Photo taken during one of my last TM meetings with an Avengers-theme. A theme close to the hearts of most TM members – very relatable, very personal.
The goal of a Toastmasters Club is to help its members improve their skills in public speaking. And how do we do that? First, we help them, sometimes forcefully and dreadfully, practice thinking and speaking spontaneously through our Table topics sessions. And second, the seasoned and well-peppered with experience members of the Club provide instantaneous feedback so the young members can improve their succeeding stints.
And that’s all very helpful, but for most regular members the most challenging and sometimes probably the most daunting responsibility is to prepare and craft a speech that follows your norm especially if your VP for Education is already prodding you to make one.
In my case, I like delivering speeches because I like telling stories. And today I’d like to share with you how I craft my speeches and I’ll leave you with an acronym of TMC which stands not for Toastmasters Club but for the 3 things that I always remember when crafting a speech – Topic, Manual and Content
First is topic. A good speech for me hinges on the topic that you choose. And choosing a topic is the most difficult stage in crafting a speech. As for me, there are two sources that are funding my “topic bank” – 1. my recent personal experience (say, the latest movie I watched, the latest book I’ve read, the latest place that I visited, the latest game that I played). And for some of you who might have already listened to some of my speeches, you know that I have already talked about Pokémon Go (a game that I’m playing), Mr. and Mrs. Cruz or Les Miserables (movies that I watched) and Lorien Legacies, Tuesdays with Morrie and Stupid is Forever (books that I’ve read). The other source of funding for my “topic bank” is topics that you love sharing (like for me I love poetry, I love adventures, I love love, I love work, I love Toastmasters). You’ll never go wrong if you talk about the things that you love.
Now if you have already chosen a topic, then matched it with you manual. Say your manual is Research your topic and your topic is your latest travel, then research about the place you’ve travelled and what people can see and do when they get there. If your manual is about Vocal Variety then tell your story with added dialogues in it. You know how we make kwento to our friends; sometimes we mimic someone else’s voice and mannerism just to add more color to your kwento. That’s basically the same as public speaking; you just make kwento to a larger crowd. Just imagine that the crowd is all your friends. If your manual is about Persuading with Power and your topic is about your family or your kid’s achievement (you see, you can always use TM to brag about such things), then you provide a call to action as to why it is important to always be present through your child’s learning or something like that.
Last is Content. You have your topic; you know how to incorporate it in your manual. Then now you develop the content and structure of your speech. A speech has an opening, a body and a closing. What I do is I write the speech without any structure at all. And then I re-read and re-write, and re-read and re-write until I could come up with a final version. 70% of my speech is my body this is the part where I re-read and re-write most of the time. And then I’ll put a good opening, I’ll probably start with a question or find a good quote or a good one to two liner dialogue from my story. Again, if you’re making kwento to your friends, you start with “Uy, alam nyo ba?” and then people will start lending you their ears, right? So that’s basically the purpose of a good opening, to catch people’s attention. A good closing on the other hand is to summarize your story and provide a call to action. Making kwento again, how do you close your story? You usually say, “So, next time ha…”
Easy, right? Just remember TMC – Topic, Manual, and Content. You get your topic from your topic bank which you fund by your experiences and I’m pretty sure you have lots. Then you trim your topic down based on the manual that you will be doing and then write your speech, re-read and re-write until you come up with a piece that you are satisfied with. It actually doesn’t end there because you still have to deliver it using your gestures, your vocals, and your stage presence but that’s a different topic all together. So my fellow Toastmasters and friends get your pens and papers or for some open your Microsoft Word and write or type away your stories and craft them into speeches. Take it to heart, you’ll never go wrong.