Tag Archives: public speaking

“Share your passion” (speech contest)

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).

Speaking

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:

Speech_script_annotated

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.

Judge_ballot

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:

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Musings on objectives setting

A few days ago, I had a short Twitter exchange with a couple of friends on  objectives. Sara mentioned that she was not setting objectives for the New Year. Nacho made a point of my objective tracking approach, which I detailed in a post in the blog back in 2011 (Personal mid-year review). Unfortunately (or fortunately) I do not follow such a thorough approach anymore (1), though I do set myself some personal yearly objectives, have them noted down, track them, etc.

In that post from 2011, I made reference to a previous post in which I commented on a HBR study and a post post by Sid Savara. The main takeaways from those readings were: have the goals in written, have plans towards achieving them and share the objectives with someone (at least with someone you have confidence with, not necessarily with everyone!).

In this post I quickly wanted to share some examples of the objectives I set to myself (2):

  • Reading: as I mentioned in a previous post in which I shared a summary of (my) 2015, I set myself a minimum objective of reading 10 books a year. I do not read any book for the sake of meeting the objective. It is rather that I have dozens of very much dear books in the shelves waiting to be read and I keep buying (and grabbing from my parents’ home) books that I think would teach me something or add some value. Ideally, I would like to read about 2 books a month. That would make over 20 books in a year, however, during some periods along a year I read less often, I found that I am not that fast reader (in English and French and neither in Spanish!) nor all the books that I pick are that easy or short, so I linger every year around the 10 books. Do I share the objective? Up to now, not explicitly, though I force myself to write at least a yearly post commenting the books I have read… thus, I do have to read them! Follow up: it is not very structured, though I know at any moment the books I have read along the year (I keep a record) and every now and then make some numbers of pages to be read per day, per week, in order to complete this or that book at a given point in time.
  • Writing: here I always remember a tip from Conor Neill, a professor at IESE, who says that we should strive to write something everyday, at least 500 words (see the blog post where he explains the benefits of doing so, Writing to reflect. Mindful leadership). In my case, apart from job emails, files, presentations…, I do not write (and reflect on) for this blog (or any other format) on personal interests everyday. Ever since I started the blog, back in February 2010, I intended to write regularly. What does that mean? Initially I aimed at publishing 8 posts per month, I lowered this target lately to about 6 posts per month. That would make about 70 a year. In 2015 I just met that target. Previously I had always been above 80 posts. See below the monthly production.

Blog post per month

Blog post per year

  • Speaking: on this front I was very consistent when I joined Toastmasters in December 2007, trying to give a public speech every two months. I kept being quite engaged until more or less mid 2012. I then dropped Toastmasters until I re-engaged myself in mid 2014 at the corporate club of Airbus in Toulouse. I am now trying to figure out the pace at which the club attendance allows and I am able to prepare myself to speak often (by speaking I refer to giving prepared speeches, as every two weeks in the club almost everyone gets to speak either with a role of evaluator, in table topics, etc). Thus, a vague objective (speaking regularly), not quantified, not yet in written, though shared.
  • Flying: for this objective scheduling is key. As I mentioned in the post where I shared my path to the private pilot license (PPL), it took me 4 years to obtain it mainly due to the difficulty in finding slots. From March 2015 (once I had passed the theoretical exam) I was more rigorous, always trying to have at least two slots scheduled with the instructor and airplanes booked at any point in time. This enabled that, even if many slots had to be cancelled due to weather conditions (or any other issue), I was more regular with the flying, I managed to obtain the license and fly over 19 hours. For the 2016, the goal is clear: to fulfil the requirements to maintain the license, that is 12 flight hours with 6 take offs and landings in the last 6 months prior to the license expiry date. On top of that, in order to carry passengers it is required to have completed 3 take offs and landings in the previous 90 days. Thus, the requirements by law help you in aiming at flying often. On the other hand, I was trained to fly on Robin DR 400 airplanes and another objective I have is to learn to fly another model, Diamond DA20 in order to have more flexibility with the scheduling of airplanes and be able to fly oftenhow often is often? At least a flight per month (ideally 2), about 2 flight hours a month… this objective, then, is well followed up with the aeroclub scheduling tools, navigation logs, etc.
  • Running: with the running I have many and varied objectives. From running (e.g.) 2,000 km in a year, to completing at least 2 marathons a year, to beating personal best times (PBs) in different distances (10k, half marathon and marathon), to other miscellanea objectives (e.g. running x days in a given week, y kilometres in a given week or month, running some special race, running a number of days while on holidays…). For the completion of marathons and aiming at PBs I do schedule training plans at the online tool provided by Garmin (the provider of the GPS watch I use). Thus, the objectives are clearly defined, shared (with Luca, colleagues, in social media) and well followed up.

And it is here that I wanted to stress on the definition of the goal, its writing and its sharing. I will take the objective “running 2,000 km”. In 2014 I started to publish online in Twitter regularly both the goal and how I was progressing.

With the online tool I have the objective clearly written down and tracked, I know whether I am ahead or behind, the weekly or monthly mileage needed to attain the goal, etc. The sharing of the goal in my inner circles helps with the finding slots to run. The sharing of the goal more widely encourages and pushes oneself. See below how I reached the objective in 2015. You can see that while the training towards Seville (February) and Madrid (April) marathons lasted I was well ahead the reference. After those marathons took place I fell behind, even if I only fully stopped for a week after Madrid marathon. I kept running below the reference weekly mileage until the end of June, when I was 70km behind… I then subscribed for Millau (September) and started building up mileage for it, then extended the training up to Toulouse marathon (October), stopped only 3 days after it and, since then, I always was around or over the reference to attain the goal (even if I had to stop for over a week at the end of November due to a cold that got me down with severe throat ache).

Running mileage 2015 progression

***

It is clear that each one has a different approach and there is not a single one that fits us all. Many will not want to be constrained by fixed goals, nor be reminded of them by having them written, even less sharing some goal they are unsure to meet, not to talk about publishing it on social media! This is just how I go about trying to meet some personal objectives.

(1) At least not for every objective and plotting a global indicator.

(2) These goals are easy to share others are kept in the inner circles.

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“A good landing” (speech)

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].

A good landing

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 :-).

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“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” (speech)

Thanks to the drive of some individuals (Sarah, EduardoDominique) 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.

Today, I gave again a prepared speech in Toastmasters (2). In this post I just wanted to share it. Find it here, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, and below:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

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”.

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Competing

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.

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Stage time, stage time, stage time

Darren LaCroix is a Toastmasters member who won the World championship of public speaking in 2001. Last Friday, I attended a workshop on public speaking that he gave in Lisbon, just before our District 59 Spring conference.

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:

  1. Never turn down stage time (he even subscribed to 4 different club to “quadruple his failure rate”).
  2. Record yourself every time (“yeah, it’s hard to listen to yourself… but guess who we have to listen to!”).
  3. Be confident enough to be humble.
  4. 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)

Use stories

“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…

Recordings of Toastmasters finals speeches can be found at: Bill Stephens Productions. Darren found out that the champions:

  • Had a coach.
  • Paused.
  • Used Word to write the speeches (counting words).
  • Had a sparkle in the eye (they owned the stage).

If there is anything we should take home from the workshop, it is: “Stage time, stage time, stage time”.

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The 7 Minute Star (book review)

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.

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