17. A New Series: My Personal Journey in Public Speaking: 4. My journey starts here - Competent Comm
The Competent Communication Manual (CC) is the basic manual for every member, no matter how experienced a speaker you may be. At first, I was questioning the logic behind this. Isn't it a waste of time for experienced speakers to start from scratch?
As I continued on, then I began to realise that no speaker will ever get over the basics. The projects are so fundamental to a speaker that we will come back to these projects every few years to sharpen our saws.
There are 10 speeches in the CC Manual.
The Ice Breaker — The first speech of the Toastmasters program is about introducing yourself to your peers, providing a benchmark for your current skill level, and standing and speaking without falling over.
Organize Your Speech — Introduces the basic concepts of organizing a speech around a speech outline.
Get to the Point — Clearly state your speech goal, and make sure that every element of your speech focuses on that goal.
How to Say It — Examines word choice, sentence structure, and rhetorical devices.
Your Body Speaks — Shows how to complement words with posture, stance, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact.
Vocal Variety — Guides you to add life to your voice with variations in pitch, pace, power, and pauses.
Research Your Topic — Addresses the importance of backing up your arguments with evidence, and touches on the types of evidence to use.
Get Comfortable With Visual Aids — Examines the use of slides, transparencies, flip charts, whiteboards, or props.
Persuade With Power — Discusses audience analysis and the different forms of persuasion available to a speaker.
Inspire Your Audience — The last of 10 speeches, this project challenges the speaker to draw all their skills together to deliver a powerful inspirational message.
I tried to do one project every meeting, that means I have 2 weeks to prepare for each speech. After each speech, armed with the feedback received from my fellow members and guests, I start to prepare for the next one. The key is to balance the time frame, take your time to prepare and learn the skills required, yet, don't take too much of your time in order to sustain a good momentum.
Personal Tip: The easiest speeches I prepared stemmed around myself, my family, my hobbies, my personal passions, my work, etc…. You get it right? These topics are easier to talk about, and they will give you confidence since they are all you own stories. Being comfortable with your content then allows you to focus on improving your method, your delivery, your skills, all these are taught in a systematic way in the CC manual.