Marty shot in suit with one hand in pocket

Archive for the ‘Public Speaking’ Category

Practice, Practice, Practice

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Practice, practice, practice.  We have all heard that thousands of times in our personal, sports and business lives.  I preach it constantly in my sales training and presentation training and coaching business. Sometimes I show the infamous Allen Iverson “Practice” video, which is still as hilarious today as it was when he said it live!

I have recently been fortunate to have developed a winning speech in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest.  I won our club (Peachtree Club), then the Area contest and then the Division contest (on my birthday).  I will compete next at the District level (state of Georgia) on Saturday evening, May 5. The winner of this contest moves on to compete at the contest at the International Convention in August in Orlando, FL.  If you win your semifinal round, you compete two days later for the chance to known as the “Public Speaking Champion of the World”!

I originally wrote this speech last fall for our club contest.  But as the rounds have gone by and I have gotten great input from my audience and other “experts” I trust, I have tweaked and changed the speech a fair bit, mostly the beginning and ending (interestingly, that is all most people remember of a speech, the beginning and ending).

Starting last week, I have entered into the final phase of preparation, practice.  I will do the speech for as many as five other Toastmasters clubs plus two other private coaches I am using.  In other words, no more tweaking of the words, just practice, practice, practice.  And, feedback from those audiences.

Interestingly, this focus on practice has been very enjoyable.  The speech is becoming a part of me, I am finding aspects of it that are new and rich every time I deliver it and practice it.  It becomes more “alive” each time.  The speech and I become more intertwined each time.  In fact, practice has become a soothing aspect to help me manage the nerves and energy that build up as I approach the contest on May 5.

One saying says, “Practice makes perfect.”  Another says “Perfect practice makes perfect.”  Whichever you like, don’t model Allen Iverson and mock practice. Model the old Bo Jackson Nike commercial, “Just Do It”, just practice!  Like the Milk Council said in their old commercials, “Milk, It Does a Body Good”, I say, “Practice, it does a speech well!”

Here is the version of the speech I delivered on March 10.  Come out to the Georgia Tech Conference Center on Saturday May 5, 8 pm to watch me compete at the District level!

Great Delivery….Fire Your Writer!

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I have been a member of Toastmasters for about 18 months now.  While I spent 20+ years speaking to many different types of groups, mostly sales presentations, I had never been in Toastmasters.

When I got into the professional speaking business last year, I thought it was time I joined Toastmasters to work on my speaking skills.  I joined Peachtree Toastmasters in Atlanta.  Fantastic club, great members. 

The beauty of Toastmasters is that you get plenty of practice speaking, but you get a quick evaluation the same night.  Another member gets up after your speech and gives an evaluation, pointing out the things you did well and what you could do to improve.

This past Monday I gave a speech from the Advanced Communication Manual for Story Telling.  The objective was to deliver a Folk Tale or Tall Tale.  So, I wrote my own tall tale, an exaggerated story that was actually based on a true story.  I had a lot of fun taking the kernel of the true story from a camping trip with me and my daughter.  I did plenty of edits, practiced a lot, and was ready to go!

The guy doing my evaluation is a very experienced speaker and knows I am in the business, so he delivered a more critical evaluation than you might do for a novice speaker.  He opened his evaluation with the title of this blog, “Marty, great delivery, great presentation, great drama……but fire your writer!”

He then proceeded to back up his statement….and he was 100% right!  It was great feedback and a great reminder for us all.  We can have the best performance, the best drama, the best vocal variety, the best physicality, but if the story is disjointed or not logical or doesn’t flow well, then the speech does not have the impact it should.

Most people I work with on their speaking want to jump right into the “platform” phase or the “stage” portion of their speech.  I take them back to their script, back to the message, back to the text.  Think about it, the best movies are the ones where the director and actors start with a fantastic script.

So, my own experience was a great lesson for us all.  Focus first on writing a great speech, on writing a logical and well thought out script.  Have others read it and react and help you edit it.  Once the story, the message, the plot and the characters are well thought out and written, THEN move on to working on the delivery and presentation.