Be a Successful Toastmaster
Your responsibility is to get the speakers off to the best start possible. You must be a genial host, weaving the speaker’s subjects together into a program to be remembered. Give thought to comments that will make a congruous whole out of the separate speeches.
Create an atmosphere of eager interest and anticipation in the program and the speakers you have prepared. The success or failure of this important portion of the meeting is in your hands.
The shortest way to spell responsibility is w-o-r-k. Plan the your program. Contact each speaker and evaluator well ahead of time. Urge them. Encourage them. Help them. It is your responsibility to see that the formal speech session is ready to go when the meeting begins. This will exercise your leadership skills. It’s easy to do things for yourself, but to get others to perform takes determination, hard work and drive. Don’t wait until the last minute to write down each of the speaker’s names and speech titles, or you are likely to flop.
Go to work as soon as you get your assignment. Find out each speaker’s and evaluator’s name: how to spell it and pronounce it correctly, perhaps the derivation of it as a point of interest. Then check into the general background of the speakers: where they came from, what their jobs are, an outstanding past experience, any point of interest that could be woven into an introduction. Next, find out what lesson in the speech manual the speaker is going to work on and the subject the speaker has chosen. Demand a title. If a title has not already been chosen, help the speaker choose a fitting one.
Armed with this information, you will be able to organize the order in which the speeches should be presented. Jot down a few appropriate thoughts to give the program continuity – perhaps a joke or two to spark things up. (Exercise caution here and try to introduce any joke you have as naturally and unsuspectingly as possible.) Now you are ready to confidently introduce the speakers and their speeches. Let the speakers and evaluators know the order in which they will speak.
Acknowledge the president’s introduction. Make a general comment or two to spark the members’ interest in the speeches to come.
With an alert, expectant tone of interest in your voice, smile warmly to the audience and speaker. Gesture toward the speaker as you give the title of the speech and the speaker’s name, clearly, distinctly and correctly. Focus all audience attention on the speaker. After the speaker acknowledges you, sit down quietly, with a minimum of motion and noise so as not to detract. Don’t do anything that would steal the spotlight from the speaker. If the speaker forgets to acknowledge you, just sit down quietly.
If the person has not given a speech to the club before, you will introduce the speaker, otherwise you present the speaker.
|Make the audience want to hear this speaker. Don’t steal the spotlight yourself.|
Be brief. If you have prepared, it will be easy. Ten to 30 seconds will usually be enough for the actual presentation – never over a minute.
Avoid stale, worn-out phrases. Don’t use, “It is indeed a pleasure…someone who needs no introduction … we are gathered here tonight….” Be different. Use variety. You can explain some interesting point of the person’s background that qualifies the speaker to speak on this particular subject.
Don’t embarrass or make fun of the speaker. Be complimentary in a sincere way, presenting the speaker in the best light possible without flowery exaggeration – but be brief. The trick is to make the audience want to hear this speech. Don’t forget to mention what speech lesson or goal the person is working toward.
When the speaker finishes, lead the applause and make a brief comment of appreciation. Don’t summarize the speech – just comment briefly to pick up the flow of the whole program.
Do not evaluate the speakers. Instead, quickly move into the brief introduction of the evaluator.
At the end of the program, thank the audience for their attention and return control of the meeting to the president.
Your big job as a speaker is to tell somebody something. Present your meaning clearly and exactly enough that the listener clearly understands the message you intended.
All language is symbolic. An audience does not hear meaning. They hear only symbols – words, phrases and sentences. These stand for the meaning that you had in mind. The listener must try to discern the point, message or information by the words you use.
When your audience misunderstands the meaning of the sounds you use – words, phrases and sentences – your message has not gotten through to them.
The task is not merely to get words out of your mouth – but ideas into the listeners’ minds.
Move From Idea to Idea
Let nothing divert your thought. Keep out extraneous material. Keep your story moving. Move on a straight line, the shortest distance between your mind and the listener’s mind.
When a speech moves in a straight line, each idea leads to the next idea. Each idea will be understood clearly. Preserve an expected sequence and relationship between ideas. Let the audience know how the ideas relate to one another. Otherwise, your audience will often be running in the wrong direction. They will have to back up again and try to catch on to your next thought. Exhausted and disappointed, they are likely to give up the effort. Straight-line follow-through (from idea to idea) is more effective than here-to-there-to-here-again wandering from the route laid out in the specific purpose statement you defined at the start of your speech.
