Toastmasters Project #7 – Reseach your Topic – We are what we eat

Being the rebel that I am, I did project #8 before projects #6 and #7, so here are my impressions on #7.
Research your Topic objectives are:

  • Collect information about your topic from numerous sources.
  • Carefully support your points and opinions with specific facts: examples and illustrations gathered through research.

All of this is something that can be plain boring, are just there so recite some figures or data someone else created? Kind of being a news host? I think here the goal, as with any speech, is to find something you’re passionate about, or something you have a good understanding, and de-construct it to its bare essentials and then support those essentials with data.

You might think this is very difficult. One of the greatest things is that you can support practically any idea with statistics, and is pretty easy to find studies, often contradictory among themselves, that will help you state your point.

My speech was about food and how the people I know an I relate to it. I called it “We are what we eat”. I liked to use the title as a punch line somewhere in the speech, but this time I felt like that was being way too corny and skipped it. It worked well, as I didn’t feel corny at all when saying it (as I used to, so I know I would probably never do that again).

Since my breakthrough with Project #5, I’m feeling confident and I did last night presenting this speech. I felt totally on control of the audience, my eye control got much better and hand gestures felt much more under control.

This is the feedback I’ve got:

  • You know how to make any topic fun, even weight loss and portion control is engaging and interesting. Excellent energy! Great body language and eye contact. Keep working grammar and language. Sometimes you stumble on certain words and phrases. Great speech!
  • Very good speech. You collected lots of information!
  • Very interesting – well researched – well engaged – very confident – enjoyed it!
  • I could see a big improvement in your confidence! Good job and nice attention to detail
  • Excellent presentation skills: I like the way you move. You did your research – well done. Funny – works well with the audience. Data- appropriate for the topic / objectives of the speech. Tips: good idea. Good ending – perfect for the audience. You barely used notes
  • Well researched / Well presented. Just a few grammatical errors.
  • Loved the way you also referred to your scale to provide statistics, not just american studies. Lightened your speech which already was full of humour. Well presented in what could have been dry and boring but never was. Well done.
  • Great speech. Very well researched. Good humour and well prepared. Keep it up.
  • Very informative and well researched. You provided good examples about plate and portion sizes. Some vocal variety would have made your speech more impactful. Overall, well done.

Overall I think I did a good job, I got the point of the project was that you will always find information to help you make your point more valid. Presenting your ideas through other’s data and figures can make it your presentation more powerful.

Toastmasters Project # 8 – What is Lomography?

I presented yesterday my speech #6 at Toastmasters here in Toronto. Project #8 (yes, I skipped two, but nobody says you have to give them in order) is about getting comfortable with visual aids. I think the key here is to use something else than your voice to present a subject.
I like to talk about Lomography, which is a passion of mine. So I added up 2 and 2 and gave a visual presentation about a visual subject like analog photography.
I felt really comfortable, I used not only a powerpoint (which you might think is old and boring) but also some cameras to take pictures of the audience during my presentation. That was fun! I think everybody was really engaged and some people even asked me more details about the subject after I finished.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here is my presentation for your enjoyment….

Edit: if you wanna read the speech, click here. That will open the presentation in an external window, from there you can see the presentation and read the presenter notes, which are the part of the speech that go with every slide.

I feel that I’m really improving a lot on presentation skills… let me tell you something: Toastmasters Works! As with anything in life, you get better the more times you do the same thing over and over again, and presentations are not different in any aspect. I also have to say that my new found confidence might have to be with getting to know better the people in our group. So I will have to find a way to put myself out of the comfort zone and deliver in front of total strangers.

Toastmasters Project #5 – Your Body Speaks – Just a Jump

This was it.

The moment when everything clicked. I got it. Call it “presentation enlightenment”, I felt like a Buddha under the Bodhi tree. Project #5 was the speech that changed everything for me. Several things conspired to get me here:

  • Project objectives and subject were well aligned right on target.
  • Presenting a personal experience, and a powerful one, is the best subject you can always choose. You won’t need any notes, you know your subject very well!
  • I had four other previous speeches to play with and understand what works and what doesn’t.

