Tag Archives: speech

The Boy Who Found Fear At Last

This was my take on a Turkish fairy tale. There is a translated version of the original. This was for the first speech in the Toastmasters Storytelling manual, which has a simple goal: Tell a folk tale suitable for the audience!

My first challenge was finding a folk tale which met my own criteria:

  1. It had to be the right length for a 7-9 minute speech.
  2. I wanted something relatively unknown, so the audience would not glaze over at a re-telling of a story they had heard 10,000 times before.
  3. I wanted the story to have themes that an adult audience could relate to.
  4. I wanted some form of twist or darkness or other interesting storytelling themes.

I looked in all sorts of places, including sci-fi short stories! In the end, this story lept out of a long list of folk tales due to its title. The title alone is intriguing!

I did make some adjustments to the story. In particular, I stripped out the references to the bracelet. It pushed me over time and also did not seem particularly relevant to the story.

I really enjoyed giving this performance at Farnham Speakers, and was thrilled that it won Best Speech on the night. That said, there is always room for improvement!

  1. SPEED: In my practice runs, this was on the limit of nine minutes. My final delivery was closer to eight. More pauses would really have helped the power of this speech. Perhaps I should have cut it a bit more so I could relax?
  2. VOCAL VARIETY: Strong in some ways, although one comment I got which I fully agree with is that ‘the boy’ did not have a distinctive voice compared to the narrator.
  3. BODY LANGUAGE: Strong stage usage and presence. Some actions could be refined (Swimming? The doves diving?).

Perhaps one thing I am really happy with is that I gave this speech with total confidence. It flowed and I had a good time.

Having a good time when speaking in public. Now that is pretty cool!

Tips for a Timekeeper at Toastmasters

Ready, steady...
The Timekeeper is a pivotal role at any Toastmasters meeting. I’ve had the opportunity to see various Timekeepers in action over time (sorry!) as well as enjoy the role myself, be that at Farnham Speakers or elsewhere.

On paper, the role is very simple, isn’t it? Time the speeches and other activities and report accurately on the results. Oh, and cycle the timing lights as required if they are in use so that the speakers know what is going on!

However, here are a few tips to really make this role shine:

  1. TIMING IS IMPORTANT: We all know this. Be it for business, meeting up with friends, planning our days…. the list extends to the horizon. Why is that some Timekeepers are almost apologetic when detailing their role for the benefit of those present? This is a perfect opportunity to explain why timing is so important (got a good mini-anecdote?). The Toastmaster should be stressing this as well.
  2. EXPLAIN THE TIMING RULES: When do the lights go on and why? What are the consequences for ‘failure’? Now, the majority of people present are likely to know this inside out but a quick explanation is a good idea.
  3. BE BOLD WHEN GIVING THE TIMING REPORT: Be confident and assertive. The report is important: Speakers could be disqualified as a result of their timings! Convey it with the sincerity that it demands.
  4. SUMMARISE TABLE TOPICS: For Table Topics, it is a good idea to not just mention the name of each speaker: Give a very concise summary of what they spoke about. Typically this would be the topic that they were set. It is a good call-back to the session and it also helps out those who are struggling to remember a name when filling out their voting form. See, helpful!

I hope that you find these tips helpful and that you enjoy your Timekeeper role at Toastmaters! If you have any of your own in making the role your own, I would love to hear them.

‘Unicorn’ – My Tall Tale

This was my entry into the Marlow Regional Tall Tales contest in 2011. It was my first attempt at ever delivering a ‘Tall Tale’. A definite learning experience and I feel that next time I will go for more of a humorous angle as these were the speeches which tended to be the winning ones!

Audio only on this one. As a result, no use of body language to show off but some vocal variety to be listened to! I was going for an emotional story with a moral. What do you think?

I was representing Farnham Speakers and this all falls under the Toastmasters remit.

SEE ALSO: Speeches, Vocal Variety and Emotion.

Going Commando

This was my tenth speech at Farnham Speakers. This meant that it earned me my ‘Competent Communicator’ award with Toastmasters International!

It had the goal of ‘Inspire Your Audience’ and is centred around the Commando Challenge that I did recently (17 km run including a Royal Marines assault course). However, there is also a personal journey involved…

I’m very happy with how this one turned out, especially since it is the longest speech that I have given to date. As usual, it was performed entirely from memory. It is easier to recall speeches based around personal experiences though!

