Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Your Body Speaks

Tonight is the night for pupils of Davis College, St. Mary’s Secondary School and The Partician Acadamy of Mallow and Schoil Mhuire of Kanturk as they compete for the Mallow Credit Union Perpetual Trophy (overall school winner) and Hibernian Hotel Perpetual Trophy (individual winner) in the Speak Easy Toastmasters Inter Schools Public Speaking Contest.

The pupils have been busy preparing for this contest for the past number of weeks and finally, tonight, they will present their speeches before the judges in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8pm sharp.

This promises, once again, to be a great evening so why not come along, give your support and listen what these young people have to say.

Continuing on with our series of articles on the skills of public speaking or making a presentation, this week we look at body language and the correct way to use it.

Firstly, facial expression. Together with your voice and stance, tells the audience whether you are being serious or funny, happy or sad, friendly or angry.

Next, eye contact. Speak to the audience looking directly at them; you should strive to look into the eyes of as many people as possible in your audience. You are connecting with your audience and they will know that you sincere in what you are saying.

Thirdly, guestures. Hands are wonderful tools but they can also be distracting if you are fiddling with the podium or lectern, pens, glasses or papers and can make the audience feel uncomfortable and annoyed. Equally, hands jammed in pockets give the wrong vibes. Using ones hands to enhance a presentation needs to be learned and practiced but it is a skill well worth learning.

And lastly, whole body movement. Be careful when you are speaking that you are not a rocker or a sawyer or a pacer as these movements can make you look nervous and can make the audience uncomfortable. Try to stand straight but not stiff, balance your body, feet slightly apart, relax your shoulders, chest up and stomach in, head straight and arms hanging naturally. Learn to work the room so do not stand in only one position. Move from spot to spot purposefully.

The above is only a very brief outline of using your body to enhance a speech or presentation and is just one more of the skills that are learned and practiced at toastmasters meetings. Remember, toastmasters meetings are workshops not classrooms and where the emphasis is on members enjoying themselves and of course we all know that if you enjoy yourself then learning is a pleasure.

So why not find out for yourself, come along to any of our meetings in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow. We meet on alternate Thursdays at 7.50pm for an 8pm sharp start and finish at 10pm. We would be delighted to meet you and be assured that guests are never asked to speak at any toastmaster meeting.

So don’t forget to come along tonight 15th and support the Inter Schools Public Speaking Contest. It starts at 8pm sharp and will be a fantastic evening.

Toastmasters from all over Ireland and the UK are this week getting back to normal after a wonderful conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, last weekend.
We had a weekend of workshops, contests, a tour of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and of plenty of retail therapy for those so inclined.
The Irish success story of the weekend was John Doyle from Thurles Toastmasters who won the Table Topics Contest.

The next District 71 Conference (Ireland and UK) will take place in the Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, on the 9-11th of May 2008

Speak Easy Toastmasters next regular meeting is on November 29th.

Further information on Speak Easy Toastmasters can be had from our website, www.speakeasytoastmasters.com

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Handbags and Haircuts

What a fantastic meeting we had last Thursday night in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow where Speak Easy Toastmasters held their 5th meeting of the Toastmasters year.

The meeting was opened as usual by our President, Anne Buckley, who welcomed us, one and all and handed control of the meeting to or Toastmaster for the evening, Marie Fitzpatrick, who guided us through the evening with her own individual style of continuity and introductions.

First to the lectern was Joe Hassett with a speech entitled, “And here’s to you Mrs Robinson” in which he told us of his experiences and thoughts on education. The objective of Joe’s speech was to “Work with Words” in which he had to use precisely the right words to communicate ideas clearly and vividly.

Following Joe was Vivien Buckley with a speech which was and educational presentation in which Vivien demonstrated the correct use of body language giving many examples in facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movement in which guests, new and experienced members alike found most informative.

