Using Different Advanced Communication Manuals in Concert in #Toastmasters

This post contains a revelation that a DTM shared with me recently about how to approach doing advanced speeches from different manuals in the Advanced Communication series.

I’ve been in Toastmasters for two years now, and this is the year that I made the transition from doing speeches in the Competent Communicator manual to doing speeches from Advanced Communication Manuals. In April of this year, I got my Competent Communicator award and was looking forward to doing speeches from two different manuals in the Advanced Communication series (there are about a dozen in all).

I am a dual club member, with one of the clubs being my “home” club and another one that is more of a professional networking club, since it consists of project managers which is what my profession is now. So I picked two manuals, The Entertaining Speaker and Speaking to Inform. I figured I would do the entertaining speeches at my home club, and the informative speeches at my professional club.

That seemed to work out well, but then at the end of the year, I had a chance to do one of the speeches from The Entertaining Speaker at my professional club.  One of the Distinguished Toastmasters (DTMs) in our club saw that speech, and then subsequently saw the last one of the informative speeches I did out of the Speaking to Inform  manual. He said that the informative speech I did was “getting boring” in comparison to the other speech I had done previously.

This may seem harsh criticism, but he explained why he said it.   He said that I needed to establish the same rapport with the audience that I did during the entertaining speeches, so that people would connect with me and then be interested in the information I was presenting. If I did that, then my informative speeches would be entertaining as well, and therefore get the message across better.

Well, it’s about a dry subject, I rationalized, and at first I just thought that his criticism may not have been justified. But the more I thought about it, I realized that he was right.

I had divided my mind artificially between the entertaining speeches I did in the one club and the informative speeches I did in the other. With the entertaining speeches I was experimenting with different styles and I was really growing in terms of my delivery of a speech. On the other hand, with the informative speeches I was concerned about whether I was getting the information across, and not necessarily how I was delivering it.

What the DTM told me meant that I needed to tear up my artificial barriers in my mind and do a speech that was at once BOTH informative and entertaining. A dry, aloof style may be fine for a professor giving a lecture, but a speech is not the same as a lecture. You can use emotion to reach out to an audience and connect with them, and then since they care about you or relate to you in some way, whatever you tell them is going to have a bigger impact.

So having finished the Advanced Communicator Bronze by finishing both these manuals, I have vowed that in 2013, I was going to go for two different manuals, but I was not going to make the same mistake. I would use them TOGETHER to make ALL of my speeches better. I needed to connect to the art of telling a story so I picked the Storytelling Manual. And because of my growing interest in leadership, I picked Speeches by Management as my other manual.  But in expanding my ability to tell a story to the audience, I can then use that ability in my other manual to inspire the team members whom I am managing.

So my message for 2013 is, don’t work on one manual at a time. Use two different manuals and alternate doing speech projects from either one of them. Then see if the lessons you learned in one manual can’t teach you a thing or two in doing the speeches for the other manual.


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