It has just struck me that about a year ago, I would never have dreamed I would be able to perform a ten minute speech from memory…. plus thoroughly enjoy doing so!


This is my sixth Toastmasters speech which I presented at Farnham Speakers. The goal was ‘Vocal Variety’.

I am pretty happy with how this one went and it also won ‘Best Prepared Speech’ on the night. The vocal variety was commended but of course there are always going to be things that I need to work on:

  • HANDS: Distracting. I do use body language for effect pretty well nowadays (and avoid pacing!) but the hands do attract comments. This may be a tough one to break.
  • SHADES OF GREY: I do a good job of quiet/loud and soft/harsh switching in this speech. Is there room for more though? Shades of grey and smoother transitions between the two? That said, the ‘snap’ transitions were deliberate…
  • EYE CONTACT: I loved this suggestion! While I make eye contact with the audience I do not quite let it linger enough to make it as powerful as it could be. It’s something to experiment with.

One thing I found very interesting when giving this speech was the audience reaction. Yes, they laughed as I hoped but it was clear some thought the transition to the serious part of the speech was just a set-up to another gag. I wonder what can be done about that? Or is it just a recognised hazard with giving a 6-7 minute speech which is trying to cross both worlds?

My next speech will have the goal of ‘Research Your Topic’ so I need to get thinking…

Finally, everything in the speech is true!

Competition Time: My first Humorous Speech

This was my entry into the Farnham Speakers Humorous Speech Contest 2010. It was a speech of firsts: The first deliberately humorous speech I have written and also my first attempt at entering any form of speaking contest!

This has been the easiest speech of mine to write and perform. Most of it was poured onto paper when sitting round the kitchen table at the peaceful Castle Farm. It then sat around for a bit until I finally edited it and started practising… the day before the contest! Thankfully, the (true-ish) story-telling nature of the project made it easy to remember.


The quality of the speeches on the night was very high. I was on last so hearing how great everyone else was did little for my nerves! Thankfully, I love performing and as this is very much a performance speech it was easy to hit my flow.

People laughed and not in sympathy. I was also very happy (and somewhat surprised) to win the competition. Unfortunately, I can’t advance to the Area contest as the club is not yet charted… never mind, next year then!

However, there is no speech in Toastmasters without feedback! I’ve already mentioned the positives so here is what I feel I need to work on:

  1. PREPARATION: I need to stop finishing writing my speeches the day before they are due to be given. More time with my mentor and honing them would make a huge difference.
  2. LET THEM LAUGH: A couple of people have commented I need to leave more room for laughter. I had this sussed in some places but clearly not in others. Admittedly, I was worried I might run out of time…. in the end this was not an issue at all.
  3. VOCAL VARIETY: I can do strong and powerful. I need vocal variety to make the strong elements ring through. This is going to be my next project.

It was a fun night. I am now idly thinking of trying a little bit of stand-up…

Selling It

I gave my third Toastmasters speech at Farnham Speakers yesterday. The goal on this was ‘Get To The Point!’ which is pretty self-explanatory.

I did have some other goals to try and crack though:

  1. ‘Pointless’ body language had crept into my previous speech. In particular, pacing the stage when it had no link to what I was saying. I was determined to make sure that any body language used had a point! This seemed to work well.
  2. A key topic in this speech is football refereeing, either part of which may make people turn off immediately! So I had to keep it engaging. I got a positive response on the content.

What do I need to work on?

  1. Notes. I’ve never needed them before but I referred to them on occasion this time. BAD. Must prepare more to ENSURE this NEVER happens again.
  2. Hands. A suggestion that sometimes to drop my hands by my side. I think this is a good one as it will add a bit more power to when my hands are actually used.
  3. Calm down. My nerves are still coming through and this links into just relaxing and practising more. This will of course also solve the notes issue! Spending extra days has reaped benefits before, as demonstrated when I repeated a speech.

Now I need to start thinking about what to talk about for my fourth speech! Toastmasters is a fantastic, supportive organisation for improving on public speaking… and I can see the confidence helping with my refereeing as well!