Next to the lectern was Club President, Anne Buckley with a speech entitled, “Bags of Bags” in which she told us of here adventures in New York City and of finding a handbag heaven and the haggling and purchasing that resulted.

Finally it was the turn of Pat Sexton who was reading from author, Bill Bryson’s book, Letters from a Big Country. The chapter chosen was “A visit to the barbers shop”. Pat was completing a project from Interpretive Reading in which he had to interpret the work of an author and make the story come alive.

Topicsmaster was Liam Flynn who entertained us with his range of up to the minute topics in which members had to speak for two minutes on a subject of Liam’s choosing.

General Evaluator was Tony O’Regan and speech evaluators were, Mary Buckley, Michael Cronin and Sean Corcoran. Timekeeper was Jerry Mulcahy and Sgt at Arms, Joe Hassett and Mary Moynihan.

Also on the night was and address by Toastmasters International, Area 17 Area Governor, Pat Duggan who was on his first official visit to the club.

So what a enjoyable evening we had with the skills of using words correctly, in presentations, body language, storytelling, reading, listening (speech evaluations) and impromptu speaking all being practised.

This weekend, 9th to11th, all roads for Toastmasters in Ireland and the UK lead to Harrogate in England for the Autumn Conference. In May and November each year, Toastmasters in Ireland and the UK meet for a weekend of Speech Contests and Workshops, not to mention revelry and merrymaking. The theme for this conference is “Toasties and Ghosties”. Don’t you just wish you were going?

On Thursday 15th of November, next Thursday, students from Mallow schools, The Patrician Academy, St. Mary’s Secondary School, Davis College and Scoil Mhuire, Kanturk meet in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow for the “Speak Easy Public Speaking Schools Contest”. This is the second year of this contest and promises to be a fantastic night. So don’t forget, put it in your diary and come along for a great night. Remember, Speak Easy Toastmaster meetings start at 8pm sharp. See you there..

Further information on Speak Easy Toastmasters can be had from our website www.speakeasytoastmasters.com

Monday, November 05, 2007

Using Humour in Speeches and Presentations

Doesn’t time fly? Another fortnight gone and its Speak Easy Toastmasters meeting night again.

Over the past number of alternate Thursdays we have been looking at various skills in making a speech or presentation.

This week we look at another very important skill, the use of humour.

Humour is a great “ice breaker”. It shows especially, if you are in a position of authority over your audience that you are indeed human and you don’t take yourself or the occasion too seriously. Humour is also a great tool to win over audience, people pay more attention to a speaker who uses humour and of course humour keeps a presentation from becoming boring not to mention that an audience will be more likely to remember your message if you use humour to illustrate it.

But, caution is needed when using or attempting to use humour, as used incorrectly it can backfire. Let’s have a look at a few simple rules for using humour in a presentation.

Firstly, humour has to fit the content and tone of your speech. If humour doesn’t fit your speech then don’t use it.

Don’t tell an unrelated joke at the start of our speech, what is a lot more effective is a humorous story that introduces the theme of the talk.

You must also consider not only the age of your audience but also their cultural background and their mood when choosing humour for your speech as not all audiences respond the same type of humour. I.e. references local characters or restaurants would not be understood outside your area.

Needless to mention, off colour humour is not appropriate around children and audiences who would be offended by it. Be careful here.

The best way to use humour is to illustrate a point and the best humour comes from your own experience. Talk about a humorous situation you had and what you learned from it. Your audience will be drawn to your story because it is personal and real. They can also relate to similar experiences they had. Using your own experiences will make you speeches fresher than if you culled jokes out of joke books.

Humour is an integral part of Toastmasters. It is a skill that all Toastmasters aspire to use confidently in all our presentations. It is what makes a Toastmaster stand out from the crowd when delivering a speech or presentation.

Two speech contests in Toastmasters are devoted to it, The Humorous Speech Contest and The Tall Tales Contest and also a number of training manuals.

