In this post I wanted to share the speech which I delivered at the Toastmasters International speech contest of this Spring 2018 at my club (Airbus Speakers, in Toulouse) and at the area level (comprised by 4 clubs in the region of Toulouse).
The last time I competed in such contests was in 2012 (see here a post about that speech) and for this year of 2018 I put myself as a personal objective to take part in a contest again, in order to work deeper in a speech: drafting it, editing it, reviewing it with friends, rehearsing it… it is a good exercise. Most Toastmasters’ members do not like much to compete, but I believe it is a good learning experience as I explained in this other post.
See below how the latest speech script was left after different iterations of corrections and annotations:
The message of the speech: share your passion with your children and take time to enjoy it together with them, a kind of carpe diem. With that in mind, I included in the speech most of the ingredients that make a speech as complete and varied as possible, i.e, body language, use of space, eye contact, voice variation, use of props, personal experience, quotations, etc. That is why I wanted to prepare exhaustively a speech as an exercise. See below the criteria used by the judges to evaluate a speech in order identify the ingredients.
Toastmasters’ International Speech Contest judge’s ballot.
I wanted to thank Nacho, Jaime and Luca for helping me with the preparation of the speech.
And, finally, see below the video of the speech as recorded at the area level:
Over a year ago, I wrote a post about a speech I gave at the then prospective Toastmasters club that some colleagues were pushing to set up within Airbus in Toulouse. Yesterday, we had the 48th session of the club. And yesterday, the club president (Sarah) announced that the club, Airbus Speakers Toulouse, is now a chartered club (1). For this achievement, I wanted to congratulate our colleague Eduardo, who a few months ago left Toulouse for Seville:
Coincidentally, yesterday I was giving a speech at the club. It was the second project of the advanced manual “Speeches by Management” (2), that is “The Technical Speech”. I had to convert a technical paper into a speech, use a technique called “inverted-pyramid” and effectively read out the speech. This was a challenge in the sense that, since long time ago, I don’t use notes for the speeches I prepare. I don’t like it. And this time, I didn’t need them either. But as part of the exercise I forced myself to use them, in order to practice for a situation in which I might need them. That is Toastmasters: practice, practice, practice. (3)
In order to read out the speech, the manual gave tips on how to write the speech in paper: large fonts, short sentences, bottom of each page blank, etc., very useful tips. See below how for a 10-minute speech, about 1,000 words (4), it took 7 pages, instead of about 2 that it would have normally taken (find here the speech) [PDF, 623 KB].
Above you can see how I made some grammar corrections, how I deleted some sentences which did not sound well, how I annotated some instructions (e.g. to distribute copies of the paper), how I emphasized some words and… how I introduced some last-minute adaptations. In Toastmasters’ meetings we normally have a word of the day which speakers should strive to introduce in their speech. Yesterday’s one was split. You can see how upon discovering it at the beginning of the meeting, I scanned my speech and located the 3 places in which I would insert it (which I did in the delivery). 🙂
In our club, we not only have a word of the day but we have a theme of the day, picked by the Toastmaster of the day (5). Yesterday’s theme was Hollywood. You can see how, as soon as I learned about the theme, I decided to make reference of a movie which featured Chuck Yeager (6) as I was quoting a couple of sentences from him. Funny enough, I had learned about that movie thanks to my brother Jaime just a couple of days before.
The speech talks about safety in general aviation, putting the emphasis on precautionary landings when the situation deteriorates. The idea of the speech comes from a safety note published by my flying instructor, Thierry, some time ago in the internal bulletin of the aeroclub. He referred then, and I do so in my speech, to a couple of studies from the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), principally one called “Objective: Destination” [PDF, 318 KB].
Finally, see below the video of the speech.
The recording starts about 30″ after the speech started and the quality is not very good. A good part of the image is taken by the table in which the camera rests and the light is not optimal. The sound is not great either, as neither is my vocalisation. In fact, that was one of the criticisms that I got, as part of a generally good feedback (7): I should vocalise more clearly. Nevertheless, I must say that I enjoyed delivering it.
(1) That is in Toastmasters language that we are an official club within the organization.
(2) From the version of 2009, as I have later learned that manual contents and organization have changed since then.
(3) By the way, for this speech: I had it written 4 days ahead of the meeting. I rehearsed it 8 times. Seven of them having Luca as an attentive mentor.
(4) At my speaking pace.
(5) The master of ceremonies in Toastmasters language.
(6) A NASA flight test pilot.