Step Out Your Subject
Some speakers, when preparing their speeches, think deeply about a subject, then write down a conclusion. They research, study and think deeply – and then add another conclusion. Then, in their speech, they race from conclusion to conclusion and leave out the steps they went through to arrive at their conclusions. As a result, their audiences are lost.
Learn to lead your audience through the same steps you went through to get to your conclusions. Give them the facts as well as the conclusions you reached.
Know Your Subject
Speaking is thinking. Get your audience clearly in mind. Decide the main idea or ideas you want to leave in their minds. Know what would be good for the audience to know. Know all about your subject — think it through before you speak.
If you can’t be plain, you probably don’t know the subject well enough. People who really know a subject well can usually make it clear.
Approach the subject from the audience’s point of view. Begin with their level of thinking, with their level of understanding. Use simple, direct, expressive and effective language within the hearing-vocabulary range of the average listener. The purpose of words is not to show off your oratory, but to convey a message effectively.
Don’t say anything you don’t believe. Be sincere and filled with conviction. Be sure of what you are saying, and then say it with authority and conviction.
Know the needs of your audience. Be truthful, honest and an expert adviser to your audience.
Use the Familiar
Jesus used familiar terms to present unfamiliar ideas. He said: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved…. Whoever does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber” (John 10:9, 1). Christ took a spiritual principle – that no one can have salvation except through him, and he gave it tangible shape. He made the abstract concrete. He used the terms gate and sbeep pen. We understand what those things signify.
Use objects and situations within your audience’s experience and understanding. Make your ideas live. Put them in solid, earthy clothing.
When you speak, you are using tools – the building blocks of language – letters, words, phrases and sentences. Use them wisely, discreetly, correctly, clearly and with conviction.
Are you always wrestling with the problem of how to say something? Most of us have some trouble at times. Some ideas are difficult to put into words – to describe the aroma of coffee, for example – but often our problem is simply the lack of a precise and powerful vocabulary – words at our fingertips – to express the ideas that we have.
Building a vocabulary is not easy. But it is the only way to succeed in expressing yourself. There is a way to acquire a more effective vocabulary. It requires no money and is priceless. The only price is your application of five laws of vocabulary building.
The habit of building your vocabulary comes after a conscious desire to improve it. Squeeze every ounce of learning from the tons of waking time. Become an eternal question box. When you read, ask yourself, “What new word, what better expression can I learn now, that I can use later?”
Make vocabulary building fascinating, captivating and rewarding. Read about the history of words. Give words life and personality.
Expand your reading horizons. Subscribe to a newsmagazine. Peruse Reader’s Digest. Browse through a scientific magazine. Occasionally take time to read about such subjects as economics, world affairs, medicine, geology, carpentry, architecture, art, farming or ranching. This will depend on your interest and time.
As you read, cultivate the habit of spotting new words. Words you never knew existed will stand out like an elephant at a fashion show. Guess the meanings of new words based on their context in the book —and then look them up.
Strive to build a richer vocabulary, and your life will be enriched. Remember, you may have a million-dollar idea – but penny-powered words may not convince anyone.
Get the Dictionary Habit
Buy a good dictionary. Then whenever you come across a new word, look it up.
Follow this procedure in looking up a new word. Take the word “precocious” as an example:
Pre-co’cious (-shus), adj. [L. praecox, -ocis, fr. praecoquere to cook or ripen beforehand, fr. prae- + coquere to cook.] 1. Exceptionally early in development, esp. mentally; forward; chiefly of children. 2. Of, pert. to, or suggesting precocity. – pre-co’cious-ly, adv. – pre-co’cious-ness, pre-coc’i-ty (-kos’i-ti), n.
First, check the proper pronunciation (some online dictionaries will pronounce it out loud). Practice until it is sunshine clear. The part in parentheses (-shus) for pre-co (shus) gives the phonetic equivalent.
Second, this dictionary places the origin of the word in brackets: (prae + coquere = to cook before). Here you find prefixes, suffixes and roots.
Third, learn the definition of the word. Precocious means “having early mental development.”
Finally, use the new word in a sentence: “James, a precocious individual, learned to speak Hebrew at age 5.”
