Speech Evaluation Seminar Dec 12th

Are your speech evaluations needing a little tune-up or polishing?  Do the evaluations you receive seem to be less beneficial than they use to be?  Have you wondered if there is some easy-to-use tool to help in the process?  If so, then it’s probably a good time to review your entire evaluation process and to see how and what tools a seasoned Evaluator uses.

Ron Musich, DTM

Ron Musich, DTM will be presenting an Educational Seminar on effective speech evaluations on Monday December 12th during the regular West Michigan Advanced Toastmasters meeting. 

During this session Ron will share the following:

  1. Original Speech Evaluation Outline sheet and his accompanying Detailed Speech Evaluation Guide. 
  2. Components of an Effective and Beneficial Speech Evaluation sheet
  3. Summary of Evaluation Elements
  4. To help you put the evaluation together quickly and effectively Ron will also share his Putting the Evaluation Presentation Together instruction sheet which explains in simple steps how to do it. 
  5. You’ll also discover the differences between a Pathway evaluation, a competition evaluation, and a Special Purpose evaluation. 

Put December 12th at 7 pm on your calendar and prepare to learn new ways to put together and present effective and beneficial evaluations.  Improved evaluations will benefit you, your club members, and potential members.

The WMAT meetings are hybrid so you can Zoom in or attend in person. 

Below is the zoom link and physical meeting location.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84342240389?pwd=UVhISWlCSzZyb3hCc2ViSWFkRDZ5QT09
Meeting ID: 843 4224 0389   Passcode: 691747

The Heather Hills Village,  1055 Forest Hills Ave. Grand Rapids MI 49546

The meeting is from 7 to 9pm.  See you there! 

Spotlight on Owen Monday, District 62 Club Growth Director (CGD)

About six years ago, Owen Monday’s supervisor met with him to discuss his professional development. She was a Toastmaster, and recommended that Owen join Toastmasters as well. Owen joined Secondary to None, and at his first meeting sat well in the rear of the room. He was approached by none other than Jack Pyle, who said, “You can’t just sit in the back!”

Fast forward to last year. Owen was President of Secondary to None when they reached President’s Distinguished. He was also awarded the Spirit of Success Award by Toastmasters District 62. That’s quite a journey!

Toastmasters Adds Value

Owen credits Toastmasters for helping him with his consulting work. “With my work I have the opportunity to speak with many people. Thanks to Toastmasters I speak more accurately and eliminate vocalized pauses like “um” and “er”.

Owen considers the agenda to be the most important part of the meeting. “The Agenda sets the tone of the meeting. Having an agenda and sticking to it makes the meeting more professional. This is particularly important when converting guests into members.” As for specific topics, Owen sees great value in Table Topics. “When giving an elevator speech, or when speaking off-the-cuff, people get nervous. Table Topics helps you grow in that area.”

According to Owen, a role that is often overlooked is the Ah-Er Counter. “Instead of ahs and ers, you’ll find that if you pause, people will pay more attention. Thus, learning to pause at the right time can lead to enhancing your speaking skills.

Building Quality Clubs

Looking to the future, Owen recommends that Toastmasters pay more attention to having high-quality meetings. “I’ve discussed this a lot. You want people to stay. Instead of having the same people doing the same roles every meeting, we need to get back to the beginning: Why did we join Toastmasters?” To set the stage for club growth, Owen says, “Have an Open House meeting every month. Invite people! Show off your Quality Club. Only then will people stay.”

Owen Monday is a legal affairs consultant at Monday and Associates, LLC, and is Immediate Past President of the Secondary to None Toastmasters Club. He is also one of the Trio, the top three elected office holders for Toastmasters District 62.

Hall of Fame 2021-2022

Congratulations Hall of Fame Winners!

President of the Year – Dennis Jacobs

Area Director of the Year – Tara McCoy-Jones

Division Director of the Year- Barbara Sheran

Spirit of Success – Nyrhe Royal and Owen Monday

Long-Time Toastmaster of the Year- Richard Chelski

Toastmaster of the Year – James Lemke

Special Achievement Award –  Owen Conner

Below is a photo collage from Club Officer Training in Portage on November 5, 2022. Region Advisor Joel Dawson from Louisiana attended as a guest speaker.

