Toastmasters - Collected Wisdom

These are summaries of the collected wisdom of contributors to alt.toastmasters.org a Toastamsters newsgroup which operated between 1995 and 2008 and ToastmastersPrime, a Google group which commenced in 2008. This is not an official Toastmasters site, but is an edited collection of posts from the newsgroup and the Google group. These groups provide an unofficial means of communicating for an enthusiastic group of Toastmasters from throughout the world.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Project 5: Your body speaks

When thsi thread "Ideas for 4th speech in basic manual" was posted (April 200) , the assignment was number 4 - Show what you mean. Many of the ideas could equally be applied to project 8: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids

Kim started the thread with the request:
I was hoping I could get some ideas on what to do my 4th speech on. I am having a time coming up with a topic and am scheduled to do the speech pretty soon. Any suggestions at all are appreciated.

Bruce suggested describing a sporting activity. Perhaps talk about a tennis game, or some other sport that you watched or participated in. Or some activity that you will watch or participate in. One can use hand gestures to show how you or the other person performed the act.
For an Advanced Entertaining Speech, I described an event that Lee Trevino wrote about in a book about winning. For example, I bent over and pretended to pick up the ball from the hole, then looked at the audience and continued to speak.
On my 4th speech, I described my duties as a dessert cutter as a plebe (freshman) at West Point. I held up a package of fig newtons, counted the cookies and acted as if I were performing duties at table.
This can really be a fun speech because you get the change to put some acting, along with gestures into your speech.

JG advised:
Almost any topic will do since you should use gestures properly in all presentations. Most "Show What You Mean" presentations I've seen have, however, chosen a gesture-heavy or show-and-tell topic like beekeeping or quilting. I did mine on reading a book.

John F recalled:
In one that sticks out in my mind, a member showed us how to set up beer making equipment.

For Terry it lends itself to storytelling with all the action in body and facial expressions. Can you think of a story on yourself (as a child or teenager) or something you saw someone else do?

Eric asked "are you involved with a hobby or craft which you could demonstrate to your club?" I've seen these speeches on photography, doll-making, Irish dancing, racquetball, golf, proper use of a chainsaw; when I did it years ago I talked about my single experience with skydiving.

You could pretend you're a salesperson, trying to sell a product by demonstrating its uses to the audience. Find some mundane object at home to use for this, and be creative. Tell a tall tale, and use elaborate gestures to make your points, as in "...the fish that got away was THIS big".
You don't need props, though they help you to focus on the theme.

Jenny recalled:
When I did my fourth speech, I did a demonstration of one of the warm-up exercises that I had learned in my tai chi class, and showed the various muscle groups that were being used.

Something else that worked well was an "audience participation" bit, in which I taught an elementary tai chi movement to everyone in the audience. Since this was just an arm movement, they didn't have to take up time standing up and moving around, and it really helped "show what I meant".

From Rick:
Another type of speech, that works well with gestures, is a story. Stories are often about people doing things. Gestures can be used to help convey what people are doing.

Les reported:
My 'show what you mean' speech was well 'over the top' - I did a talk on gliding complete with a winch launch down the centre aisle together with a circuit round the room, approach and landing.
Oh yes - and there was a demonstration of my childhood tendency to rip of my clothes and imagine that I was Superman (to cries of "what a load of old kryptonite" from the audience).


In August 2002, the thread title became "Speech 4 help" when Dave's idea for this speech was to take a section from a film I saw as a young kid condensing it down to the 6 minutes. I can then use gestures to act out bits from the film, conveying key plot points.

Richard advised to remember to key the sweep and scope of the gestures to the size of the room and audience size since those gestures and body language are carrying the bulk of the message content.

In general big room and big audience then big and broad gestures. Small room then much more intimate and subtle gestures. If they are over large/broad they will distract rather than add to your message in most cases.


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