By Candy Ikokwu
Congratulations to the winners of Broadgate Speakers International Speech and Evaluation Contest, Simon Hull and Christopher Hall!
Christopher Hall won the Evaluation competition with an entertaining speech, demonstrating how to run off with a guest’s bag.
Simon Hull inspired once again with his speech on….find out at the next level of the Contest.
Congratulations also to All the Contestants in both competitions for enthusiastically taking on the challenge.
Huge thank you to everyone who helped out with organising the Contest, including the Functionaries, Chief Judge and Chair.
Special thanks to our Judges from other clubs, PMI, MLP and 1st London, who responded so kindly and quickly to volunteering, as well as the mystery speaker Pravit Vijay from Cass Toastmasters, with an inspiring speech on happiness.
The competition is not over!
The Area Contest
Congrats again to Simon and Christopher.
Simon won Second place in the contest with a fresh take on his message about maximising our time. He will be competing at the next level of the competition, the Division Contest.
Also to Christopher, who in spite of an untimely and challenging interruption to his evaluation soldiered on to give the audience some valuable insights
The next level is the Division Contest on 23rd April at 1-5 Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, E14 4QJ, 6.15pm for a 7pm start. We will be supporting Simon as he goes to another level!
Size Up Your Audience Dec 2007
Extract from Toastmasters Magazine Cliff Suttle, ATMG/CL
A while ago, I was helping Joe with his first International Contest. During our coaching session, he shared an observation that confused him. It’s seems that last fall, he watched me compete in the Humorous Speech Contest at my advanced club. I lost that contest. However I eventually advanced through a different club, and two rounds later at the division contest, I defeated the exact same person with the exact same speech. Joe wanted to know how that could happen. Was it due to a different set of judges? Was the other speaker just having an off day? Did I practice more? Did I make a lot of speech changes? What changed? The difference between the club contest and the division contest wasn’t the speeches, it was the size of the audience.
Whether your speech is for a Toastmasters club, a board of directors meeting or a chamber of commerce, you need to do your homework. You should research your audience and adapt your speech to be effective for that group. One of the most important aspects of knowing your audience is to know the number of people expected to attend.
Different-sized audiences will respond better to different delivery styles. Here’s the basic, breakdown:
-Talking to 10 people or fewer is a conversation
-Getting up in front of 20 people is a speech
-If there are 40 people in the audience, it is a performance.
-100 people or more is a show.
Size does matter. In the humourous speech contest Joe referred to, I designed my speech to win the district contest – not to win the club. My competitor. on the other hand. had created a speech to win the club. Whereas the opponent’s speech did win the club, it did not translate well to the division stage, where the audience size has grown considerably. Therefore, with each level that the two of us advanced, my speech grew stronger while my opponent’s speech declined in audience response. By the time we reached division level and competed in front of 60 to 70 people, my speech was nearing its peak. The crowd responded better, I earned bigger laughs, my big hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions could be seen all the way at the back of the room. My competitor’s speech looked flat and lifeless, especially to the people seated in the back.Hint: some judges do sit in the back.
Joe understood but wanted more details. “How do you tailor your speech to each audience?” he asked. So, for Joe and everyone else, let’s look at each group and discuss the differences.
A small group of fewer than 10 people isn’t a speech at all. The best presentation for this size audience is more of a conversation. Highly planned-out topics don’t work well here. Loosely organized talks that allow the speaker to change direction quickly work best to keep up with changes in the audience’s interests. In a professional setting, a question-and-answer session is sometimes the best way to handle a small group. In a Toatmasters contest, you probably will not encounter this size audience except in the smallest of clubs.
Once you have an audience of 20 or more, this is where true, Toastmasters-style speeches begin. You can still have a conversational ton e to your speech, but now there are too many people to have a conversation with each person. Use large hand gestures. Moving around the podium area to connect with different groups works well too. Eye contact should be limited to no more than five-to-eight seconds on any goven person. Eye contact longer than thast will cause an audience member to feel singled out. This speech needs to be planned. The audience will no longer be interested in a conversation but will want you to lead them down the path to your message. Groups of 20 to 30 people are common at club and small area contests.
