All posts by Peter Zavacky

Improve your English: discourse markers and linking words (Soňa, Tutor company)

Giving a talk in another language has a lot of challenges. Not only do you have to generate ideas which you want to share, but it is also necessary to arrange them in a way they are comprehensible to the audience. A useful tool to make you sound clearer are discourse marker and linking words. These expressions show relationships between your ideas and your attitude to them.

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Soňa from Tutor Language School always provides in-depth and professional tips for improvement of our language skills

One of the many categories are discourse markers which indicate the beginning of the talk, such as well, so, right, now, anyway or to begin with. They are typical in less formal situations and everyday conversation.

Another group shows the order of your ideas. Starting with first, for a start, to begin with, you may list additional points introducing them with phrases such as next, in addition, what´s more, further or on top of that. For your final point and the conclusion you may use finally, last of all, all in all and to sum up.

Further, speakers often need to show the cause and effect in their arguments and descriptions to provide justifications and explanations. This can be achieved with linking expressions, e.g. so, (in order) to, therefore, since and because, suitable phrases, e.g. as a result or the reason is, and verbs, e.g. lead to, cause or result in.

The last category I would like to mention are commenting adverbs which express the speakers´ attitude to what they say. These range from evaluating the content (basically, naturally, obviously, surprisingly), to describing probability (certainly, hopefully, no doubt) and a personal involvement (personally, if you ask me). Nevertheless, as commenting adverbs contain a subjective view, it is better to avoid them when an impersonal or factual style is required.

On the whole, discourse markers and linking words contribute to the clarity of your speech and they can also improve your style. They may help you avoid complicated constructions on the one hand and repetitive statements containing numerous instances of “and” and “so” on the other.

Proud partner of Brno Business Toastmasters - Tutor language school
Proud partner of Brno Business Toastmasters – Tutor language school

This article was created thanks to the cooperation with Tutor Language school – Branch Brno.

 

Pepe: How Toastmasters have changed my life

“Toastmasters have changed my life!”, could definitely be the slogan of Josef, a devoted member of Brno Business Toastmasters (BBTM).

Nowadays Josef is an experienced public speaker: not only can he deliver speeches fluently and persuasively, but he has been also pursuing his leadership career as PR manager, organizer of meeting and evaluator.

We asked Josef (AKA Pepe) to answer a few questions about his beginnings, fears at the beginning and experience he has gained along the way. Feel free to share this article in your social circle!

Can you please present yourself in a few sentences?

Currently, I’m a programmer, but I have studied both IT and law. I love to learn new things even out of school. Currently, I’m focusing on studying new languages, in particular Spanish.

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Josef Hertl, Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB)

How did you learn about Toastmasters? Why did you decide to join particularly Brno Business Toastmasters?

I encountered some courses on the topic of public speaking at the university and wanted to follow up on that. Then, at my first job, I encountered a colleague who invited me to visit a Toastmasters club. This brought me to a BBTM meeting.

How would you present Toastmasters to someone who has never heard of it?

I do that quite often. Usually it goes like: “It is a place where you can speak or present in front of an audience and get evaluations. It is quite professional and organized. Also, we’re totally not a cult.”

Do you remember your first speech, evaluation and table topics?

I do quite distinctly remember all three of them. My first speech was called “Cards of my life” and revolved around using few cards (ISIC, playing cards for marias, credit card) to introduce myself to the audience. First evaluation was for Simeon’s icebreaker, where he spoke about his personal growth. My first table topics speech was in an amazing session where we didn’t draw separate topics, but instead the speakers were telling a story that evolved on the go. It was the first time I got to use a prop that has become my trademark – a screwdriver. Also, it was absolutely horrible performance. I feel I’ve learned a lot since then.

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Pepe even developed a special application for Table Topics 🙂

What are your strategies to cope with stress and nervousness before or during a speech?

Find a way to look forward to the speech. Prepare a small joke somewhere during the speech, a hidden remark, a funny gesture.. anything that works for you. Perhaps more important factor is preparation. I can’t stress this enough – if you want to have a great speech, it won’t go without a great amount of preparation, training and drilling. I have rather perfected the art of preparing a speech in a minimized amount of time, but sometimes this minimalistic preparation leads to feeling uneasy and unsure of myself.

What are 3 crucial factors for continuous progress of public speaker?

Determination, friendly environment and time.

You have been a member of BBTM for more than 2 years. What experience you have gained along the way?

I’ve clearly learned a lot about public speaking. However, I believe that far more important is the leadership part. Every role has taught me something, but each role is nothing when compared to Toastmaster. When I took upon that role for the first time, I discovered how tough it is to set up a meeting. On Saturday all roles were filled, including the minor ones. Then, on Sunday, people started rejecting the roles with various apologies. Until Tuesday morning I kept calling the member and I pretty much begged them to take the roles. In the end it worked out and the experience brought me a lot.

Yes, this was also Pepe
Pepe in one of his famous costumes

Members of Toastmasters clubs can also take officers roles e. g. as PR managers, education managers or membership managers. Which roles have you already had and what did you learn through this experience?

VPPR (managing club PR), where I realized it taught me a lot, but that the role was also highly time demanding.

Sergeant at Arms, which I’m currently doing, is better suited for me, as the time requirements outside of the meeting are minimal. Honestly, this isn’t a role where I could learn much, as it is more about the stuff that is repetitive and just needs to be done. It isn’t without its advantages, however, as it lets you carry around the banner, which looks incredibly cool.

Can you name some unique events or stories you have experienced thanks to being part of Toastmasters family?

Since I’m a rare breed of programmer, as I like speaking in public. That means I’ve represented our company on few prestigious events – Backendisti (a developer meetup) and Webexpo (a large developer and designed conference). There were a few conferences I’ve attended or helped organize. As for the stories it is largely related to people rather than to the Toastmasters family itself, but there were few parties or other events for sure.

Some people are scared of coming to meetings because they are not sure about language skills or are afraid of public speaking in general. What would you recommend to do in order to overcome the fear?

This is a tough one. I’ve spent my last two years trying to find the answer for this question, but it keeps eluding me. When I find it, I will let you know.

Humorous speech contest!

Brno Business Toastmasters organizes Humorous speech contest on 20th of September 2016. Have you never heard about it, but wish to compete? Here are some basic rules.

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Your first question might be: How long should I speak on the stage? Humorous speeches, similarly to other projects from Competent Communicator, last for five to seven minutes. A contestant will be disqualified if the speech is less than four minutes 30 seconds or more than seven minutes 30 seconds.

Are you wondering, if there are some rules or restrictions when choosing the theme? Here are some tips!

The subject for the Humorous speech shall be selected by the contestant. The speaker shall avoid potentially objectionable language, anecdotes, and material. The speech must be thematic in nature (opening, body, and close), not a monologue (series of one-liners). In other words, try to avoid just telling jokes you heard somewhere.

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Jaro Kováč, 2nd place in Humorous Speech Contest of District  D95

Use of props is more than recommended! 

Contestant who win at BBTM Club Contest Competition proceed to next rounds. At the end, they might compete even at competition organised globally! Do you think its impossible? Our member, Jaro Kováč, successfully represented our club at international level. He finished as second in the world (and it was really close!). Nothing is impossible.

 

 

 

 

Please take a look on Judges Guide and ballot to see, which criterias are the most crucial:

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Good luck and see you on 20th of September!