District 62 Toastmaster Spotlight: Tara McCoy-Jones

Improving Her Work-Related Communication Skills

An employer told Tara McCoy-Jones that she had some “bad speaking habits.” Fortunately, she already knew about Toastmasters from posted signs at one of her clients. She googled “Toastmasters”, found the Trail Blazers club in Jackson, Michigan, attended a meeting and became a Toastmaster on April 1, 2014.

As she advanced in Toastmasters, Tara discovered the leadership component of the program.  Its attributes caused her to expand her “why” for attending meetings. “I believe long-term, as I saw my communications skills improve, I stayed because of the camaraderie and leadership skills. I loved it when Pathways came in, because it’s instructional design, and that’s what I do.”

Problems with Pathways

Tara is a strong advocate of Pathways. However, with many other Toastmasters she felt that the original Pathways rollout was somewhat problematic. Moving through Pathways and getting levels approved seemed to be unduly difficult.

The biggest challenge from her perspective was to get late adopters to finally join Pathways. Tara now thinks that most of the original issues have been properly addressed, and that the current Pathways “experience” is much more straightforward.  “My experience in instructional design made me a believer in what Pathways was supposed to be. Still, I realized early on that it was a bit cumbersome. Now it’s not. I believe everyone who didn’t give it a chance before should challenge themselves to stretch and learn something new in their Toastmaster journey – why not Pathways?” 

Opinions on the Club Experience

Tara, now a District Director, thinks that afternoon clubs with virtual or hybrid meetings seem to be having success; however, potential members in academia or education may have difficulty attending due to their packed schedules. Clubs considering expanding membership should keep their potential audiences in mind, perhaps considering changing or expanding their planned meeting dates and times.

Suggestions for Managing Guests

Tara thinks that personal contact with guests is important. “What are they looking for in Toastmasters? Have you clarified meeting roles and expectations? Are guests given web links and references so they can investigate on their own?”  She points out that the C Division Advanced Speakers and Power Toastmasters club web sites have these features.

The Future

Tara doesn’t see herself leaving Toastmasters for quite a while. “I’m too Toastmaster-y ,” she notes. “The leadership roles and social interactions keep me coming back.”

Tactics for Improving Your Speaking

Most Toastmasters know that “public speaking” is much more than standing behind a lectern in front of an audience. Public speaking encompasses much more: from podcasts to casual conversations with friends, from Zoom meetings to reporting on a team project. You can attain the best results by understanding your audience, crafting a customized presentation and setting the correct goals. Read on for more!

The Audience

Connect with your audience through personal stories. What do you want your audience to feel or know? Choose stories that evoke those memories and highlight specific facts. Is the purpose of your speech informational? Tell a story where you first learned the facts you are presenting. For inspirational speeches you can tell about the lifetime of a historical figure or an important speech they gave. Entertaining speeches can be somewhat tricky in that some audiences may not respond well to particular stories. In this case, consider stories about yourself and how you reacted to events.

A Customized Presentation

The structure or form of your speech can take many forms.  One popular arrangement is introduction, points A, B, and C, and a conclusion.  Some other arrangements are chronological order, pain-problem-solution and issue, opinion and call-to-action. However you structure your speech, be prepared to make small changes to it based upon the specific audience or venue. For example, if your audience consists of technical professionals they will connect better to your speech if it is laid out logically with facts. Similarly, of your audience is a combination of adults and children a story-based structure is better.

Another customization you can make is to lengthen or shorten your speech depend upon circumstances.  If your structure contains three points (A, B and C), consider adding a fourth point (D) to be used only if there is sufficient time. Likewise, construct your conclusion to include several points in summation, again with the idea of eliminating one of them if time does not permit.

Set Goals for Yourself

Consider why you want to improve your public speaking skills. Are you thinking of paid public speaking engagements, networking with like-minded speaking professionals or marketing your products and services? Perhaps you would like to create a podcast or video channel. Understanding your goals will help you determine which talents to work on and how they will be used in your work, home and social environments.

Summary

Make certain that you understand and document your personal goals for improving your speaking skills. These goals in turn will help you decide on speech content and structure. Finally, understand your audience and how your speech will affect them. In this way you will get better at customizing your presentation for specific audiences.

