Getting Organized

by Vincent Li DTM

“Organize Your Speech” is the the objective for the third speech in the Basic C&L Manual. Now that you have conquered your fear to make a presentation in front of a group and able to present your view point, it is time to make sure your content is well organized and logical. Generally, a speech has three well known sections: The opening, the body, and the conclusion.

The opening should grab the audience’s attention and usually state an outline of what you will say. It should be about 5% – 10% of your speech. The body is the meat of your speech, where your present each of your points and present the supporting facts. For a 5-7 minute speech (and for most other speeches, for that matter), it should cover no more than 3 points in order for your audience to remember what you have said. The conclusion should reiterate and summarize the points you have presented and conclude with something the audience can take away with them. The last thing you said is what your audience remembers most. Making it strong leaves a lasting impression. The conclusion should also be about 5%-10% of your speech.

William described his work for his speech #3, a subject he is already familiar with. “I talked about what I did at work as an I-joist designer,” William said. “I described my work as a linear process of information gathering, processing and presenting.” Now, some member may feel their work is boring or not worth talking about. On the contrary, they can be made fascinating since other members may not be familiar with what you know, and may expand their knowledge through this process. William also said, “I memorized my whole speech…As a novice Toastmaster, doing each speech in order helped me develop my skills in preparing and presenting a speech, as well as conquer my fear of public presentation.” For new Toastmasters, I would challenge you to try using simpler notes by the time you present this speech. The organization already give you a framework to hang your ideas on to so it should be easier for you to remember the ideas and start talking about the ideas rather than searching for the next word or sentence. And, yes, there is a purpose, in each and every Toastmasters manual, for one project to follow the next, and especially so in the basic Communication and Leadership manual. If you do have an idea for a project later on in the manual, rather than skipping among projects, just joit it down in your manual so you’d remember those ideas and you can pick it up when you are doing those projects. When you’ve done the C&L manual a couple of times though (like after your 2nd or 3rd CTM), you may jump a bit, but it may still be great sometimes to go through them again in a methodical manner, to hone in your basic presentation skills.

Personally, I think this is probably one of the “easier” projects to do, since most any speech you ever do is in some way self-organized. Just think about what are you trying to say. That’s your ending and introduction. Now think about “what’s in it for me” from the audience’s perspective. As the audience, why should I agree with your conclusion? What might be my interest or what stake do I have? Consider establishing this at your introduction to grab the audience. Take William’s example, what does knowing the I-joist design process be a benefit to me? To an engineer like me, perhaps it’s enough to learn about the technical considerations. For the aspiring managers, perhaps the fundamental principles of project management in the whole process can be translated to other businesses and industries. For the general audience, perhaps knowing what goes into my house and the safety issue give me more insight when I need to talk to the insurance inspector, or if I’m just doing some home renovations.