Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Read the right speech

If you can, read your speech from bullet points. If you must read your speech word for word, make sure you are reading the right speech.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe apparently read out a speech (Sept 16 I read the report) which he had previously given in August. Was it his best speech?

I don't know. Bt apparently the previous time he gave the speech it met with vocal protest from an opposing party who sang protest songs.

What can you do to prevent this sort of mishap?
Have a copy of the correct speech in your pocket or bag the day before. Have the title of the speech and date of its delivery at the top.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015


Impromptu Table Topics in Singpore, England, the USA and worldwide

At Toastmasters International clubs worldwide visitors and those members not doing a prepared speech or other role are offered the opportunity to speak unplanned, for two minutes on a surprise topic. Past winners often visit clubs giving their tips for a successful table topic. (Table topics were, and still sometimes are, topics picked unseen from the table.) In London, England, it is more common for the table topics master to read out the subject, allowing everybody in the room a chance to think about it and try to form a quick reply to every subject, then after a brief pause to pick on the person to speak.

The advantage is that not just one person is trained in speaking off the cuff, but as many as 20 to 40 in a room. If you are in the audience and can't think of an answer, you will feel even more admiration and gain extra pleasure from hearing an entertaining or informative answer, and seeing how the topic question could be answered.

If the topics master arrives early at a meeting, and the guests do likewise, the topics master has a chance to befriend the visitors, find out how quickly and easily they respond to questions, and ask if they would be happy to speak. The topics master can adapt the questions, or re-order the questions, giving the first question to a confident speaker, who demonstrates how it is done and sets up an atmosphere of enthusiasm.

Later questions can be given to guests and returning former members, VIP visitors such as the Area Governor who visits twice a year to give a report. (The number of questions can vary from three to ten depending on time, about five or six being more usual.)

In Singapore it is more usual to allow members of the audience to volunteer. The advantages are that you avoid the embarrassment of notebook coming forward - which is more likely in Singapore where greater numbers are shy, or speak English as a second language, than in the USA and UK those who want to speak can do so.

In some clubs the experienced topics masters know that many members speak Singlish and may be reluctant to volunteer. So the topics master encourages volunteers by offering a small gift. For example, a table displays several small objects. The speaker can choose one and say why they want or need that item. Then they get to keep it. The first speakers have more choice. Alternatively, everybody can be given the same gift, not the subject of their talk, such as a pencil or chocolate bar.

It's easy and not too expensive to go into a pound shop or 99 c shop and buy a big bag of chocolates or stationery or children's toys or knick-knacks. (UK, Poundland. Japan's Daiso is also found in the USA, Korea, Singapore and elsewhere. .)

If the club is affluent, they might reimburse the purchaser. Either occasionally or every week. Another way of doing this on a budget would be to ask everybody to bring in a small unwanted item, such as gift from a cereal packet. This could easily be done before or after Xmas or Easter.

As a visitor in Singapore, I often wait until after the VIPs such as the president are encouraged to speak first. I volunteer towards the end, especially if they topics master asks the toastmaster of the Evening, "Do we have time for one or two more topics?"

 Then I am not pushing myself ahead of the two or three keenest people. But I am not missing out.

Also in a smaller group I may be asked to speak at this point after the other optional speakers have been eliminated. Some have spoken; others have declined to speak.

Next post: My Prize winning table topic on A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush.
In Singapore at Bukit Batok Toastmasters club, 2nd September 2015.
Angela Lansbury CC (Competent Communicator) ACG (Advanced Communicator Gold)

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