Competent Communicator Manual Projects Guide

Having being a member of Toastmasters International since June 2012, I gladly recommend its educational program to anyone interested. From my time as an active member of the organization, I have found that the best way to take full advantage of the program is to work it. It is just like a gym membership. If you pay every month for access to the gym and all its resources but you don’t use them, it is your loss.  Lionnel-Yamentou-at-OC-Toasters-Group-Picture

Of course there will be times or situations where you cannot use your local gym because you are out of town or there are changes in your schedules. Toastmasters International doesn’t let you get away with any excuse. There are clubs in almost every country on the planet, and if there are no clubs in your country, you will be fully assisted in creating the first.

The educational program helps members improve their public speaking (Communication Track) and leadership skills (Leadership Track). As part of the Communication Track and as a new member, you receive a manual called the Competent Communicator manual.The Competent Communicator manual contains a series of 10 speech projects. Those projects progressively build on various basic public speaking skills that you are guaranteed to gain if you spend enough quality time preparing for them.

As part of my YouTube channel 365 Days of Public Speaking, I created a guide for each one of the projects in the manual. This guide in the form of a 10 videos series will inform non-Toastmasters and will provide Toastmasters with advice on how to make the most of each project. Enjoy! 🙂

Lessons From a Future World Champion of Public Speaking

cindy-carpenter-trophy
Cindy and David (husband) in Malaysia after her contest win.

“I am the Future World Champion of Public Speaking.” That is how she introduced herself to someone she was meeting the first time. Recently returned from the World Championship of Public Speaking where she took part in the yearly competition. The competition is part of the annual Toastmasters International conference, and more than 30,000 members compete annually at the club level. This year, Cindy took a runner-up trophy from the group of 10 contestants she was in during the semi-finals, against 9 other members. Well done Cindy!

At the Orange County Speakers Bureau, Cindy shared some of the lessons she learned from her participation in the contest. These lessons are most relevant to anyone who takes part in the international contest with the hope of winning the ultimate title. Nonetheless every student of public speaking will find these lessons useful. Here are key points from the learning experience with her:

  • Be Determined to Win

Being determined to win means giving it all you have and resolving never to give up, even before you begin. She gave the examples of Lance Miller who took part in the contest with the intention and hope of winning for 8 consecutive years, and finally did the 9th year, in 2005. If you want to one day be the World Champion of Public Speaking, resolve to stick to it until you win, no matter how many years it might take you.

  • Write a 5 Minutes Speech

On the stage of the International Championship, everything you do is magnified and has the potential to expand based on the audience’s reaction and other elements you might not have anticipated.

Preparing a 5 minutes speech gives you the chance to focus on communicating one core idea and enunciate your words well for the multicultural audience. In Cindy’s own words, prepare a 5 minutes speech and let it breathe.

  • Have a Laser Focused Message

Cindy gave the example of a speaker she heard very good feedback about, but when she inquired about what his message was, she could not get an answer. By the time you close your speech, every single member should have your core message in mind. Make your key message so clear that there is no way two people could have two different impressions from what you shared.

Lionnel with Cindy at the OC Speakers Bureau, September 2014.
Lionnel with Cindy at the OC Speakers Bureau, September 2014.

Three great questions she used to receive feedback from audiences during her practice: 1) What was my message? 2) What did you like? 3) What did you find most distracting? Keep improving your speech until close to 100% of your audience tells you that the message they received is the one you delivered.

  • Make the Audience Laugh

Most important within the first  and last 30 seconds of your speech. Cindy shared that for her next participation, she definitely will add more humor to her speeches. Leaving your audience members feeling good through laughter will increase your chances of taking home the trophy. Cindy gave the example of all the winners for the past few years leaving the audience laughing out loud. That definitely helps.

Whether your dream is to win the World Championship of Public Speaking or not, I believe the lessons above are very valuable for improving your speeches and presentations. Cindy will probably be sharing her experience during the LACE event in January next year. As for the next World Championship contest, it is next year in Las Vegas, Nevada and you bet I will be on that stage, with Cindy.

Thank You Cindy!

The Toastmaster’s Log (www.mytlog.tk)

If like most people you have ever “Googled” for solutions to problems or answers to questions, you know that there is virtually nothing you cannot find online. From web applications to native apps, going through web app, browser extensions and plugins, there is an online service to solve (or guide you toward solving) almost every challenge you could be faced with. phone-apps

When I joined Toastmasters International in June 2012 my objective was to earn my Distinguished Toastmaster Award within a maximum of 18 months. I missed that objective. I know people who have done it and it was a goal in alignment with my life plan and priorities at the time. Getting familiarized with the Toastmasters International educational program, I admired the fact that they had one of the best system to turn any dedicated learner into a top-notch communicator, and leader. I shifted my focus to enjoying the process and making the most of the experience. That might sound like a justification for not reaching my initial objective, because it is. 🙂

I spend a lot of time online and belong to an age group that is estimated to spend on average 7 hours online every day. After serving as a VP Education for 18 months with two different clubs, I thought it would be nice to have an online tool to help me keep a record of my speech and leadership projects completed. This online record would be maintained concurrently with my physical manuals.  One of the benefits of such a solution would be to show me in real time my progress toward my DTM.

mytlog dashboard
www.mytlog.tk

Before setting out to create a system that would help me in that way, I googled and the best results came from this page on the Toastmasters International website: http://www.toastmasters.org/software. As you notice on that page, all the tools available are geared toward club management as a whole. Therefore they are club-centric, rather than member-oriented.

After a few dozen hours of hacking, The Toastmaster’s Log emerged. It is currently a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and it already serves its intended purpose well. The system is available here: www.mytlog.com and I have used it for a few months. There could be dozens of more features added to make it more appealing and features-rich, but that will defeat my initial purpose of keeping focused on individual member’s need to complete record their progress towards their DTM, online.

If you are an active Toastmaster, you are welcome to sign up and start using the system, it is and shall remain free. If you are not a Toastmaster, you can use the application to record speeches you give. It is always good to have a log.

Is there any other tool you have used for similar logging purposes, what features do you feel you need most?