5 of the Storytellig manual ‘Bringing History To Life’. I told the story of Alan Turing.

Hell in High Heels

Thursday, November 12th, 2015 | Public Speaking, Video

This is my speech from the recent Toastmasters 2015 humorous speech contest. I recorded it both at club level and area level, both of which I ended up winning.

If you want to watch one, I recommend the bottom one as the Area one is probably a little more polished. For the Toastmasters geek among you, I will go into detail about both.

Above is the club contest. My first contest in two years having taken a year out to be Area Governor. I was a bit nervous beforehand but felt fine once I got up there.

I did not mean to actually cause so a racquet when I kicked the shoes off, but I when it got such big laughs I would I would roll with it. Then on to the area contest…

Here I had taken out a lot of the history of the heel. This was originally the point of the speech, but it was a bit try for a humorous contest, so I replace it with some material about the number of pairs of shoes we often end up with.

I also kept the accidental ending in (though this time on purpose). At Division level I toned this down as I almost hit an audience member at Area! So I carefully removed the shoes and then pretended to slam them to the ground.

I did not record Divsion, but it was essentially the same as Area. a made a few subtle changes. For example I took out “as all women know, the first step is to buy loads of shoes” because I felt this was a bit sexist. I replaced it with “I studied my wife carefully and worked out the first step was to buy loads of shoes” as this makes the same identifiable joke without offending anyone (except perhaps Elina, who I cleared it with in advance!).

You might notice I am wearing the same outfit in both videos. That is not a coincidence. One of the feedback points I got from my advanced club was that I needed to show off my legs – so a well-fitted t-shirt and skinny jeans it was! They’re horrible, I don’t know how the young people put up with them.

Speaking of advanced clubs, taking the speech to Asselby Speakers was the best preparation I did. None of this being nice nonsense you get at regular clubs, they just gave me proper feedback. I came away with a one and half sides of A4 and it turned an okay speech into a multi-contest winning speech.

Toastmasters Area 15 2015 humorous speech contest

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 | Public Speaking

area-15-trophy

It’s good to have the trophy back on my shelf. Having won the club contest last month I was feeling more confident and managed to put in a sold performance at Area, enough to get me through to Division anyway.

The standard of the competition was very high. I had forgotten how tough Area 15 can be, having so many talented speakers in it. It is a shame that we can only send one contestant through to Division.