4 things that make a speech great

Toastmasters International Competent Communication Manual

After a hiatus of 3 years I’ve started attending Toastmasters meetings again. It’s good to be back behind the lectern. It was a good time to go back because I’ve recently being reminded of why I joined Toastmasters. I first heard the Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak when I was at university. He was mesmerising and right there and then I decided to conquer my fear of speaking in front of an audience.

Four speeches have touched me in the past few weeks. Three I saw live, the other on TV. The important thing about crafting a speech is that it has to tell a story. These 4 speeches all told a story, each in a different way. And who doesn’t like reading or listening to stories? I certainly do. Below I highlight the 4 things that in my opinion make a speech great.

1. A speech has got to be personal 

In December, like many South Africans, I attended a memorial for Madiba, the one at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory in Houghton. The Archbishop was present and he gave a beautiful speech, from the heart, about Madiba. In his unique and inimitable way he weaved humour and poignant memories of Madiba through his natural gift of storytelling. He told us personal stories of him and Madiba, he involved the audience and made those personal memories also our personal memories.

2. A speech has got to inspire the audience (goosebumps) 

In December we also  had the official memorial for Madiba at the FNB stadium. I didn’t attend that one. I watched parts of it on TV, and dropped all that I was doing to see President Barak Obama deliver his speech, one that will surely go down as one of the great speeches in history. How fitting that it was at Madiba’s funeral. Parts of it gave me goosebumps and inspired me to aspire to more.  “And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better. He speaks to what is best inside us. After this great liberator is laid to rest; when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength – for his largeness of spirit – somewhere inside ourselves.” Read the full speech here.

3. A speech has got to take us on a journey for a “call to action” – personal or otherwise

One of the advanced speeches I heard this week told a beautifully crafted story of a man who in order to overcome a poor childhood, became an insular adult. Too late he realised the importance of family and friends. What was great about this speech was that we were taken on a journey as each step of the story unfolded. Instinctively we knew how the story would end but we wanted to see how we would be led there.

4. A speech has got to be entertaining

I had the pleasure of evaluating only the second speech of a new Toastmaster. I was in awe as this speaker faced her fear of public speaking, bravely stood behind the lectern and promptly proceeded to have the audience in stitches with one of the funniest speeches I’ve heard in a while. We were taken on a roller-coaster ride of funniness, with her vivid word pictures I had a whole comedy movie playing in my mind. A speech doesn’t have to be funny to be entertaining, although it certainly helps. Experimenting with comedy is only one way to make a speech entertaining.

As you can see from the above points, one doesn’t have to be famous or a head of state to deliver a great speech. Just keep the above 4 points in mind and you’ll be fine. Or you can join Toastmasters.

I haven’t been asked or paid to write this post. I’m just a passionate Toastmaster whose life has been enriched by participating in the communication and leadership tracks it offers. Links to the sites of the clubs I attended:

Alberton Toastmasters club, Alberton 5031/74

Goldreef Toastmasters club, Glenvista 8850/74

Talk with Purpose Toastmasters club, Melrose Arch 2906099/74

Zero to Hero Blogger Intro Post: The big Y!

I’ve decided to kick my blog back into gear by doing the Zero to Hero Blogger challenge, hence the fancy new badge on the right! It started on the 1st of January but I only saw it a few days ago, so I’m going back and doing each challenge from day 1.

When I started this blog it was to chart my travels. I did a fair amount of traveling a few of years ago, but not lately. I must say that I miss traveling. I wish I had the money to travel at will. With the drop in my travels, so did my blogging. Not blogging eventually got to be a habit, even when I DID travel!

Day 1 of the challenge is to introduce myself. When I started Wide Eyed in Wonder back in January of 2012 I didn’t write a “Why am I blogging? post”. Even though I have an About Me page, I certainly didn’t do a proper introduction as to the Y of this blog and Y you should read my blog. I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, so Y should you read mine?

So here is my intro…

I keep a personal journal. It’s personal and therapeutic in a different way. When I’ve dealt with what drove me to write in the journal, I tear the pages and burn them as a symbol of closure. Blogging serves a different purpose. There’s something about seeing my writing in print, published, even if it’s self-published. This is the future. Gone are the days of an elite group of people whose books got published, read in schools and analysed at ‘varsity. There is still room for that, sure. But how do we know that there aren’t Shakespeares, Donnes and Dickens’s out there who just can’t get published?

What will I write about? Well, I will write about traveling, when I travel. Seeing new things. Seeing new things with new eyes and wide eyed wonder. Experiencing new things with wide eyed wonder. I’m not the type of blogger that writes about their day or what made them upset. I don’t have kids so I’m not a Mommy-blogger which has huge audiences out there (I confess to enjoying reading Mommy-blogs though :-)). I don’t get invites to openings and shows, so I can’t categorise myself as a Lifestyle-blogger. This is a personal blog, it will grow and evolve as I grow and evolve. I love writing. I love delivering speeches, talks and presentations. Maybe I’ll test some of these on this blog. I love humour and entertaining people. I hope to develop these writing skills here.

I would love to connect with like-minded people who also love writing and reading and seeing the funny side of life. It’s never a good idea to take oneself too seriously. I’d also love to connect with fellow Toastmasters. I’ve been a Toastmaster for many years and there’s nothing better than the adrenalin rush of standing in front of an audience and delivering a speech. Some people bungee-jump or sky-dive for their adrenalin kicks. I speak in public.

If I blog successfully throughout 2014, what do I hope to accomplish? Fame and fortune! A publishing deal! My own talk show! Readers that will actually leave me comments. Seriously though…I want to tell my story; I want to tell many stories; I’d like to start conversations and get to know other people’s stories as well.

Ultimately, with this challenge I want to make blogging a habit once again!