So tonight, November 1st, why not come along to our Toastmasters meeting in the Hibernian Hotel and see for your self how easy it is to gain the confidence to stand before an audience and deliver a truly memorable speech.

Best of all though, you will have fun learning and by joining Toastmasters International you will be a member of an international organization with over two hundred thousand members in ten thousand clubs in over ninety countries.

So come along tonight, Thursday, November 1st to the Hibernian Hotel in Mallow at 7.50pm where the members of Speak Easy Toastmasters will be delighted to meet you and show you what we do. Don’t worry, guests at a Toastmasters meeting are never asked to speak so you can just sit back and enjoy the evening.

We will be in the capable hand of Toastmaster, Marie Fitzpatirck and handing out the topics to the members will be Liam Flynn and speakers on the program are Dennis Taylor, Joe Hassett, Anne Buckley, Pat Sexton and Vivien Buckley.

So see you later; you’ll be glad you came.

Further information on Speak Easy Toastmasters can be had on our website www.speakeasytoastmasters.com

Digging for Diamonds

Last Thursday night, Oct 18th, in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow was the place to be.

Why? Speak Easy Toastmasters held another brilliant meeting, that’s why.

President, Anne Buckley welcomed us all and assured us that we were in for a great evening. How right she was.

Noel O’Connor was Toastmaster for the evening and smoothly led us through the program.

First to speak was Liam O’Flynn with the intriguing title of , “Digging for Diamonds on Sunday Morning”, in which he told us of the history of the Car Boot Sale, and his passion of attending them. Liam told us of the many bargains that were to be had at these car boot sales and even gave us a lesson on the art of haggling.

Next the lectern was Joe Hassett with a speech entitled, “1984 is here” in which he pointed out that with all the technology of today, big brother is indeed watching. Internet and mobile phone records are being kept on everybody, CCTV cameras are everywhere and if you go for a walk in London you will be recorded on 300 cameras before your walk is over. Who guards the guards? Thought provoking indeed.

Following Joe was Loretto Barry with a project from the Interpretive Reading Manual, the oratorical speech, in which she interpreted Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, “The Gettysburg Address”. Loretto prefaced the speech with a short interesting history of Abraham Lincoln before showing us all the skills of making an oration in this challenging speech project.

And finally, Mary Buckley gave a presentation called, “Take the Terror out of a Talk” in which she gave us some valuable tips on making that speech or presentation. What breathing exercises to do beforehand and how to channel nerves into energy to enhance the talk were among the many valuable items we learnt. Mary was giving us the benefit of her experience being, Past President of Speak Easy Toastmasters and a regular participant in speech contests

Jerry Mulcahy as Topicsmaster kept us on our toes with a selection well thought out topics. This is the section of our meeting in which we practice the skill of thinking on our feet. Members are asked to speak for 2 minutes on a subject of the Topicsmasters choosing.

On Saturday 28th last in the Radisson Hotel Cork Airport, Toastmasters from all over Cork, Kerry and West Limerick gathered for the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests. Two contestants from each of the five toastmaster areas took part and representing Area 17 (North Cork) were Margaret O’Regan and Richard Coughlan who both gave marvellous performances. Well done.

Inter Schools Public Speaking Contest

The second annual Inter Schools Public Speaking Contest hosted by Speak Easy Toastmasters takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday 15th of November.

Participants from Davis College, St Mary's Secondary School, The Patrician Acadamy and Scoil Mhuire Kanturk will take part in what promises to be a fantastic night if last years standard is anything to go by.

Remember the date, Thursday November 15th at 8pm and come along to the Hibernian Hotel to see and support these students compete for the Mallow Credit Union Perpetual Trophy (overall school winner) and Hibernian Hotel Perpetual Trophy (individual winner).

Our next meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel on Thursday night, November 1st at 7.50 for an 8pm start. Put the date in your diary and come along, you will be glad you did. We are always delighted to welcome guests and you will not be asked to speak.

Further information can be had on our website, www.speakeasytoastmasters.com