When the audience exceeds 40, you need to memorize your speech. Planned speeches can look very inauthentic to smaller groups, but at this point. you’re on stage. Your speech is now a performance. Slight hitches in your performance will be noticable, especially in a contest spech. Pausing for more than four seconds, looking at the floor while you remember your next line, or using an odd hand gesture will be instantly noticed. Your gestures and facial expressions need to be seen by everyone, so they need to be bigger.
Eye contact on any one person is now limited to three or four seconds. Laughter is c ontagious; thye more people you have, the bigger the laugh. Take time for these laughs to reach their natural conclusion. Pauses up to 10 seconds long can be expected to allow audiencve members to get their giggles out of their systems. You need to practice facial expressions to use during these long pauses to let the audience know you are still connected with them. Posture become more important. You need to appear completely confident.
When your audience grows to more than 100, it’s time to raise the question and put on a show. Take the stage like you own it! Confidence is the number one effective skill on the platform. Minor glitches in your confidence will be seen from a mile away. A big audience can be like a big dog; they can smell your fear. Your gestures and facial expressions need to be huge. Have you ever seen stage makeup on an actor in a play? During the play they look great, but if you visit back stage after the show, the actors look like clowns. Giant red spots on their cheeks, crow’s feet that go half way across the sides of their heads. Stage makeup needs to be seen all the way in the back row, so the makeup has to be exaggerated. So if you want to be seen in the back row, gestures and facial expressions have to stand out too.
This also applies to your vocal expression. More vatiations in volume and pitch are necessary to get your point across. Forget one-on-one eye contact. It is now about relating to the geoup. Because of the decreased angle from your eyes to theirs created by the greater distance, everyone in a section of the audience will feel like your’ve made eye contact. Be well rechearsed, but try to make it look as if you just thought it up on the fly. This is a tricky thing to accomplish; it takes a lot of practice.
The big question is, how do you design a speech that will knock them dead at the district level in front of 250 people, but still play well at the club level for as few as 15? This is the trick.
Here are a couple of ideas I’ve uncovered over the years:
First, plan for the big stage,Go for the gold, play to win, reach for the brass ring, etc. Ity’s much easier to ton e down a big speech than ramp up a small one. Work on your speech from day one as if you have already made it to the district finals.
Now, go back through the speech and tone it down for your club and area contests. Make movements smaller, the inflection narrower and stage movement less dramatic.
Next, look for opportunities to work in one-on-one crowd interactions at the club level. This will help to take it from a big audience speech to more of a club-level speech. Be willing to ad-lib a bit, to coincide with the audience’s reaction. To do this, you will have to make sure the speech is well under the seven-minute and 3–second limit, so you’ll have plenty of time.
Some clubs and club contest judges already understand that they are looking to advance someone to the next level who can win at the next level. These clubs and judges may be looking for the big speech as apposed to the smaller, flatter speeches. This is a situation you will have to determine by knowing your club and anticipating the tastes of the people who may be selected to judge. It’s always a delicate balancing act. But for the most part, you’ll want to remember that people who play big, win big.
When You Are The Evaluator
Toastmaster Magazine Jan 2005 Talia Ehrlich Dashow CTM
1. Listening Tips
Look at the Speaker
Looking at the speaker helps you focus on what he/she is saying. It also lets you see the speaker’s posture, eye contact, emotion and connection with you and the rest of the audience. Looking at the speaker also gives him/her a receptive audience, which is encouraging. This also reminds you of where you are and what you’re doing, which helps keep your mind from wandering.
Mirror the Speaker’s Feelings
If you smile when he/she smiles, frown when he/she frowns, lean forward when he/she moves forward, shake your head at his/her sad story, you help create a stronger connection between you and the speaker. Mirroring allows you to experience the speech on a more visceral level, accessed by your emotion and physical response. You also give the speaker a sense of being heard and understood.
Another major distraction for evaluators is trying to remember what they want to say. Even a five-to-seven minute speech can include a lot of things to comment on. However, it’s not so long that you’ll forget everything about it. You don’t need to write extensive notes, just a few key words to help you remember what you were thinking. The danger of writing notes is that they take your focus away from the speaker. Knowing that you’ll have something to trigger your memory can help you return your focus to the speaker more clearly.