(7) Feel free to comment and provide feedback below :-).
In May 2011 Luca and I attended the annual shareholders’ meeting of Berkshire Hathaway (see here a post describing the experience). One of the activities for shareholders that we joined was to dine on Sunday evening at Piccolo’s, a steakhouse popularized by the taste of Warren Buffett, apparently a frequent customer (we indeed happen to have him dining together with Bill Gates two tables away).
The anecdote I wanted to share in this post stems from my rather strong Spanish accent when speaking English, together with the little vocalization effort that I put sometimes in my speech plus the use of thephonetic alphabet to spell words.
When I wanted to book a table at Piccolo’s to have that dinner, I was asked my surname, which is uncommon even in Spain, thus I spelled it: India, Romeo, Alfa, Sierra… Hours later, we arrived at the restaurant and informed the waiter that we had a reservation, at the name “Irastorza”. She went to check her registry. Swiftly and politely she said: “sure, come along with me”. I was close enough to her to see that in the book she had just noted: “India”.
Thanks to the drive of some individuals (Sarah, Eduardo, Dominique) a new Toastmasters corporate club (1) is being created within Airbus in Toulouse, where I work.
I joined Toastmasters in 2007 when I lived in Madrid and I have written often about Toastmasters in this blog, however I had become inactive in the last couple of years. This new initiative is very convenient and thanks to it I am engaging myself again in the association.
The topic of the speech is known for the reader of this blog: impact of delays in aircraft development projects seen as investment projects, the time value of money, discounting cash flows, break even, etc.
The feedback that I got: It was well received, especially the introduction, the interaction with the audience, the structure and how the topic was introduced and the main points called back in the end. However, I lost some individuals with the last slide, which needed some more explanation. I should have simplified the graphic. Some demanded more pauses and better vocalization.
(1) Up to now it is a prospect Toastmasters club.
(2) Project #1 of the “Speeches by Management” advanced manual: “The briefing”.
I subscribed to the Humorous Speech competition of my Toastmasters club in Toulouse, Rosemasters, before the summer break. The contest was held last Saturday. I had competed in the previous round of contests of the club back in March, when I was lucky enough to win the speech contest. You may see the speech in this post.
I say “lucky” because, even if the message of the speech might have been valuable, and the delivery was OK, I did not prepare then as I should have. I procrastinated. I wrote the speech the week of the contest, read it some times along the week, but only practiced the morning of the contest. However, my procrastination was not punished…
For the speech contest of last Saturday I procrastinated a bit more. I thought about the topic during the week of the contest: self-deprecation about my integration in France, OK. But only got to write the speech the morning of the contest. I enjoyed the delivery of the speech, but I guess it was not as good as it should have been. What is worse, even if nobody but Luca and me noticed, I forgot a whole minute of speech with a couple of good lines… this is what happens when you don’t prepare. I came in last of the 3 contestants in terms of judges’ evaluation. Deservedly. Hopefully I will learn the lesson for the next time.
The winner, Dominique, on the other hand made a wonderful speech using an ukulele, which he had purchased for the speech about a month ago, learnt to play few notes to accompany the speech, thought of tens of uses for the ukulele within a speech, put up a great structure, used lots of body language, storytelling… I loved his speech. Congratulations to Dominique!
Pierre de Coubertin said “The most important thing is not to win but to take part!”. After two years serving as Area Governor in Toastmasters, last weekend speech contest at Toulouse Rosemasters was the first time in which I could take part in speech contests again. I didn’t leave this opportunity.
Some people do not see what is in the competition for them. They tend to see it as very much American. Or they may think there is someone who is a better speaker, thus, no purpose in battling in the competition. Others may be afraid not only of public speaking but even more if there is a competition around.
I may understand those points, nevertheless I still think Toastmasters’ members should give it a try. There is always something to learn from that experience. My speech in the contest was a try to explain that.
About 2 weeks ago I gave a speech at Rosemasters club about the performance of clubs and its relation with the amount of members they have. My assignment was to give a 5-7 minute fact-finding report and then handle a 2-3 minute Q&A period. You may find the video and the script of the speech below.
In this post I just wanted to share a couple of graphics I produced while preparing the speech (one of the graphics is used in the speech) which I find quite revealing for Toastmasters club and district officers.
I took the figures of Toastmasters District 59 clubs at the end of the period 2009-2010 (173 clubs) and checked goals achieved within the DCP program per club versus the members they had at the end of the period. Excluding the clubs chartered within that same year (for which it’s complex to achieve many of those goals in less than a year), I found a clear trend that the more members the club has, the more goals it achieves.