Nervous About Speaking in Public? Reframe Your Stress

Man suffers from fear of public speaking. Frightened speaker standing near microphone is afraid of giving presentations to audience. Person with phobia of public speaking isolated on white background

Many beginning Toastmasters must overcome their fear of public speaking. In order to overcome this obstacle, speakers can re-think or reframe their mindset by considering the positive benefits of stress.

Stress is Natural; Relax!

One helpful way to deal with stress is to consider its effects as natural and useful. While it is natural to think of stress as bad, stressful feelings may simply mean that your body is reacting to arduous or demanding conditions. Knowing that you can cope with stressful feelings can help you avoid feelings of panic.

“… current advice for anxious people focuses on learning to ‘relax’ … deep, even breathing and similar tips,” says Jeremy Jamieson, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. Methods of calming yourself and re-thinking about stress can be a good strategy prior to your first speech.

A Study of the Fear of Public Speaking

In one study called the Trier Social Stress Test, two groups of adults were given the task of presenting a five-minute speech about their strengths and weaknesses with only three minutes to prepare. The first group was given information about the advantages of stress and were also asked to read summaries of three psychology studies that showed the benefits of stress. The second group received no information.

During their speeches, judges provided negative nonverbal feedback such as shaking their heads in disapproval, tapping their clipboards and staring stone-faced ahead. The first group, prepared with information about the benefits of stress, performed much better than the second group based on their physiological responses such as blood flow. In addition, the authors of the study theorized that the speaker’s short-term stress responses were shaped by how they interpreted physical cues.

Summary

Re-framing your reactions to a stressful situation as natural responses and learning methods of relaxing can help you get past your fears of public speaking.

Tips for Public Speaking on Video

Toastmasters have many opportunities for producing video content. These include creating podcasts, participating in a video interview, creating a YouTube channel, speaking in a Zoom or Teams meeting and simply FaceTiming with your phone.

Female young hispanic looking at webcam and talking with gestures.

Start Small

When creating your own video content start small. Consider a “Tips and Tricks” format, perhaps a set of 30- or 60-second speeches on small topics. Table Topics is great practice for this type of content. These short videos need not be published. Their main purpose is to give you the chance to practice with equipment such as microphones and lighting without a great time investment. Another advantage is that you can evaluate (or have someone else evaluate) your progress.

Test Before Publication

As your content matures, consider your various options for publication. These include single videos or a complete channel on YouTube, video podcasts, TikTok and Instagram. Test your content and media choice(s) to ensure that you can upload correctly, mark or tag your content and add descriptions, comments and links. Test your ability to publish privately, review security choices and study search engine optimization (SEO) options.

Script, Ad-Lib or Somewhere In-Between?

Most Toastmasters prepare speeches by writing them out as a script or preparing an outline. This allows the speaker to concentrate on the purpose of the speech (informational, entertaining, persuasive or inspirational). With a video recording, a strict script may come across as stilted or monotonous. Of course, a completely impromptu presentation may seem unprepared, shoddy or inexpert. Aim for a middle ground where you stick to an outline but allow yourself to be spontaneous as you describe specific issues or circumstances.

Personal Conversational

In a video, your facial expressions and general body language and presence will take on greater importance. This is due to two factors: most watchers will associate a video with an in-person meeting; however, only part of your body will be visible, with your face taking up most of the screen. The result is that watchers will pay more attention to your face in a video than they would for an in-person speech. To address this potential problem, approach producing your video the same way that you would engage in a conversation with a friend at lunch seated at a table. This makes you concentrate on eye contact, above-the-table gestures and facial expressions.

For More Information

There are several on-line resources to assist you in speaking on camera.  Here is a short list.

How Body Language Speaks

A video published by graduate students at Stanford University should be required viewing for Toastmasters.

Body Language is an Important Part of Speech

Toastmasters know that their body language must harmonize with the message and purpose of their speech. The original Competent Communication manual had an entire project titled Your Body Speaks. This chapter documented how your stance, movement, gestures and facial expression are important parts of speaking. They “… enhance your message, give you credibility, help release any nervousness you feel … and also help you achieve your speech’s purpose.”

