The Competent Communication manual has ten speech projects, each designed to develop your speaking skills one step at a time. The projects increase in difficulty as you progress through the manual. Every project incorporates and builds on what you have learnt in previous projects, so you should present the speeches in numerical order.
When you have completed all ten speeches, you are eligible to receive the Competent Communicator (CC) award from Toastmasters International.
1. THE ICE BREAKER (Time: 4-6 minutes)
Introduce yourself to your fellow club members and give them some information about your background, interests and ambitions. Practise giving your speech to friends or family members and strive to make eye contact with some of your audience. You may use notes during your speech if you wish.
• Begin speaking before an audience
• Discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need some attention
2. ORGANISE YOUR SPEECH (Time: 5-7 minutes)
Good speech organisation is essential if your audience is to follow and understand your presentation. You must take the time to order your ideas in a way that best suits your topic. The opening should catch the audience’s attention, the body must support the idea you want to convey and the conclusion should reinforce your ideas and be memorable. Transitions between thoughts should be smooth.
• Select an appropriate outline which allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech
• Make your message clear, with supporting material directly contributing to that message
• Use appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another
• Create a strong opening and conclusion
3. GET TO THE POINT (Time: 5-7 minutes)
Every speech must have a general and a specific purpose. A general purpose is to inform, persuade, entertain or inspire. A specific purpose is what you want the audience to do after listening to your speech. The general and specific purposes will make it easier for you to organise your speech.
• Select a speech topic and determine its general and specific purposes
• Organise the speech in a manner that best achieves those purposes
• Ensure the beginning, body and conclusion reinforce the purposes
• Project sincerity and conviction and control any nervousness you may feel
4. HOW TO SAY IT (Time: 5-7 minutes)
Words are powerful. They convey your message and influence the audience and its perception of you. Word choice and arrangement need just as much attention as speech organisation and purpose. Select clear, accurate, descriptive and short words that best communicate your ideas and arrange them effectively and correctly. Every word should add value, meaning and impact to the speech.
• Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly, accurately and vividly
• Use rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasise ideas
• Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words. Use correct grammar
5. YOUR BODY SPEAKS (Time: 5-7 minutes)
Body language enhances your message and gives you more credibility. It also helps release any nervousness you may feel. Stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact help communicate your message and achieve your speech’s purpose. Body language should be smooth, natural and convey the same message that your listeners hear.
• Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s purpose
• Make your body language smooth and natural
6. VOCAL VARIETY (Time: 5-7 minutes)
Your voice has a major effect on your audience. A lively, exciting voice attracts and keeps listeners’ attention. A speaking voice should be pleasant, natural, forceful, expressive and easily heard. Use volume, pitch, rate and quality, as well as appropriate pauses to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message. Your voice should reflect the thoughts you are presenting.
• Use voice volume, pitch, rate and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message
• Use pauses to enhance your message
• Use vocal variety smoothly and naturally
7. RESEARCH YOUR TOPIC (Time: 5-7 minutes)
Your speech will be more effective if you can support your main points with statistics, testimony, stories, anecdotes, examples, visual aids and facts, rather than just your own opinions.
• Collect information about your topic from numerous sources
• Carefully support your points and opinions with specific facts, examples and illustrations gathered through research
8. GET COMFORTABLE WITH VISUAL AIDS (Time: 5-7 minutes)
Visual aids help an audience understand and remember what they hear. The most popular visual aids are computer slides and visuals, flipcharts, whiteboards and props. Your choice of visual aid depends on several factors, including the information you wish to display and the size of your audience. Visuals must be appropriate for your message and the audience and be displayed correctly with ease and confidence.
• Select visual aids that are appropriate for your message and the audience
• Use visual aids correctly with ease and confidence
9. PERSUADE WITH POWER (Time: 5-7 minutes)
The ability to persuade people – getting them to understand, accept and act upon your ideas – is a valuable skill. Your listeners are more likely to be persuaded if they perceive you as credible, if you use logic and emotion in your appeal, if you carefully structure your speech and if you appeal to their interests. Avoid using notes because they may cause listeners to doubt your sincerity, knowledge and conviction.
• Persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action
• Appeal to the audience’s interests
• Use logic and emotion to support your position
• Avoid using notes
10. INSPIRE YOUR AUDIENCE (Time: 8-10 minutes)
An inspirational speech motivates an audience to improve personally, emotionally, professionally or spiritually and relies heavily on emotional appeal. It brings the audience together in a mood of fellowship and shared desire, builds the audience’s enthusiasm, then proposes a change or plan and appeals to the audience to adopt this change or plan.
• Inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of belief or achievement
• Appeal to the audience’s needs and emotions using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama
• Avoid using notes.