When I was a kid I received a new erector set for Christmas one year. It was cool because it had all the pieces I needed to create all sorts of things. I was able to create buildings, cars, and even powered toys. It was so cool because it had everything that I needed in one package. It was a complete kit!
I have a bright and shiny Success Kit for you. It has 12 pieces that can help you become a better communicator. The neat thing… it’s all here. It’s a proven package and thousands of people from all over the world have found success with it. It doesn’t cost much (under a $100) and it takes only a year to complete. Each piece of the kit takes a month to finish and the results can change your life.
The name of the kit is Toastmasters and it comes in a large white envelope. Let’s open it up and see what’s inside. As we open the envelope we see that there is a book called the Communication and Leadership manual. It has 10 speech projects in it and it will be the main focus of our success program. We also have a membership certificate to Toastmasters International and some smaller pamphlets on other aspects of the program. It looks interesting!
Let’s break the program down month by month and see how it works.
Month One: You join a Toastmasters club in your local area. The new member kit will come by mail in about one week. The focus of this first month in Toastmasters is to get to know other members and become an active participant in club activities. The habit that you want to develop during this first month is the “Yes” habit. It’s a simple habit but one that makes all the difference in the success of the program. It works this way… if you are asked to participate in club activities such as table topics or take up a job such as timer or vote counter… you say “yes”. It’s that simple. Some people come to meetings and say “no” or “maybe next time”. This just slows down the process and leads to procrastination. Just say “Yes”!
Month Two: This is the month that you tell the club and the world who you are. It’s all about you! The project is your “Icebreaker Speech” and consists of creating and delivering a 4 to 6 minute speech about yourself. The habit you want to create this month is Journaling. Pick up a Moleskina or other fine journal from your local bookstore and start writing your “stories” down. Who are you and what are you all about? Write down exciting things that have happened in your life. Put down your dreams and passions. Put down experiences that you have had that will make compelling stories. List obstacles you have overcome and successes you have had. From your journal craft a 4 to 6 minute speech and deliver it to the club during this month.
Month 3: Is all about organization. Take your ideas and thoughts and organize them into a compelling speech. The habit you want to create this month is “collecting” information. As you see things in newspapers and magazines that are of interest to you… cut them out and collect them in a notebook. If you see things of interest in e-mail or the internet, print them out and save them in your notebook. This month’s project consists of taking some of this information and creating an outline. Organize the outline in a logical order and create a 5 to 7 minute speech. Deliver this speech during this month to the club.
Month 4: Get to the point. Refine your ideas and facts and create a specific goal for your speech. The habit that you can create this month is “listening” to other speeches and presentations. During the month notice the opening, middle, and closing comments of a speech. Write down what you like and dislike about different speakers. Listen for Grammar mistakes and filler words such as Um and Ah. The speech project consists of creating a speech with a specific and attainable purpose worded from the audience’s perspective. Create a 5 to 7 minute presentation and give it during this month.
Month 5: How to Say It. Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly, accurately and vividly. This month’s habit is to describe what you see in vivid words. Include all of the senses so your audience can see, hear, feel, taste and smell. As you collect stories in your journal this month include vivid descriptions. Really bring the subject into the picture by paying attention to the important details. The speech this month should feature a topic that can easily include these vivid words. Your words should be so colorful that the audience can “see” them in their minds. Create a 5 to 7 minute vivid presentation and give it during this month.
Month 6: Body Language. This project focuses on body language. Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your purpose. The habit you can create this month is to watch other speeches and presentations. During the month notice facial expressions and gestures that other speakers and presenters use. Write down examples of effective usage in your journal. For your speech this month choose a topic that facilitates the use of body language. Ensure that your body language enhances and clarifies your words and helps the audience visualize your message. Prepare a 5 to 7 minute speech and deliver it this month.
Month 7: Vocal Variety. This month’s project focuses on the proper use of your voice including proper volume, pitch and speaking rate. This month’s habit is to use expressive words and different pitch and rate when speaking to others. As you share stories with others this month practice with different pitches and volume. Use expressive phrases. Really bring the subject into the picture by raising and lowering your voice. The speech this month should feature a topic that can easily include vocal variety. Develop a speech which includes emotion and a great deal of description. Create a 5 to 7 minute vivid presentation and give it during this month.
Month 8: Research Your Topic. Gathering facts and figures is your challenge this month. Collect statistics, testimony, anecdotes, and visual aides to enhance your project. Include your collection in your journal. Your habit this time is to use a search engine such as Google to research a subject. Find out all you can about a particular subject by doing research online. Try different searches utilizing different keywords and phrases. Use your research to create a written outline. Use this outline to create an informative 5 to7 minute speech to you will deliver to an audience this month.
Month 9: Using Visuals and Props. Show it… don’t just say it. Use props and other visual aides to grab your audiences’ attention. Select props that are appropriate for your audience and make sure they can see them. Your fun habit this month is to pick up useful props at toy stores, specialty shops, and even fast food restaurants. Work a speech around one or two props and make sure you can present them easily and clearly. Display your visual just before you are ready to talk about it. Pause and build a little suspense and then discuss the item. Your project this month is to create and present a 5 to 7 minute speech using two or more visual aides or props.
Month 10: Persuade with Power. Your goal this month is to excite your listeners about your topic or reinforce their existing ideas or beliefs. You can influence them in several ways including inspiration, conviction, and calling them to action. You will use logic and emotion to support your position. Organize your message into one of four popular approaches. You can use problem/solution, proposition to proof, comparative advantage, or a motivated sequence. Your habit this month is to develop problem solving techniques by writing down problems in your journal and proposing workable solutions. Develop a 5 to 7 minute speech around a “problem” that your audience may have and persuade them that you have the “solution”.
Month 11: Inspire Your Audience. Tie everything together this month and inspire your audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of belief or achievement. Use all of the things you learned in previous months to really connect with your audience. Use vivid and positive words along with action verbs in a language that unites listeners and establishes a bond between you and them. Your habit this month is to listen to speakers and watch movies looking for inspiration. Write down things that inspire you in your journal. Put together and deliver an 8 to 10 minute speech that will appeal to the listener’s needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes, and quotes to add drama.
Month 12: Congratulations! You have achieved the Competent Toastmaster Certification. You have conquered the basics of public speaking. Now you are ready to refine those skills and become a masterful speaker able to successfully handle any type of presentation. Pick up an advanced communication manual and start on your next series of speeches. Make sure to send in your paperwork to Toastmasters for certification. Your habit this month is to let people know that you are a public speaker and look for opportunities to speak outside of your club. Write down names and contact information of people and groups that may offer speaking opportunities in your community.
The following links will help you get started on your journey.