All posts by Ioana Augello

Club Tip: How to provide valuable feedback

Providing feedback is not an easy job: there are many pieces of advice on that so how can be distinguish the good feedback from valuable one?

The most important is to remember that feedback is a tool; a tool that indicates when things are going in the right direction or when a change of approach is needed to get you towards the right one! This tool can praise, can motivate, can make people proud and happy but can also tear them down and make them never ever wanting to have a speech again or do the same activity for which the feedback has been given.

With valuable feedback we want to provide a honest reaction in a constructive manner to the speaker’s efforts so that he feels empowered and motivated to grow.

Let’s review 6 tips I consider the most important to make our feedback valuable:

  1. Know what you will evaluate in advance. If it is going to be a manual speech make sure you read the assignment, focus on the objectives and also ask the speaker prior to the meeting if he wants you to focus on something in particular. If it is any other role think about what are the important aspects of that role. As in any speech you can apply the general good speech practice: clear message, structure, body language, vocal variety, eye contact.
  2. Be positive – inject as much as possible positivity without overreacting with it. A well known strategy is the criticism sandwich (popularised by the quote from cosmetics maven Mary Kay Ash):

    Sandwich every bit of criticism between two heavy layers of praise!

  3. Be honest – if you didn’t like something in speaker’s performance do not say you did. Provide an honest opinion without making it negative as it must be considered a point that can be improved rather than a weakness.
  4. Be specific! If the speech organisation was confusing at one point, say it but clearly address what confused you and offer a specific suggestion for improvement. Ideally pick the particular confusing part and rephrase to what you would consider clearer.
  5. Avoid judgement words and phrases such as “good speaker’s don’t…”, “that was a wrong thing to say…”, “if you want to do it right you should”, etc.
  6. Be mindful about your delivery. You are giving your opinion, friendly, direct in a non-threatening manner. When you conclude make the speaker walk away from the meeting motivated, eager to begin working on his new project. End on a positive note that helps build self-esteem and self-confidence by mentioning something you really liked or had an impact on you.

You can definitely find a lot of information online on Toastmasters.org and remember every time you deliver an evaluation what is important: to know what you are evaluating in advance, to be positive, honest, specific without judging and to be mindful about your delivery.

Practice makes perfect!

Ioana Augello

Advanced Communicator manual: Speciality speeches

It happens very often to talk to newcomers and try to inspire and motivate them to join Toastmasters. My first reason why they should join (and why I am still here) is always about the safe environment where you can practice and deliver whatever type of speech or presentation that you need for your job, career development, school project or even job interview.

The job interview sells well given our guests are people looking for opportunities and most of them are interested in find something better/something new in their professional career.

So how true is it? Do we really have the freedom to speak about whatever we want or whatever we need? 

Definitely YES! The Speciality Speeches Advanced manual is the proof that Toastmasters thought about everything! Let’s see what this manual covers in the 5 projects it has in more detail:

Project 1: Speak Off the Cuff

The interesting aspect of it is that the speaker needs to prepare in advance 5 general topics areas with which he/she is familiar and give them to the speech evaluator before the meeting. He or she will randomly select one of them and the speaker will have to deliver a five- to seven-minute impromptu speech on that subject.

It is a great combination of impromptu-and-prepared speech as you can prepare in advance what the 5 topics will cover but it can always become impromptu at the moment when the evaluator picks the topic and you maybe suddenly think about it differently than before.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Develop an awareness of situations in which you might be called upon to deliver an impromptu speech.
  •  Understand how to prepare for impromptu speaking.
  • Develop skill as a speaker in the impromptu situation by using one or more patterns to approach a topic under discussion; for example, comparing a past, present, future situation or before and after.

Project 2: Uplift the Spirit

The purpose of this project is for the speaker to present an eight to ten minutes speech designed to rephrase the emotional consensus of the audience in terms of their beliefs, values and sentiments and in a language and style appropriate to the occasion.  The topic can be selected from the following categories: keynote address, political presentation, stockholders meeting, trade association or union meeting, sales convention rally, testimonial dinner or  organization banquet, sports rally, sales rally, religious service hence offers quite few options!

The objectives of this speech are to:

  •  Identify and understand the basic differences and similarities between inspirational speeches and other kinds of speeches.
  • Learn how to evaluate audience feeling and establish emotional rapport.
  • Develop a speech style and delivery that effectively expresses inspirational content by moving the aud

Project 3: Sell a Product

Sooner or later we all sell something! This project of 10 to 12 minutes requires the speaker to present a sales speech. The talk should be convincing on logical, informational and emotional levels and should be delivered in an extemporaneous manner. The focus of the talk should be the selling of a product or of a service. You may want to review the text of this project to be familiar with its objectives.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Understand the relationship of sales technique to persuasion.
  • Skillfully use the four steps in a sales presentation: attention, interest, desire, action.
  • Identify and promote a unique selling proposition in a sales presentation.
  • Be able to handle objections and close a prospective buyer.

Project 4: Read out Loud

The purpose of this project is for the speaker to present an interpretive reading from a literary work. Using rules of interpretative reading such as making effective use of voice, rhythm and body movement, the speaker should create an auditory and visual experience for the audience.

To make sure it is clearly understandable for oral presentation it is strongly advised to record and hear your voice or practice the reading to several different audicences before giving the presentation at the club meeting.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Arrive at an understanding of the elements that comprise oral interpretation and how it differs from preparing and giving a speech.
  • Learn the preparation or planning techniques of effective interpretation.
  • Learn the principles of presentation and develop skill in interpretive reading with regard to voice and body as instruments of communication.

Project 5: Introduce the Speaker

Probably the easiest of all for any advanced communicator as it requires to be the Toastmaster of the meeting, fulfilling the function of that position for the club meeting!

Apart from the objectives it is good to remember to keep the introductions brief, within one to three minutes, and to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. The Opening: Capture the audience’s attention and emphasize the importance of the speaker.
  2. The Body: Why this speaker? Why this subject? Why this audience? Why this time?
  3. The Conclusion: It should lead to your actual presentation of the speaker.

At the end of the meeting, briefly thank all the speakers, and then introduce the Chairperson, who will conclude the meeting. Remember that you are the intermediary between the speaker and the audience. When you have completed your introduction, welcome the speaker with applause. Wait until the speaker arrives on stage and greet him or her before returning to your seat.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Focus on the special occasion talk from the standpoint of the introducer (function chairman, toastmaster, master of ceremonies).
  • Become knowledgeable and skilled in the functions associated with the master of ceremonies
  •  Handle the introduction of other speakers at a club meeting

Definitely one of the very exciting manuals to use for your speeches!

Ioana Augello