HubSpot Toastmasters Blog

   

How to pick a memorable speech topic

Posted by Loree McDonald

Mar 17, 2014, 2:30 PM

So it's the week of your Toastmasters speech - and the only reason you remembered is because your mentor ping-ed you on HipChat and asked if you wanted to rehearse and get some feedback... Great! You're excited, you've been waiting, and now you have no idea how to pull it all together...

You begin frantically searching YouTube and Googling "Toastmasters Speech" and hoping someone has posted something revolutionary that will blow your audience away.

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But that's not you - yes the interpretation on how the world would be if the black plague hadn't hit Europe is interesting, and sure you believe confidence and body language is important - but you're going to have to do hours of research to put this all together... and then memorizing those facts? Ugh. Skip that please.

Meanwhile... you've come onto some article on BuzzFeed about how Jennifer Lawrence is the most graceful clumsy celebrity. Have they already forgotten miss Bridget Jones? Well I guess she was a character.

 ....Anyway... I wish I could just present about BuzzFeed....

Wait - YOU CAN!

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That's the beauty of the Toastmasters program - you can literally speak about anything (use good judgment) and use the manual as a structure for planning out your speech and the objectives you want to hit.

The idea within Toastmasters is to deliver speeches that are passionate and informative and compelling. If you're passionate about BuzzFeed, tell us! If you know a ton about bioluminescent creatures - share what you know! If you have a compelling story about your gluten-free adventure, bring it on.

 

Be yourself. Be confident.And take some risks!
Some of the most memorable speeches come from a little risk taking. Why not share? 

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Learn how to speak well in 5 easy steps

Posted by Loree McDonald

Jan 6, 2014, 1:30 PM

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1) Just do it

You will never improve unless you get out there and practice! Speaking in team meetings, during events, and with your peers are great ways to gain some confidence. The opportunity to speak in front of a large group doesn't always present itself, but this is why we have Toastmasters meetings with several varieties of speaking roles (planned, improvised, instructional, anecdotal) - so that you can practice in a secure but realistic environment. 

2) Speak about something you know about 

The best speeches are about topics the speaker knows about - topics that they are passionate about sharing with others on topics in which they want to express their opinion. It can be a process you perfected, something job-related you have spent some time doing, or something you really think is important for others to take note of in their perspective. 

3) Don't fill the silence with sound

A speaker's biggest weakness is filling the silence between points with unnecessary transitional words like "ah," "um," "so," "and then," "like," etc. The use of these words will weaken your presence in front of others and will distract from your real take-away. If you made a strong argument, let that moment sit in the air before diving into your next talking point. This is a good practice exercise in normal conversation with peers or clients.

4) Ask for feedback from a peer or leader

Once you have given a speech or spoken in front of a group, going to a peer or leader and asking for feedback is a great way to hone in on your potential weaknesses. For example, I would suggest saying: "Hey I am working on speaking in front of others, but I'd love to hear how I came across to the group when I just spoke. Was there anything in there you thought was something I could improve on?" Toastmasters is a great way to do this because the actual structure of the meeting allows your peers to provide timely and constructive feedback in a safe setting.

5) Practice what you feedback you received 

Once you've spoken and received any feedback (including feedback you give yourself), pay attention to when you repeat these mistakes. If you're a transition-word enthusiast (like myself) pay attention to how often you use these words when talking to customers or peers. If you wander around when speaking, try finding a power-stance that really works with any future speeches you might give. If you tend to not make eye-contact enough, work on this when in normal conversation with peers. 

 

There are so many great ways to improve during our meetings as well as in normal day-to-day situations, you just have to realize that "the world is a stage" and anytime you're speaking - it should be speaking to be heard. Feel free to contact any of the ToastSpot officers for more information on getting a mentor to help you in your journey! 

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A Response to a Well Thought-Out Excuse

Posted by Loree McDonald

Sep 3, 2013, 9:00 AM

Here's the thing - I know you're busy.

I know that dedicating just one more hour a week to something sounds like it's one more hour a week of time you'd rather be sitting at home eating dinner. One more hour a week of time you could be talking to your best friend. One more hour a week at the gym.

I know - trust me.

However let's look at the facts here:

  • You're smart - wicked smaht in fact
  • You're already quite successful 
  • You know how to speak in front of people
  • You are always on point and never have a bad interaction

Wait - no that last one isn't quite right... I mean, sometimes you do have a bad interaction.
Or they just really seem to not be engaged when you're talking to them.
Or you will stutter over a fact and the person will totally call you on it.
Or when you make a point and everyone just looks at you and there's that super awkward pause.
Ugh don't you hate that? 

Yes. I do hate that. 

You know what helps? Being terrified.

Okay well maybe not terrified.

But when you put yourself out there to speak in front of a group of people, and sometimes have to come up with something in-the-moment, you get much better at talking to just one person... especially when you have to come up with something in-the-moment.

Public Speaking is a skill that you can take to a place like Inbound where you're talking in front of hundreds (if not thousands) of people. It's also a skill you can take to your team meetings - when you have an idea on how to fix the problem at hand and you really need to create buy-in. It's even a skill you take when speaking to just one person and you want to appear calm and confident.

Being a strong speaker makes you look smart, confident, and will grant you access into really awesome opportunities. You could be sent to speak at a HubSpot event in another city, you could be asked to speak at one of our conferences, you could be given extra leadership responsibilities within your team.

Alright, alright. So you're on board.

Great.

...

Now what?

Well this whole Toastmasters thing - that's actually the whole idea. This organization was created to help you get better at public speaking and become a better leader.

So quit making excuses, grab a beer, and meet with us this Thursday at 6:00pm in Benioff. It's an hour of time where you get to hear people speak, you get to laugh at Improv exercises, and you will even get to meet some new HubSpotters from all different departments (last one is optional - feel free to sit there awkwardly by yourself). 

 

We meet every other week - so check out the calendar here: Meeting Calendar  

 

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About the ToastSpot Blog

Welcome to the ToastSpot blog!

Here you can find articles on:

  • How to get the most out of Toastmasters
  • Examples of awesome speeches
  • Announcements about upcoming events
  • How to come up with ideas for your next speech
  • Highlights from recent meetings, including some of the entertaining and inspiring speeches from our members

Have requests? Reach out to us - we'd love to know what YOU want to read about. We also welcome guest bloggers - feel free to come to us with suggestions for your next article.

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