Average members in a club vs. DCP goals achieved (D59 2010).
This fact is so simple that no fact-finding was needed, but I wanted to check whether there was a real difference in membership between average clubs (those meeting 4, 5, 6 goals), good clubs (achieving 7, 8, 9) and the top ones (reaching 10). And the answer is yes. Top clubs have in average over 40 members. Good ones have around 30, while average ones have around 25.
Thus, I believe that clubs should not be content with reaching 20 (as DCP requires) or 25 members. Their goal should to reach around 40 members and ensure they have the highest quality. In that way they would also be on the safe side and resist any sudden loss in membership. Clubs having that many members may face issues of finding slots for members to take active roles in meetings, I guess that the preferable solution is to have extra meetings (meet weekly).
The other interesting graphic shows to what extent incentives shape reality. As Toastmasters officers know, clubs are distinguished when they reach 5, 7 or 9 goals out of 10. A club that achieves 6 goals gets the same recognition than a club reaching 5 (the same applies to a club reaching 8→7, or 10→9). So you can see how officers push members in order to achieve either 5, 7 or 9 goals and how most of the clubs reach exactly those numbers and just a few end up the year with an even number of goals.
Number of clubs with a given DCP performance (D59 2010).
Video of the speech:
Script of the speech:
What do you think this represents?
Mr TM, fellows,
I joined TM in 2007. At that time, there were 3 clubs in Madrid: Standing Ovation, Excelencia and TM Madrid, which is the club I joined. Why did I join? Because I saw a great atmosphere, listened to 3 different prepared speeches, good evaluations… I thought “this is a club I want to be part of”.
We can say that the Quality of the club was high.
In this speech I will try to show you that in Toastmasters Quantity leads to Quality. I will go through personal experience, a bit of history and some statistics.
6 months after joining the club I became an officer, I was the VP education. Then I started taking note of the number of members and guests that came to every meeting, I did this for 2 years… I can tell you that as this number grew, the meetings were getting better, etc.
Let me now tell you something about Toastmasters.
In Toastmasters there is a system for evaluating clubs. This system is called the Distinguished Club Program, the DCP. It measures several things: how many members achieve CC, AC, how many new members come into the club, etc… The DCP tries to measure the Quality of the club.
There are 10 goals in the DCP that clubs should try to achieve. If a club reaches 5 or 6, it is recognised as Distinguished Club. If a club reaches 7 or 8 goals it gets a higher recognition. If a club reaches 9 or 10 goals is awarded the maximum recognition: President Distinguished Club.
Now let’s see how Rosemasters was doing these years.
Rosemasters was founded in October 2008. That 1st year ended with 22 members and achieved 3 DCP goals. The 2nd year it was already recognised as Distinguish Club, for having achieved 5 goals, and finished with 22 members. This year, in its 3rd year of existence, it has already achieved 7 goals and can achieve 9, with 20 members. For this it will be recognised as Select Distinguished Club or President.
What this club is doing is remarkable. Let me show you why:
I gathered statistics from all 173 clubs existing at last year end in Europe.
Best performing clubs, with 10 goals, had above 40 members.
Clubs with a result like Rosemasters this year (7, 8, 9) had on average have 30 members.
Clubs which achieved 4, 5 & 6 goals had ~25 members.
The weak clubs had ~15 members.
Let’s now look at clubs of the size of Rosemasters: between 18-22 members. They do not achieve as many goals as this club as achieved; this is why what this club has achieved is remarkable.
Why do I tell you this about Quality and Quantity of members?
As I said at the beginning: I believe that in Toastmasters Quantity leads to Quality. I believe that to make sure that this club continues to be healthy, that we continue to enjoy good meetings, we need more members.
I believe that finding members is a collective effort, it cannot be just an action for the VP Membership or the VP of Publicity; we all need to bring friends, family, colleagues from the work…
We should try to have at least 30 members, and then retain them. How to do that? We can discuss I in another speech. But remember in Toastmasters Quantity leads to Quality.
I belong to a couple of Toastmasters clubs in Madrid and Toulouse. Within the organization, clubs are gathered in areas, areas in divisions and divisions in districts. My clubs are part of District 59 which during last weekend it held the spring conference.
