Ready for your first Toastmasters speech?
Don’t worry; your chances of dying at the lectern are extremely slim! And that nervousness you feel is not as noticeable as you think. Remember, too, that everyone in your audience was once a beginner like you. They can recall when it was their turn to break the ice, and they support you. With all this on your side, you can sail through the speech! To keep it smooth sailing, here are a few tips:
- Ask for a mentor. If you haven’t already requested a mentor for club activities, now is the time to do so. A mentor is an experienced Toastmaster who will help you, with your meeting roles and with your speeches too. This person has stood before the crowd many times and lived to tell the tale. Complete the Mentor Request form included in your New Member Kit and give it to the vice president education.
- Read carefully. Study Project 1 in your Competent Communication manual. Don’t forget to read the evaluation guide at the end of the project.
- Your life is more exciting than you think! Work with your mentor to develop a speech about yourself. Find an interesting angle about your life’s story, describe your passions or tell about an incident that affected you. Surely you have six minutes’ worth of something to say about yourself!
- Narrow your topic by choosing three or four aspects of your life. How about your birthplace, education or family? Use stories, examples and anecdotes to emphasize your points. If you merely state a fact and then continue, most of your audience will miss the point.
- Avoid information overload! Choose your points and illustrations carefully. Too much information may overwhelm your audience. “Have more than you show, say less than you know,” is always good advice.
- Once you have the highlights, weave them into a story. Pretend you are talking to friends around the dinner table.
- Create an attention-getting beginning and strong closing. Memorize both if necessary.
- Prepare thoroughly and practice repeatedly! No one knows your life as well as you do, but practice how to present its highlights to others.
- While you’re being introduced, take a deep breath and slowly exhale. This will help your voice sound natural.
From Breaking The Ice