Use the Word
Practice your new words or you will lose them. After you take in these new words, you must give them out in conversation, writing and speaking. Force yourself to use the new words appropriately during the week and in club meetings.
Set a Goal for Yourself
Set a goal of learning new words.
Increase your verb vocabulary. Verbs are the powerhouses of language – they make your speech flow. Notice this change in verbs. Weak: The car went over the curb and came at him. Now with power-packed verbs: The car hurdled the curb and roared toward him. A powerful verb rockets your speech to life.
Acquire nouns and adjectives that are picturesque and colorful. Root out generalities such as: great, nice, fine and big. Demand a clear verbal photograph.
But remember: A huge, ponderous vocabulary is not what you want. Don’t build a vocabulary as an end in itself. Practice using common, easily understandable, but powerful and picturesque and effective words – words you can use and words that others will understand. You should understand a fancy word such as utilize, but in most speeches the simple word use is better.
Powerful and persuasive voices require precise pronunciation.
Learn to articulate properly. It is simple and interesting. Tongue twisters are excellent for sharpening enunciation. They make your lips, jaw and tongue exercise and help people understand what you are saying.
Practice these continually. Concentrate on your particular articulation problems.
Tongue Twisters for B, P, M and W
These consonants demand active lips. Say “Boom.” Explode that b. Bring those lips down hard, quickly and sharply for B, P, M. For the W, pucker the lips.
For B: A big black bug bit a big black bear, made a big black bear bleed.
For P: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where is the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
For M: Military malarkey makes monstrous madmen into maligned martyrs.
For W:If a woodchuck would chuck wood, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck would chuck wood?
Th (thing) and TH (that)
Touch the tip of the tongue to the rim of the upper teeth. The tongue tip should protrude ever so slightly.
For Th: Theophilus Thistle, the thistle sifter, sifted a sieve of unsifted thistles. If Theophilus the thistle sifter sifted a sieve of unsifted thistles, where is the sieve of sifted thistles Theophilus the thistle sifter sifted?
For TH: What dost thou think of those that go thither?
S, Z and WH
These sounds require coordination. To pronounce S you raise your tongue, groove it and arch it toward the hard palate. Force the breath through the narrow fissure between your teeth. The same for the Z – except it is vocalized.
For Sh and Zh the fissure is broader. For Wh purse the lips as you blow through the opening.
For S: The sixth sick sheik’s sheep’s sick.
Suzy Schell sells sea shells on the seashore.
For Z: Moses supposes his toes are roses, but Moses supposes amiss. For Moses knows his toes aren’t roses as Moses supposes.
For WH: What whim led Whitey White to whittle near a wharf where a whale might wheel and whirl?
T, D, N, L and R
A lazy tongue will get you in trouble with these twisters. The first four of these consonants are made alike. On the first two, your tongue should snap as a whip. The tip of your tongue should touch the hard palate just above the upper teeth.
On the R, the tongue arches itself along the roof of the mouth without touching it.
For T: Thomas Tattertoot took taut twine to tie ten twigs to two tall trees.
For D: Double-bubble gum bubbles double. Dud double-bubble gum doesn’t bubble double.
For N: A snifter of snuff is enough snuff for a sniff for the snuff-sniffer.
For L: Likable Lillian loves lovely luminous aluminum linoleum.
For R: Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran.
F and V
Both F and V are formed by pressing the upper teeth lightly on the lower inside lip. The word fife is an example.
F is unvocalized and the breath is merely allowed to escape. But V is vocalized.
For F: I never felt felt feel flat like that felt felt.
For V: Vern Verve is well versed in very wordy verb verse.
H, K, NG, SK and Q
H is simply made by breathing out through the mouth.
K requires the back of the tongue to touch the soft palate. The breath is then released sharply. G is the vocalized form of this sound.
When sounding NG (sing), arch the tongue, but force the voice through the nasal passage.
For H: Harry Hugh hid the heel behind the high hill. If Harry Hugh hid the heel behind the high hill, where is the heel Harry Hugh hid?
For K: Cass Cash can catch a check casher to cash his uncashed check.
For NG: The ringing, swinging, singing singers sang winning songs.
For SK: Ask an Alaskan skier to ski askew his skis.
For Q: Quigley Quagmire requested sequentially created quite quick quality crackers.