Monday, July 21, 2008

Many speakers run over time. Their apparently endless monologue is cut short by the event organizer before the speaker has reached the end. Or the speaker, seeing a clock or hearing a bell - or worse, seeing people start to walk out, finishes suddenly.

So how do you time your speech? Often a speaker will rehearse the speech two or three times in its entirety. You can write your speech to a certain length, write the paragraph headings on card index cards, and then try to rehearse it until you remember it. 

One speaker told me he shut himself in his bedroom - then the lounge after the family left for the afternoon, and rehearsed his ten minute speech thirty times over about three hours.

A past president of my nearest speakers' club told me that it's better to chop a ten minute speech into sections and rehearse each section. So the introduction is one minute. You rehearse that ten times until you have the wording and timing right. For a five minute speech your three middle sections are one minute.  

For a ten minute speech you might have four middle sections of two minutes each. 

Similarly for a thirty minute speech you could have a five minute introduction, a five minute conclusion, and three middle sections of five minutes.

For a one hour speech you could have a five minute introduction, a five minute ending, and five sections of ten minutes each. Or a ten minute introduction, a ten minute ending, and four ten minute middle sections.

Some people speak slowly, whilst others speak faster. You could allow an extra minute or so for pauses for laughs. Or interruptions. Or audience interaction when you ask them questions.

How do you judge your pace? If you have a word counter on your computer, take a thousand word piece and see how long it takes you to read it. 

Or take a newspaper and time yourself for ten minutes, read aloud and mark where you stop. Then count the words to that point.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008


How To Improve Your Photos

Men's Photos  
I am speaking for women like me. My opinion - only my opinion, is this:  
1 Show a face photo. 
2 Smile. 
3 Nothing without a shirt unless you are in the sea or on a boat.  
4 Shirt and tie is better than a t-shirt. Dinner jacket and bow tie is better than a shirt and tie.

Women's Photos 
1 Show a face photo.  
2 Wear lipstick. 
And smile.  
3 if photographed from above (eg by somebody standing whilst you are sitting on a chair or bed) make sure that the photo does not elongate your nose and hide your upper lip so your nose seems to run into your mouth. 4 If you've got smart clothes but your face and hair still look frumpy and frizzy, go to the hairdresser for cut, or colour, or styling, or all three, and get lots of shots taken that day while the hair styling is fresh. Or wash your hair before the photo is taken.  
Check in the mirror that it looks right. Edit to eliminate stray hair sticking up or across your forehead. This can be done in a photo programme. You simply copy a few squares of colour from the adjoining area - painted wall or forehead. Superimpose the background colour over the stray hair you want to eliminate. I just got a MacBook which makes cropping photos even easier. If you have a friend who has a camera or phone which takes pictures or video, they can store them on their computer and crop them and then email them to you.  
I watched a TV programme on professional photos. One woman paid £1500 for photos for her work. The photographer edited the pictures to make her larger in some areas and slimmer in others. All done on the computers. 
You can edit pictures for simpler improvements. Remove glare. Remove distracting item in the background by cropping. 
You can insert your picture in a coloured frame. Or draw a frame. Even if you do it freehand, you can draw the left side of a square or oval or heart shape or arch. Then reverse and copy so that you have the two sides matching,

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Thursday, July 10, 2008


I just made a list of ribbons which I had won for speeches. 
First I wanted to know how many ribbons I had for each type of speech. A few days ago I had won a ribbon for evaluating. 

 I had a new ribbon to put in a frame. I used to write on the back of the ribbon the place, date and subject. But now it seems easier to write on the front. Although it defaces the ribbon, once you have two or three or four in a frame they all look the same. I want to remember when I won them, and where.

I had twelve ribbons, but I don't count the ones for the first speech and the tenth speech. They are rewards for milestones, for numbers of speeches given, quantity not quality.

Look at what I discovered about my ribbons.

I had 12 ribbons: 2 for completing 1st and 10th speeches; 3 for evaluations; 7 for impromptu speeches. But none for planned speeches!

Clearly my most successful performances are impromptu speeches. So I should continue with my plans to do stand-up comedy.

For completed speeches (2)
1 Ice Breaker (First speech) Harrovians 2004 (& HOD 2004)
2 CTM (Tenth speech) Harrovians

Ribbons for Best Table Topics
1 Holborn, UK, 8/11/2005 ‘Speak for turkeys at Christmas.’ Remember the turkey which escaped from the overturned lorry? As PR I had turkeys on TV but they ran away, all over the set, amongst the audience, like this (making noise and fIapping wings I gallop down the aisle back to my seat) ...’

2 Shanghai 2006 ‘Is computer dating and blind dating good?’ (Yes - except for my blind date with a bearded man - there was one on the restaurant doorstep, 3 inside ...)

3 Shanghai 2006 ‘How would you sell a bicycle which supports a ladder?’ (Illustrated) ‘I’d say: use it to hang washing in trees; be seen in traffic when meeting your friends.’

4 Harrovians 2007 ‘Thatcher said, “Ask a man to speak but ask a women to get something done”. Do you agree?’ (Yes, but father was action man and my mother did all the talking - because my father was deaf; after she died I did the talking and found out he’d been deaf for years.)

5 Harrovians Jul 2007 ‘Is Computer Dating successful?’ (Yes, I’m on 40 dating sites, under different names. I date men with viagra and heart bypasses and hopeful virgins.)

6 Harrovians Aug 6 2007 ‘How does a blind baby make sense of the world?’ (Sniffs the Toastmaster; feels the beard of a man in the audience, pats his shoulders and waist ...)

7 Harrovians July 2008 ‘Should we tax the rich?’ (No. they’ll emigrate. Make the rich run on treadmills in gyms to power buildings. You in the audience could be powering light bulbs, please stamp your feet.)

Ribbons for Best Evaluator
1 Singapore Props 2006 Company club evaluated Chinese girl speaker who acted an old and a young man. (I recommended props - baseball cap for younger man. She did not know what props were.)

2 HOD June 22 2006

3 Harrovians July 7 2008 Evaluated Warren Sheng facing a hostile audience. (He bravely got Shirley to heckle and throw water, which was convincing, ‘she’s that type of person’ and he did not get angry but got the audience on his side.)

I belong to Harrovians and HOD clubs in London. Both of them give you ribbons. But Holborn club in central London also gives you a certificate showing the club and date. I think that's a good idea. It saves you having to spoil the ribbon by writing on it, or having to type and print your own caption. Or forgetting where and when you won the ribbons.

I had made a list on the back of my Toastmasters manual of the competitions I'd entered and won. Then I added a list of ribbons. 

I hope to persuade Harrovians speakers' club to start printing mini certificates to go with the colourful red or white ribbons with the glamorous gold lettering. The committee are a bit doubtful about this idea. 

They were thinking of giving a certificate for the fifth speech. Then decided that the sixth was a milestone. So if you had a certificate with every ribbon, a certificate for the sixth speech would not be appreciated so much. 

I think it would be. If a ribbon is always special, so is a certificate. Just as you get ribbons for best speech as well as for 10th speech, you can have certificates if you are voted best speaker, as well as for doing your sixth speech. 

The alternative is to give a larger A4 certificate for the 6th speech. Or a small A5 certificate for the 6th speech and larger A4 certificates for prize-winning speeches.

If you win certificates or ribbons or trophies for speeches or anything else, it is good to have a record.  When I am listed as a speaker in speakers' bureau or agency, it will be advantageous and prestigious to be able to say how many ribbons I have won.  

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