The most important lesson I learned from 10 speeches with Toastmasters

I’ve given 11 speeches for Toastmasters. I’ve been voted best speaker for all of them except one.

The one I didn’t win is the one where I learned my biggest lesson about Toastmasters.

First, a few things that aren’t as important as what I’m about to tell you:

  • It’s important to be funny. If you get the audience laughing, you usually win.
  • It’s important to appeal to people’s emotions, not just logic. If you get the audience to feel something, anything, you usually win.
  • It’s important to keep everyone’s attention. If you do something unexpected – use an unusual visual aid, bring someone from the audience up to the lectern, even just physically act animated – you usually win.

But more important than any of those, tell a story.

Stories often are funny, appeal to emotions, and keep everyone’s attention, so you often get these others just be introducing a story into your speeches. But it’s too easy to fall flat if you focus on the others. You know, like how when someone is trying to be funny, they usually aren’t?

If you force yourself to tell a story in every speech, the rest comes way more naturally.

I thought I knew this trick. This gentleman on YouTube told me to start each speech with a story. And for most of my speeches, I did tell stories.

Except one.

And yes, that’s the one I didn’t win.

Guess who won?

The woman who told a fairy tale. That was her whole speech, a fairy tale.

Finishing the 10 Competent Communicator speeches for Toastmasters

On Monday, I finished my 10th Toastmasters Speech, thus completing the Competent Communicators Manual.

I did the last four speeches on four back to back meetings. That was the only way I could finish them fast enough to count toward our club’s goal for the academic year. We made it.

I ended up using a lot of the topics I proposed in my previous post here from the Idea Machine experiment. That helped a lot, having some ideas to use. The hardest part about speeches for me is choosing the topic. Once I’m locked in, I can come up with speech fairly easily.

The second hardest part is keeping the speech within the time limit. I can talk once I get going.

Tomorrow, I’ll share one of the biggest lessons I learned from these 10 speeches.

Taking back the backyard

We purchased a pool. It’s not a big one, just one of those inflatable ring pools. A friend told me it’s called a popup pool.

We set it up Saturday and started enjoying it Sunday.

The best part for me is that it’s moved us outside. As the summer heats up, we’ll continue to be able to spend time outside.

Most of the time, we end up inside, playing in our phones, staring at one kind of screen or another, streaming one kind of entertainment or another. We might as well be jacked into the matrix. At least then, it would feel real.

With the pool, we’re able to get some fresh air, quality vitamins from the  sun, and the a chance to let our eyes focus on something further than 20′ away.

We have a large backyard, compared to others in the neighborhood. It extends back behind our detached garage, far enough out to play volleyball, let’s say, and throw a Frisbee at the same time, without worrying about someone hitting anyone.

Last year, though, we didn’t use it that much.

This year, I imagine we’ll be out there a lot more, as long the pool holds up.

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