A speech contest can spring surprises on the contestant. For example a whole chunk of material might evaporate from your memory (I should know that), you might draw a blank, the audience might laugh longer than you anticipated (if you did at all) or your points might rearrange themselves.
Therefore use your established word rate to determine how many words you require in order to end your speech with a minute to spare. For example if the contest requires a five to seven minute speech, such that your talk should not exceed seven minutes thirty seconds, try to end at six minutes thirty seconds. This way you have a buffer of one minute.
Always provide something specific the audience can do almost immediately. It is also helpful to tell the “how to do it” plus the benefits of doing it and repercussions of not doing it. Most speakers tend to leave this take home to the end. It does not have to be so. You can keep repeating it throughout the speech so that it sinks in. No matter how inspiring your message, every audience appreciates learning a tangible way they can actually apply what they have learned to their own situations. Inspiration is great, but application is everything.
When fear is conquered, we are propelled into a life with larger ambitions. Says Michael Landrum.
What if it is not conquered?
Some people join Toastmasters and immediately after paying their membership dues and receiving their new member kit something seems to yield and they disappear never to be seen in a Toastmasters club again. Why is this? No empirical data exists to explain this so it remains a matter of conjecture. Here is my take:
- They fail to master enough courage to stand behind the lectern and deliver their first (three and half minute formal) speech. They therefore fail to propel into larger ambitions of delivering a 5 minutes speech and later 10 minute, 15 minutes and 20 minutes.
- After reading through the objectives it suddenly dawns on one that joining the club is not sufficient antidote to the fear of public speaking. You actually need to prepare a speech and deliver it. In sports there is a saying “no pain no gain”. The same goes for Toastmasters public speaking program. If it is not causing you pain and discomfort then you are doing your usual and not gaining anything at all.
- Some feel it is difficult and too much effort. To these there is only one answer. If it wasn’t difficult and terrifying then everyone would be to do it and then you would be no different from everyone else. It is because it requires courage that it becomes so fulfilling once you manage do it.