Archive for the ‘Speaking’ Category

The Power of Stories

I was reminded of how powerful a story can be when trying to send a message yesterday during a conference. We had a breakout educational session  during the conference that focused on storytelling and it’s power for convincing someone of something.

We got a chance to practice this, by formulating a message with three supporting points and a story to highlight your personal experience of this.

I didn’t get a chance to use mine, but my message was to try Toastmasters. My story was going to be the time that I went to a U-M interview for a job I thought I was a shoo-in for and didn’t prepare. I froze during a question and never quite recovered from it. It sunk the whole interview and I didn’t get the job.

I joined Toastmaster shortly thereafter and improved on my speaking skills to be able to think quickly on my feet.

I improved my skills and got the same job a few years later with a stellar interview.

This just reemphasized the importance for me to always include a short story to get an important point across, in all interactions.

Return to Toastmasters

I haven’t been in awhile, until last night. I always miss it when I don’t go and I feel my skills suffer as a result. The only problem is the 2 hour weekly commitment. Now that Jess is out of the house more and not the only one watching kids, I don’t feel as guilty coming  home from work and immediately leaving after dinner on Wednesdays.

I volunteered on the spot to give a speech evaluation to a newer member who gave a fantastic speech on failure. I actually won the best evaluation award for the night, which was fun. His speech reminded me of the Rejection Proof book by Jia Jiang which was so enlightening as to why we are afraid of failing and being rejected. We don’t know what’s going to happen and we need to expect and practice it.

I still have a goal to complete the Distinguished Toastmaster achievement, so I need to get back into what is involved. I think I have 20 more speeches to give!

Public Speaking Progress

Last night, I gave a speech at Toastmasters. The project was called Persuasive Speaking – Addressing the Opposition. You are supposed to pick a controversial topic and make your pitch the audience to consider your side. I didn’t have any trouble thinking of what I’d speak about: becoming vegan.

All I did was tell my story, the information I came across, in what order and the skepticism I felt over the years as I transitioned. I felt very comfortable giving this speech – it felt natural.

I went too long, my mistake for not timing myself prior, so I was not considered for best speech.  Read On…

Daylight Saving Time

We just went through ‘fall back’ last night. We got an extra hour of sleep but it’s not all is cracked up to be.

It’s now pitch black outside at 6:30pm, so it feels much later. We also have to adjust our internal clocks. It’s such an antiquated practice, I think we should get rid of it. Read On…

Getting Uncomfortable

Yesterday, I got to speak to about 30 people at work that I had never met before. I prepared 7 slides to tell them about what I did and I think it went rather well. I can attribute my increased confidence and calm directly to Toastmasters and my years of practicing there.

Later on in the evening, I attended the weekly Toastmasters meeting. I had no role in the meeting, but when I arrived, I found out both scheduled speakers had canceled. This is usually an opportunity for people to jump in, although few rarely do.

The suggestions to the club is that everybody should have a “spare speech” ready to go – one they’ve given before and can give on a moments notice.

This is not followed usually, but I saw this as another chance to  get uncomfortable. Read On…

My Path

I got a chance to sit down with two engineering students at U-M today and talk about their paths in school and eventual career. It gave me a chance to distill my own path  and try and apply what lessons I’ve learned to their situations.

First, I would have loved to have these discussions when I was a student – I felt equally lost as to what career options were available to me as these young men I spoke with today.

Second, I appreciated the chance to give of my own time to potentially help these guys understand their current path and maybe help make future decisions. Read On…

Toastmasters

I went to our Toastmasters club meeting last night and had a great time. It’s always something I still feel a little bit of hesitation attending, but always have a great time and learn a lot.

Our club is thriving with new members signing up at every meeting. Last night, our club president gave a moving speech about a loss in the family and then how he became an ordained buddhist monk. It was a touching story that I couldn’t have heard anywhere else.

Our table topics (that’s the impromptu portion where everybody gets to speak) was the little sayings that appear at the top of a teabag, aka banal platitudes.

Mine was “An attitude of gratitude brings opportunity.” I agreed with this notion and spoke about how we are working on learning about gratitude with my son. Read On…

Listening

We have lost the ability to listen. Not just to hear, but to intentionally hear something and receive it.

I notice this in meetings and in conversations. 99% of us are just waiting for our turn to yell. And when we’re done yelling, the next person gets a chance to yell. Sometimes we all yell at the same time.

I don’t always mean literally yelling, but that’s what it feels like. We speak with nobody actually processing what we’re saying. Read On…

Peak-End Rule

When you leave a movie, when you finish watching a talk, maybe even after a meeting, do you give that a little rating to yourself? “That was great”, “I wouldn’t do that again” or “what a waste of time”.

I recently heard about this from a podcast. It can help you tailor your speeches, videos, articles or anything you do that is meant to be consumed or observed by others. It’s called the Peak-End Rule: Read On…

Former Toastmasters President

I just concluded one year of being the President of my local Toastmasters club.

Toastmasters is a volunteer organization focused on helping people learn to lead and speak publicly. There are thousands of clubs all around the world. The institution itself has been around for nearly 100 years.

I found Toastmaster after a failure of an interview where my Read On…