2. Speaking Tips
Make it Subjective
The truth is, we can’t give an objective evaluation even if we want to, because what we think is filtered through our own opinions and feelings. Make the most of that. Talk about the impact the speech had on you. Did the opening capture your interest? Did the closing make you want to run out and do something? Did you feel uncomfortable when the speaker lost her place, or happy when he/she smiled at the end of the story? The speaker doesn’t know, and wants to know, all of these things.
Talk About What You Liked
We all tend to be harsh self-critics, so learning only items an evaluator didn’t like is enough to send a new speaker screaming from the room. People remember what earned them praise and will try to repeat those things in the future, so praising a speaker’s strong points will help reinforce them. Be sure to talk about what you liked – even if you’re sure the speaker knows. Emphasizing the speaker’s strong points can also teach the rest of the audience what you thought was successful, so they can try it too. It helps to start with a positive attitude, and then look for the parts we liked.
Sandwich Growth Between Praise
We are asked, as Toastmasters evaluators, to give the speaker one or more suggestions for improvement. Resist the temptation, especially with someone we think has a thick skin, to list a large number of perceived faults without balancing them with successes. People find it much easier to absorb criticism when they are also praised. Plus it makes change seem easier, and less overwhelming, to hear that some parts are already pretty good.
Saying ‘That was a great speech!’ doesn’t tell the speaker anything. ‘Your opening really drew me in, your pacing held my attention, and your conclusion inspired me to go home and write to my political representative,’ gives more information. Better yet, be specific about words you liked, gestures that illustrated a point for you, setups that made a joke funny, places where the speaker paused and let you absorb some piece of information before going on. These details give a speaker a lot more information about not just what worked, but why.
Be specific about what worked and what didn’t. It’s hard to change when told, ‘your conclusion was weak.’ It’s easier to improve when told, ‘I expected a sentence or two more about the subject to draw together the opening and the body of your speech. Without it, your conclusion felt a little sudden.’ It’s also important to be just as specific about what worked. Saying ‘I liked your humour’ and then going into specific detail about what didn’t work makes it seem like the first part was just to make the speaker feel good. Tell them in as much detail what worked, since otherwise they won’t believe you.
Yes, your evaluation must be from your point of view. However, it is not about your opinion of the speech topic. Some speeches can be controversial. You, as evaluator, are not there to give your opinion of the debate, but to talk about how effective the speech was. Did it tap into universal human emotions? Did it have a compelling message, even if you did not personally agree with it? Maybe the speech made you very angry. If so, it certainly tapped into something. Articulating why it angered you can give both you and the speaker some good insight into what worked in the speech.
When we are offering both positive and negative feedback, it is very easy to put ‘but’ in between. ‘Your opening was compelling, but the body didn’t back it up.’ To the listener, everything that precedes the word but gets negated. It is no longer sounds like having a compelling opening matters, since ‘the body didn’t back it up.’ Making them two separate sentences, or connecting them with ‘and,’ will help make it clear that these are two separate pieces of feedback. ‘Your opening was compelling. I felt the body wasn’t as compelling.’ ‘Your opening was compelling, and I was hoping the body would back it up. I thought it fell short’.’ Also beware of but masquerading as however, nonetheless, and other similar words.
3. Thinking Tips
From What to Why
These are some advanced tools, which are especially useful when evaluating a polished, experienced speaker.
Talk About The effect On You
The more you can get at why a part of a speech is effective, the more helpful your evaluation will be. Maybe the tone of the speaker’s voice really conveyed sadness, or maybe it was the drop in volume, or both. Don’t give up, even if you don’t really know why. Start with the effect you felt or saw, then brainstorm about what might have made it so effective.
Explore Other Options
Try other ways of getting the same effect, or ways to get different effects. Maybe you liked tha casual intimacy the speaker conveyed when moving around the room. You can try talking about the effect it had, and then exploring other effects the speaker could have tried for. Maybe the speaker’s pacing gave a feeling of energy to the presentation. Perhaps the speaker could try standing still for the beginning and start moving midway through to build up to a high finish. Or the speaker could move for some parts and stand still for others. Or the speaker could try to convey the same intensity and energy without moving his/her legs, as a challenge to try something new. None of these approaches indicated that the speaker did anything wrong; they just explore different ways to try new techniques.
If you focus on the speaker and speak explicitly about your own experience of the speech, and how and why the speech worked, you will soon give powerful and useful evaluations.