Communication begins even before you open your mouth to speak. Your audience gets a first impression of you from your stance and your posture.

Stanford University Body Language Video

The video is titled Make Body Language Your Superpower. In it, Stanford students explain three basic gestures and how they can be used to strengthen your message. They introduce their presentation with the following: “Body language, both the speaker’s and the audience’s, is a powerful form of communication that is difficult to master, especially if the speaker is nervous. This video will teach you how to use your body language effectively, read the audience’s body language and what to do when they look bored or disconnected. Use these tools to enhance your nonverbal communication abilities and better connect with your audiences.”

Preparing  a Speech?  Use This Speech Template

Sometimes the most difficult part of a speech is the preparation. What will you say, and how will you say it?  Who is the audience, and how will you connect with them?  Luckily, a simple template can help you construct your speech in a way that helps your audience relate to your topic.

Begin at the Beginning

Consider the purpose of your speech. Toastmasters learn this idea during their first level projects in Pathways. Speeches can be informative, entertaining, persuasive or inspirational. Try to stick to a single purpose. Speeches that are a combination of two or more purposes are more difficult to prepare as well as perform. Consider your audience, and what they may know about your topic. Consider how you intend them to benefit from your speech.

A Simple Outline

With the above things in mind, consider the following simple outline:

  • By the end of my speech on [Speech Title];
  • The audience will appreciate or value [short list of topics] ;
  • And will take the following actions [short list of actions].

This outline or template helps you focus on the “Why” of your speech. As you create your introduction, main points and conclusion you can apply the template to ensure that the audience hears and receives your message multiple times. Here is an example.

Template: “By the end of my speech on Microwave Mug Meals, the audience will appreciate the ease of creating simple meals using a coffee mug, a microwave and a few simple ingredients. They will come away with recipes for creating simple meals that they can pass along to children, teens and even college students.”

Introduction: “Microwave Mug Meals are something I discovered online. They are a great way to introduce children to simple cooking, and can provide nutritious meals that are speedily produced.”

Main Points: 

  1. Relate a story about a teen who didn’t have a lot of time but still wanted to make their own meals.
  2. Describe some recipes you have tried, including stories about successes and failures!
  3. Note that even pizza, brownies and thanksgiving meals can be created in this way.
  4. List references for recipes and more information.

Conclusion: “Microwave Mug Meals are a fast and simple way to introduce children and young adults to nutritious foods. Try some of these yourself!”

While the subject of this speech is intentionally humorous, the purpose of the speech is to inform the audience. Use the Template to remind yourself of the main ingredients of your introduction, speech body and conclusion.

Member Spotlight

Toastmaster Tara Tucker

Meet Tara Tucker, Coach, Mentor, Author, CEO

Tara Tucker first discovered Toastmasters when she was invited to attend a club Open House by a friend. “It was different,” she said. “I felt safe, and encouraged. I knew I could grow here.”  Soon after, she joined Club 2714 “Secondary to None”, and started with the Coaching curriculum in Pathways. “I really enjoy getting evaluations. These are critical for my growth.”

Tara also looks forward to Table Topics. “The ability to do impromptu speaking is important for coaching and mentoring others.” This helps in her work as an author and coach as she inspires others to, “speak up and share their stories to heal, deliver and transform the lives of others.”

Tara was hooked on communicating at an early age. “I’ve always enjoyed writing, and my first publication was at the age of 13. However, I never aspired to be an author. Writing was a way to release my inner thoughts and feelings, so I didn’t bottle them up.”

When asked for her thoughts on the future of Toastmasters, Tara noted that,

“… the skills that Toastmasters teaches are necessary, especially for younger people. The program needs to be as inclusive as possible, since you have to know how to talk, either virtually or in-person. Try it out! See what we all have in common.”

Tara Tucker is a Best-Selling Author, Coach, Minister, Podcast Host, and CEO of Tucker Publishing House, LLC. She is also a youth mentor with The IMAGINE Mentoring Program of Michigan. She is strong in her faith, and through her transparency in authentically sharing her story, she empowers women and youth to unmask, speak up and share their stories to heal, deliver and transform the lives of others. Visit her web site at https://iamtaratucker.com/