District 59 comprises continental Europe. It is now composed of 190 clubs, having grown from 53 in 2001! (or ~14% compounded annual growth during the last decade) and over 5,300 members. At the event we were about 300 Toastmasters (just over 5% of the population), in which had been the largest District conference in the history of the district.
The weekend was great. I started on Friday by going for a sightseeing 10km run through Lisbon as we would not have any time out of the conference. Then, I together with another ~60 members attended a wonderful workshop by Darren LaCroix which I described in a previous post.
This was followed by which it’ll be my last DECM (or District Executive Committee Meeting, as Area Governor of H2) for a while. There it was decided that in the next District Conference there will be semi-finals to shorten the Saturday speech contest (the conference itself was moved to 25-27 November, in Basel, Switzerland). The District is performing well, now ranking #2 of ~80 districts in the World, though it won’t be recognised unless more CCs and ACs are achieved (Competent and Advance Communicator awards). Then the conference itself started.
This was a special event as Pat Johnson, Toastmasters international president, was also present. She gave two keynote speeches: one about the typical Toastmaster member (to discover there isn’t such in TM diversity) and another one on leadership (“It’s amazing how much you can get done if you don’t care about who gets the credit”, H. Truman), both very good presentations, full of insight and experiences.
One important thing to note is that this has been the first conference to be widely tweeted. I had attended other Toastmasters conferences in which only some members were tweeting the event, but in this one tweeting was openly encouraged by Jack Vincent, the moderator of the District account (@Toastmasters59), and proved to be a success. Check it out searching the hash tag #tm59 for everything related to the District or #tmlx11 for that particular conference related matters.
On Sunday morning there was a panel discussion about experiences of using the web in Toastmasters. I especially liked the information shared by Marina Lussich, from her club, Barcelona TM. They got to incorporate the use of the web into the Competent Leader manual by assigning roles as “blogger of the day”, etc, which are taken into account for the CL award. Great idea!
In that session it was also raised the possibility of getting sponsors to cover the costs for the streaming of the conference in the future (privacy issues of contestants should be taken into account). It could be interesting for Basel.
Finally, the most important part of the weekend: the contests. Again we had the chance of witnessing 2 fabulous contests. The Evaluation Contest results were:
Once again: The organization of the event was superb: The venue, the rooms, the availability of free wi-fi, meals, soundtrack of the event, characterization of the conference chair as Henry the Navigator, performance of a university Tuna group, the Gala Dinner, the helpdesk, etc… Congratulations guys! After having been in 3 conferences organized by you, you rock and keep getting better!
The guy is impressive. The 3-hour workshop was fantastic. The deal was truly value for money.
He explained his story more or less in his winning speech from 2001, repeated at an event of the NSA in the following video:
10 years later, he is even better… but he wasn’t always like that. During the weekend he played another video of himself in the late 80´s. He was then a disaster of a public speaker. He then went on a journey of studying the best speakers and working hard to improve until being what he is today. This sounds very much as the American dream story… but having seen the video back then and seeing the dozens of shelves filled of videos and cassettes of speeches that he went through in those 10 years, there is little doubt of the truthfulness of that story. As he said “I use the tool of Toastmasters better than most”.
Some takeaways of the workshop
I will leave below some of the notes I took during the workshop, to share them with you and to have them properly stored for myself (still, if you get the chance of attending one of his workshops, do yourself the favour and book a place in it). Many of them are quotes either from him or from his coaches, sometimes I didn’t get right the source.
The most important part of a presentation: “The thought process in the audience’s mind”.
He introduced the concept of “salting” a presentation: getting your audience to want to hear your message before you deliver it (building up curiosity, tension).
The 4 most important habits to create:
Never turn down stage time (he even subscribed to 4 different club to “quadruple his failure rate”).
Record yourself every time (“yeah, it’s hard to listen to yourself… but guess who we have to listen to!”).
Be confident enough to be humble.
You must crave feedback.
“Habits are like train tracks: take a long time to put in place but once there they’ll take you anywhere”, Patricia Fripp.
On nervousness before an audience: “Did anyone come here to watch me fail?”
“Skill set without mindset will get your audience upset”.
Sometimes emphasizing is de-emphasizing (from the lyrics of some U2 song).
“Clarity and simplicity”, for the audience. Use the stage with a purpose.
“Don’t add humour, uncover humour”. Not especially in favour of adding others’ jokes, if you do that you have to say so.
If you are inauthentic and the audience senses that, they won’t follow you.
