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This page is for tips on the first ten modules in the Competent Communication Manual. More on improving effectiveness and other hints for speaking are elsewhere.

Tips for running the meeting (the role of Toastmaster, Table Topics master, etc) are discussed elsewhere. See the main page for details or for speaking tips and hints or for role descriptions. There are also quotations.

For the overview of each assignment, please consult the relevant Toastmasters manual.


Assignment #1: The Ice Breaker Edit

Tips: This is a 4-6 minute speech, so you don't have very much time to say everything you might want to say. Instead you can only focus on a few highlights.

Is there a particular subject that you can speak passionately about?

  • sports
  • hobbies
  • community service
  • your career
  • your family
  • your aspirations

When you find a subject, think of three different short stories that you can speak about on that subject. Telling personal stories is easy for many people to present and the audience tends to love hearing them. For example, if you like to camp outdoors, you might have one story about camping with your parents, a second story about camping as a single adult, and a third story about a camping trip with your spouse and kids. The focus is on camping but it opens the opportunity to talk a little about where you grew up, what your family was like growing up, what you aspirations were as a young adult, and what your current situation is.

A recommended format is the five-paragraph speech. The speech would consist of an introduction of how important outdoor camping is to understanding who you are, three stories with a short transition between them, and then end with a conclusion which sums up your experiences. You could also give the club a short preview of what else they might find out about you in future speeches.

To help come up with three stories you can look at the subject versus time, the subject from three different perspectives, or the subject from three different results, etc.

  • before, during, after
  • in the past, in the present, in the future
  • what my father says, what I say, what my son says
  • what I wanted, what my boss wanted, what the customer wanted
  • the first time I failed miserably, the second time I almost succeeded, the third time I was successful.

Alternately you could find three different stories that are unrelated except they involve you. Then look for a theme you can use to glue the three stories together. For example, a close relationship with a family member, a career highlight, and overcoming an loss or disability. The glue may be simply what leads you to tell those three stories in particular.

Advanced Tip: When talking about a place or other people in your speech such a your family, refer to them by name. This helps the audience connect with you and makes you seem much more approachable and personable. It also helps the audience to visualize your speech. For example, instead of "My husband" say "My husband, Dan." Instead of "I grew up on a farm." say "I grew up on a farm in Haxtun, Colorado." To further help them visualize with your speech you could include a description. "My husband Dan, is four foot eleven inches tall." "Haxtun, Colorado is on the dry plains near the north-east corner of the state."

Good Luck!

Assignment #2: Organize Your Speech Edit

Tips: Five-paragraph speeches work well for this assignment: an opening, 3 points, and a conclusion. Oftentimes people describe a process. For example, preparing your favorite meal. What ingredients would you buy, how would you prepare the food, how would you cook the food, and how would you present the food.

If you can write an organized speech but can't deliver one, here are a couple of mnemonic devices to help you remember what you were going to say.

A mnemonic is a device, such as a formula or rhyme, used as an aid in remembering. Such as SOAR is a mnemonic used to do an particular type of speech evaluation by concentrating on Strengths, Objectives, Areas to Improve, and Reasons to Return. Make you your own mnemonic to remember your key points.

Another mnemonic device is a visualization technique. Imagine that you are walking from room to room in the place were you live. In each room is an object that represents that key concept. For example, you might start in the kitchen and in the kitchen is Abraham Lincoln, because you want to give an quote from Abraham Lincoln. The next room is the Dining Room and you imagine a picture on the wall of a horse to remember a story about horse-back riding. When you give your speech you imagine moving from one room to the next and seeing the object that is associated with a point in your speech.

Assignment #3: Get To The Point Edit

Assignment #4: How To Say It Edit

Assignment #5: Your Body SpeaksEdit

Assignment #6: Vocal VarietyEdit

Assignment #7: Research Your TopicEdit

Assignment #8: Get Comfortable With Visual AidsEdit

Assignment #9: Persuade With PowerEdit

Assignment #10: Inspire Your Audience Edit

There are also tips on making your speeches more effective.

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