Toastmasters - Collected Wisdom

These are summaries of the collected wisdom of contributors to 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.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Workshop: Preparing a manual speech

In March 2007, Betsy was in a club where it is like pulling teeth to convince people to give speeches, but everyone likes to do table topics.

She has thought about holding a pizza party table topics meeting!people can opt to do a traditional table topic or a "long" table topic (must speak at least 4.5 minutes).

I thought I would list 5 fun questions for these longer table topics on the> agenda, so people would have a little bit of time to prepare, even though the speeches would still be impromptu.

At the end of the meeting, I would announce a big surprise--I had quietly evaluated all of the longer table topics, and would now be> giving the evaluations, so that the speeches could count toward manual credit.

I replied:

My concern with this is that it moves away from the intent of the CC manual - prepare the speech by addressing the content of the assignment.

I also believe strongly in discussing personal objectives with the evaluator in advance of giving the speech, although this is a personal preference rather than a program requirement.As an alternative, how about running a workshop on how to give a manual speech.

Nominate the five topics, as you intended, but then split the club into pairs - the evaluator and the speaker come up with ideas together. The evaluator acts as a mentor, in a way. You could have some resource articles associated with the topics to help them with content. Downloaded web pages would be good, because it introduces the concept of researching your content.Maybe program a few of the speakers on the night of the workshop, the rest at successive meetings. That way you have half of the members with prepared speeches, and hopefully have demonstrated that preparing speeches is a lot easier than they thought.

Focus the workshop on one of the more general assignments - Get organized or Apply your skills (I am looking at an old manual - the titles may have changed)Spend about 10 minutes taking the assignment apart - the objectives, the text, the evaluation guide then move into pairs for thirty minutes.You or a couple of workshop leaders could move around and offer assistance to people who seem to be getting stuck.This would take about an hour, including time for the speeches and evaluations.

Good luck. As always, I admire your enthusiasm and creativity.

I have posted a sample workshop outline below;

Workshop: Preparing a Manual Speech

Do your club members have difficulty preparing manual speeches? Do you have a number of members working their way through the Competent Communicator manual? Do you have one or more members who are looking for something more from the program than just manual speeches – perhaps they would like to run a workshop?
In this article, John Sleigh outlines a one hour workshop that could help meet all of these needs.


To provide Toastmasters members with guidance and assistance to gain full value from their manuals.
To encourage more experienced members to take on a mentoring role

The workshop starts with a five to seven minute outline of a typical manual assignment.

Then members pair off – one as speaker, the other as evaluator, mentor, sounding board. The speakers prepare a speech on one of the nominated topics by referring to the manual and the resource materials that are available.

To close the workshop, volunteers (as many as time allows) deliver their speeches and are evaluated by their workshop partner – mentor. Other speakers are programmed for subsequent meetings.

Open the seminar
10 minutes
Give a speech about how you have found the manual valuable as a way to prepare your speeches. Select a manual assignment to speak about and explain that they will be working on this assignment later. Any assignment in the CC manual is suitable, however in this sample workshop I have chosen Organize Your Speech. In preparation for speech contests, Research Your Topic, Persuade with Power or Inspire Your Audience may be more appropriate as they suit the speaker who has already completed 6 speeches.

Don’t read the assignment to the club, rather use statistics, testimony, examples, stories or anecdotes, Visual aids and Facts as Assignment 2, Organize Your Speech suggests. Yes, this is a manual speech that demonstrates that you can apply what you are asking others to do.
Start with an outline of the structure of all speeches in all of the manuals – objectives, executive summary, assignment content, “Your Assignment” summary and the evaluation guide.

Then outline the five topics that you have selected, using the guide in the assignment. For assignment 2, the manual recommends
· Discussions you've had with friends or coworkers
· Magazine or newspapers articles that attracted your interest
· Your expertise on certain topics - real estate, writing, personal computers, etc.
· Everyday experiences - shopping, commuting, family relationships.

For the purposes of the workshop, it will be better if the topics are well known to the members.

You might pick one or two current controversial local or national issues on which they may choose to present a speech in favor, one against or one showing both sides of the argument.

Add one or two generic topics – raising children, living with teenagers, work-life balance, commuting and transport, tourism or education are often subjects that it easy to find resources for and which most members will have something to say. You might suggest a past, present, future approach – either talk about the history of the topic, or what it was like in a particular era, for history. One aspect of the current status for the present and either one suggested strategy or vision for the future. Try not to be too specific with the topic, to allow the members to tailor it to their knowledge.

You may also pick one or two Toastmasters or communicators topics. Perhaps leadership falls in here too. What I hope to gain or what I have gained from Toastmasters could be options. What I like to hear in a speech, what makes me follow a leader or the most impressive speaker or leader I have seen, heard or met could be an interesting topic for many members.

Then point out the features of the assignment, without reading or explaining them. Show how Assignment 2 deals with topic selection, preparing an outline, opening body and conclusion, but don’t explain the content. This would be outside the scope of a five to seven minute speech

Assign workshop pairs
Members will work in a pair – speaker and evaluator-mentor. You may assign these based on experience or seek volunteers. The choice should be based on your knowledge of the club.

Members may work with their normal club mentor, particularly if you want to reinforce this aspect of the Toastmasters program. Alternatively you may assign other members to provide an alternative learning experience. Avoid assigning all of the more experienced members as mentor – evaluators. Mix them around a bit. Some of the newer members may learn more by watching the experienced members prepare, and all members will have valuable insights, irrespective of the lengthy of their membership.

Provide resource material
Normally members will have access to their own resource material to prepare their speeches. In the workshop setting they can still use their own knowledge and opinions, but these can be enhanced by resource material that you provide. Have a selection of relevant web page downloads or news articles that the pairs can use to add the statistics, testimony, examples, stories or anecdotes, visual aids and facts the assignment recommends. You don’t need a copy of each item for each member. Just have a selection available so that they can use them to research their topic.

Prepare the speech
30 – 45 minutes
In pairs, members prepare a speech on one of the topics using the guidelines provided in the assignment.
One member of the pair will be the speaker. The other will be the mentor –evaluator.

Deliver selected speeches
5 – 7 minutes each
A selected number of members deliver their newly prepared speeches, as ina normal club meeting.

Speakers are evaluated, as in a normal club meeting.

Workshop review
Members are asked to review the workshop. The form on the next page can be used for this. It may also be useful to evaluate the seminar using an assignment from an advanced manual.


Feedback form

Preparing a Manual Speech


1. Was the information valuable to you

Useful Usable Useless

2. Was the presenter clear, and effective communicator and easy to understand

Useful Usable Useless

3. Was the content relevant to the topic

Useful Usable Useless

4. Was the time allotted suitable for the subject covered

Useful Usable Useless

5. Was appropriate use made of presentation aids and techniques to promote understanding

Useful Usable Useless

6. What was your overall level of satisfaction with the workshop?

Useful Usable Useless

Which information will you use first? When? How?

How can we make this better?

Please write any additional comments on the back of this page.

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