It is no coincidence at all that by the time you get to the halfway point of the Competent Communicators manual, you start to see improvements.

My speech was about bungee jumping. I told the audience how my experience was. The fact that bungee jumping is something that many people are frightened of (just like public speaking) helped me gain a lot of confidence and that was projected in the audience. I didn’t use notes at all, I was just telling my story so that made it easier. I felt how the audience got engaged in what I had to tell and I picked up that energy and gave it back, that created a very interesting and meaningful connection in the room.

Conclusions:

  • Always use personal experience to make your speech more vivid and easier to remember.
  • Be a clown! Make them laugh! Or at least, that is what makes me comfortable. Some other people might find that is easier for them to inspire something else than laughter, but in the end, inspire some kind of feeling into the audience. That is what will make your speech enjoyable and memorable.

Toastmaster’s Grammarian Role

Yesterday I have been filling the Grammarian role at the Toastmaster’s weekly meeting.
I had basically two responsibilities:

  • Choose the word of the day/week. This has to be an uncommon word, but that gives you opportunities to be used in daily language.
  • Pay attention to the use/misuse of grammar during the meeting. This is more an exercise of attention and listening.

As the meeting’s topic was going to be ‘Information/misinformation’, I decided on something that is somewhat related to the information age we live in today…


So when the meeting starts, I have to explain what is my role and present the word, its meaning and possible uses. I also encourage everybody to use it, and when someone does, we knock on the table to acknowledge it, cool!
For a meeting with 14 people, the word was used 8 times, which is about 50% “success rate”.

I was also paying close attention to the use of grammar during the speeches, and I was surprised to find that there were no major issues there, so I asked for a round of applause from the attendees to cheer up the spirit and give everybody a nice pat in the back.

Being grammarian was a very interesting experience, you have to pay close attention not only to the speeches but to everything said in the meeting. You also have to keep up with filling your report plus all the feedback for the speeches, a ‘plethora’ of things to do. It is a great opportunity to attend to the meeting but in a totally different role than the regular, and I encourage you to step up and fill the role at your local TM meeting!

Toastmasters Project #1 – The Ice Breaker

I just had my first Toastmasters speech! I am so happy about it. The first project is called “The Ice Breaker” and the objectives are to give a 4-6 minutes speech where you talk about yourself. The name of my speech was “Fears and Believes” and here it is.

I used some freewriting to come up with the ideas that become the pillars of the talk. Then I wrote down the speech on a pages document, split it into Keynote slides. I used a PDF version of the presentation on my iPad to help me with the notes. I have to say that having a PDF document on the iPad with a large font and just having to swipe the pages through is amazing!

Anyways, I gotta say that the feedback I have from my first speech is unbelievable to me. Could it be that I don’t suck at public speaking? After each speech, all of the attendees to the meeting are asked to give you some feedback and this is what I got.

  • Bernardo: I loved the topic! Great for a first speech, it was universal and still gave you a chance to talk about yourself. You seemed comfortable and your speech was obviously well rehearsed. Good job!
  • Very good expression. Reflexed. Well delivered. Good vocabulary
  • Loved your speech. You displayed a lot of human throughout. I learnt a few things about you – where you are from and your sense of travel and adventure. You showed a great presence upfront and your voice projected well. You also had good eye contact. The speech could have been better structured. But that did not take away from your speech. Overall, well done.
  • Bernie: you have a lovely command of the english language, selecting word to describe so much. You started out with your hands in your pockets — nerves? But you quickly withdrew them and looked more comfortable. Well done!
  • Bernardo: Very engaging topics discussed. Good eye contact with users. Excellent job, if you were reading from your notes, I could not tell.
  • Good speech, with confidence. Good job!
  • BernardoBernie :) Good eye contact, friendly and comfortable delivery
  • Bernie: AWESOME!!! Love the demonstration of voice variation. Try to use that throughout your speech. Slow down. More is less. Amazing first speech. You are a natural.

Obviously I was a nerve wreck before I started speaking and also the fact that I was speaker #2 didn’t help, seeing someone else give a great speech, because it makes you think about comparisons, and if you are going to be able to step up to that level.

Overall, I feel just great, it is wonderful to start this journey with the right foot!