The speaker role is the lifeblood of all club meetings. Learning to present confidently and professionally is why most of us joined Toastmasters in the first place.
Regularly presenting club speeches allows us to polish our self-confidence, time management, and writing and speaking skills. For the club, having a robust speaker roster builds energy and enthusiasm, as well as learning opportunities for fellow members watching the speeches.
Having a robust speaker roster builds energy and enthusiasm in the club, as well as learning opportunities for fellow members.
While you might think the speaker’s role is simply to deliver a club speech on an assigned date, there are specific tasks to do before and after the speech, as well as things to do or remember on the day of the speech, in order to make the most of the experience.
Before the Speech
Before deciding on a topic or writing a speech, thoroughly review your speech assignment in Pathways. Be sure to read every digital page and click on all tabs/hyperlinks. Incorporate any feedback from previous speech evaluations that is applicable to your current assignment.
For excellent tips on preparing and presenting a speech, visit this resource page. But before you stand in front of the crowd or camera, there are a few more steps to take.
Ask the Vice President Education (VPE) to assign you a speech date. Allow yourself enough time to properly prepare, but don’t make it too far away—having a date acts as a powerful incentive to work on your speech.
Write your speech and then practice, practice, practice. Present to friends, family members, or even your pet. Record yourself, then play it back and observe areas for improvement. If you are using presentation software such as PowerPoint, practice in advance so you become comfortable incorporating it into your speech.
Complete the speaker introduction form and give or send it ahead of time to the person introducing you in the club meeting.
Download your speech evaluation form from Base Camp and send it to your evaluator. Arrange to speak with them prior to the meeting to review your speech, its purpose, and your objectives. Ask the evaluator to watch for any specific areas of weakness you feel you have.
The success of your speech is a direct reflection of your preparation. By putting the effort in ahead of time, you build confidence, which results in a better speech.
Arrive early. For in-person meetings, inspect the lectern, microphone, lights, etc., to ensure everything is functioning properly. Discuss any visual aids or props with the Sergeant at Arms to confirm where these items will be during your speech. Make sure you can see the entire audience and they can see you. Bring paper copies of your evaluation form and speaker introduction as a backup.
For online meetings, log in to the meeting early and test your audio and video with the Toastmaster of the Day or Sergeant at Arms. To ensure the best internet connection, close other programs and limit internet use in your household during your speech. Make sure you can clearly see the timer and can see/hear the timing signals.
If you are speaking to a hybrid group—a combination of in-person and online attendees—don’t forget to greet and speak to both audiences.
After the Speech
Finally, listen carefully to the feedback offered by your speech evaluator and other members. If you want to follow up with your evaluator, connect with them after the meeting. Use the speaker-evaluator interaction to enhance your critical-thinking abilities and apply the useful input to future speeches.
Access your project on Base Camp and complete the Assess Your Skills—After activity. Then, start working on your next project if you haven't already begun.
Greg Lewis, DTM is a retired marketing and management professional with years of experience giving and evaluating speeches. He is Vice President Education of Rose City Toastmasters in Welland, Ontario, Canada.