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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

In my last chatter, I mentioned the level of disappointment I was with my videotaped speech.  It seems that most people do not like to listen to themselves, or even worse, watch themselves on video--unless you happen to be tall, handsome, and speak with a sexy French accent.  Personally, I would rather eat carpet fuzz than watch myself speak.  I looked and sounded funny.  I would like to blame it on the poor lighting and acoustics of the room, but deep down, I realize that the problem lies within me. 


Arrgh! I've seen my own video!
Sunday, 18 January 2009

I was preparing to convert the video of my son's Christmas performance from the DV.  I remembered watching it on the DV last time, so I figured I haven't lost the spot.  Just press "Play", and then rewind it a bit.  The oddest image came on the screen.  It was me, making a speech.  I don't remember ever video-taping my rehearsals.  Hold on...in the video, I was speaking in the CCTM meeting room--This wasn't a rehearsal.  Then it dawned on me.  I had recorded my Speech #2 back in July.  It was supposed to be a video-taped advice to my son (now 4.5 years old) when he becomes a teenager.  Like a time capsule, or message in a bottle.  Just in case something happens to me before he comes of age. 

A thought from Jan 15 meeting
Thursday, 15 January 2009

Keeping it simple

Today's Toastmasters was Charlie.  In his opening speech about Being Optimistic, he did something that caught my ears. There was the section where he talked about how we are healthy, at least we're not earthquake victims; we have some wealth, at least we're not on the street.  Well, something along those lines.  Charlie used very simple words, and in a simple but repeating structure that is captivating to the audience.  'We are A, at least we're not B', while A and B are contrasting ideas.  Like a catchy tune, this type of verbal pattern is key to helping the audience remember.  I felt that Charlie could spend even more time fleshing out this section. 

Improving your game
Tuesday, 13 January 2009

At Toastmasters, some people make more progress than others.  Improvement is a function of three variables:  I = E + R + P.  E = Evaluation, R = Reflection, and P = Practice.   I can get good Evaluation, and read all about 'Owning the Stage' and watch the DVDs from Darren, but if I don't practice what I learned, I would be stuck at the same level.   I've seen some speakers stuck at the same gear for a while, not able to breakthrough.  I think one of the major obstacles for beginner speakers, is that there are so many things they are told (by evaluators or by themselves) to improve, and they try to do everthing at once.  Or don't know where to start at all.

Ice Breaker - not just an ice breaker
Sunday, 11 January 2009

Meeting: Jan 8th.

Snow did a really good job in delivering her first speech about her educational experience.  She spoke with poise and controlled her nerves really well.  While Snow described multiple facets of her UK experience, what really caught my ears was the part about working on a team project wiith classmates who came from other countries.  As part of the audience, I felt the eagerness to hear about the details.  In fact, I was expecting detailed story-line of "protagonist facing conflict, resolving it, and learning something from it".   Unfortunately this part of story was not richly developed. 

 As a speech, the Ice Breaker just like any other.  And I believe that the reason this is set up as the first speech of the manual, is to allow the speaker to focus on one but very important aspect of speech-delivery:  Engaging the audience with a focused message.  In this case, the message is 'how to let the audience know something special about the speaker'.   In my opinion, in 4-6 minutes, it is impossible to tell a compelling life story.   Imagine, if you were at a party, and you're introducing yourself, what would you usually say to make an impression?  Saying too little of many things, and the words do not stick in the audience's mind.  It is almost always better to focus on one story, one theme, and fully develop it.  Consider emphasizing the message by saying it differently, casting it  in another light.  You know all of your own life experiences and story to make yourself look colorful. 

But this is not limited to just the Ice Breaker speech.  Experienced speakers still can fall into this trap with other topics.  In seven minutes (or 10 minutes for theinspirational speech) the speech could have a simple form:  Intro of the theme, a body which has three points, and a conclusion.   However, often, the theme is too broad, and the audience may only remember one of the points, especially with the ever-shortening attention span.   Perhaps you can look at each of the three points as sub-themes, and can constitute a distinct speech.  For example, one of the speech I heard at the meeting was in regards to How to Plan a Perfect Vacation (the theme). The three points of the body, as far as I can recall, are 1. planning the transportation, 2. planning the hotel stay, and 3. I forgot...See what I mean by short attention span?   A more focused theme could be:  "How to plan your transportation for vacation".  There is enough information to develop this theme for the duration of 7 minutes. An even tighter focus would be a speech "How to save money on your vacation transportation" .


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