“Connect before you can educate, entertain and persuade” (he had greeted 90% of the audience individually before starting the workshop). As a curiosity he mentioned the movie “Avatar”, in which the creatures are connected through hair and ponytails, e.g. “the horse chooses the rider”, in the same way the goal of the speaker is to get the audience to like him.
For professional speakers the pay has to be a side effect.
We are not taught how to incorporate feedback.
“Toastmasters slogan should be: `The best place to make mistakes´”.
“The difference between good and great speakers is 100 speeches”, Dale Carnegie. An average Toastmaster member gives 3-4 speeches per year (it’d take 25 years to give 100). Take every opportunity you have to give speeches. He delivered his winning speech 22 times in the 3.5 months previous to the competition. “What is your stage time rate?”; join more clubs.
“Speaking as a dialogue, not a monologue”. Use pauses to give people time to reflect, especially when speaking to people of different cultures and when you ask rhetorical questions. Since pauses are uncomfortable for the speaker, give yourself something to do mentally, e.g. counting “1001, 1002, 1003…” (Internal dialogue)
“Jesus did not use Power Point… he used parables”. Tell one to make a point; then another one to make another point. Use very clear transitions between stories. Be careful of narrating the story: not good to step in and out of the story. “Take us, don’t tell us”. A story goes directly into the subconscious.
“What can you do to tell the story without words?”. The emotion is in the eyes (“eye-motion”). Reaction tells the story.
In a story: at least one of the characters has to change the emotion from the beginning to the end. Focus on telling better stories. The audience needs to know who is speaking: the best way to achieve it is by using the name of the recipient of the message in the dialogue (no need to change position, just a heel-turn).
V.A.K.S. = Visual Auditory Kinesthetic Smell (strongest one is describing smell)
Invite the audience into the scene (use “you”). “I / you ratio”: Even when telling a personal story, use more times the pronoun “you”.
“Tap and transport”: ask a question about a personal memory of the audience and then bring them into your story (they’ll relate what you say with their story, it’ll be their story). Once telling the story is better to use present tense. Do not ask “How many of you…?”, use instead “Have you…?”, the test is that you would never ask to a friend in a 1-to-1 conversation “How many of you?”.
“It doesn’t matter what you see, it matters what the audience see when you say it”, Patricia Fripp.
Not in favour of memorizing a speech (internalize it). Never give a speech in front of a mirror. Do not memorize gestures (inauthentic).
What do you want the audience to do / think / feel after hearing your speech? You must be able to phrase that message in 10 words or less.
On the use of simple vocabulary/grammar: “the audience wants you present, not perfect”.
Hold the silence before starting the speech (shows confidence): the “Ed Tate scan”. How stable you are in the first 30 seconds tells the audience how stable the message is.
Let it go. The true story is not so important. You may have to twist some details or cut some parts.
Opening: CSI beginning, i.e. directly into the crime scene.
Do not preach. Don’t tell people what to do (“you should”), instead tell what you did, what “we” could do, etc…
Some weeks ago I read “The Seven Minute Star”, by Florian Mueck. Florian is a fellow Toastmaster from one of the clubs in Barcelona who I met some years ago in a division conference in Madrid.
He is a very energetic speaker and I remember that he came in 2nd in the International Speech contest in that division conference. I have seen him some other times along these years. In one of those occasions, I believe in Porto, he mentioned that he was writing a book. I remember him mentioning something about some stairs, a way to the top, etc. And about a year later here I am, having read the book and writing the review.
The book is a quick guide to become a proficient public speaker by following 15 steps (confidence, transparency, first sentence, eye contact, voice, body language, visual aids, structure, rhetoric, anecdotes, quotations, humor, enthusiasm, passion, and smile). It is a very easy and enjoyable read (~100 pgs.) with lots of stories and examples. If you have no previous experience in public speaking, the book is a very informative guide.
If you are a member of Toastmasters, you may have noticed that the Toastmasters program covers many of those steps in the book, though he adds some more tips: for example, the smile (then you recall having always seen Florian smiling!) or the stress in the use of quotations (though I may disagree in the approach! I would say “read a lot and pick some quotes out of what you’ve read” instead of learning some quotes right away).
Another good point is that in the book he presents some tools he has developed, for example the “speech development template”. I recommend you to pay a visit to his website, where other tools (speech evaluation template) and analysis are available.
If you would like to know more about Toastmasters and you happen to live in or nearby Madrid, take the opportunity to attend the Division Conference of Toastmasters next Saturday May 7th in Madrid.