My second speech was called Dangeorus Heigths. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to challenge some cultural assumptions about high heels, present the health risks associated with them and and talk about their history.
In Toastmasters the objectives of the second project are the following:
Speak for 5-7 minutes.
Create a strong opening and conclusion.
Select an appropriate outline which allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech.
Make your message clear, with supporting material directly contributing to that message.
Use appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another.
From the manual I learned a very useful technique to organize information that I had never used before and I think I’ll use it from now on because it helped me solve one of my biggest challenges as a communicator: there is so much I want to say that it is really quite a challenge to decide what the main point will have to be.
The preparation technique consist in writing your main idea as a key word or short sentence on a card. Then you can develop the idea on the other side of the card. What I did in addition to this was to add a word on the corner classifying the idea developed on the card as INTRO, CONCLUSION, HISTORY, SYMBOLISM, HEALTH.
Once I got to writing down my outline the cards were very helpful because I could place them and move them according to the classification I had made. this allowed me to notice that if some information was repetitive or if it didn’t really support the main thread.
When I got to the club meeting, I made sure I arrived a bit early so I could place my visual aids under the lectern. I learned from the first speech
that it is not a good idea to come up when you are called and waste precious time and attention shuffling papers around.
I was very nervous, as usual, but I’ve been learning how to control myself. I was shaking at first but I managed to stop and breathe, smile and get talking!
The feedback I got from the club was wonderful although I must say it is not all objective, and if you are sensitive to criticism, like I am, you’ll have to learn how not to take it personal. After all, the point of joining Toastmasters is to polish your public speaking skills, and you have to consider your audience’s perceptions of what you say and how you say it. Overall, the club noticed my improvement in my use of notes (I didn’t use tham at all, I memorized the whole thing!), visual aids and body language; they suggested I need to speak louder, smile more often and add vocal variety.
It took me a few days to recover from the stress of preparing and the adrenalin from delivering, but I finally feel ready to start preparing project number three.