Category Archives: Speeches

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

CC Speech #7 – Two Village’s Leadership

Welcome to recap of business speech given by our member Alex for his project #7. The project is about researching a topic and introducing the results of the research to the audience. Alex has kindly agreed to post his speech on the blog. Enjoy.

Two Village’s Leadership

In his speech Alex used flipchart to show us graphs in order to support the speech. The photos of the flipcharts are added to the speech.

One day a tired traveler came to one country. There were 2 villages. They made their living by breading the sheep and selling wool and milk. He observed life in the country and noticed a very interesting thing. He noticed how people in the villages bred sheep and recognized some differences. In one village shepherd went in front of the flock (group of sheep), in the second village shepherd followed the sheep. The traveler was interested whether there are different results in both cases. He found out that one village collected in average 20% more wool than the nother. In fact all the rest was the same: same sun, same grass, same water, the difference was only in the approach. What do you think – which village had better outcome?

Chart1_Two village leadership

Let’s have a look on both cases in details. In fact we are talking not about sheep but about different approaches in leadership.

Model 1. Leader goes in the head of the sheep. Commonly used approach.

Benefits:

  • Shepherd goes first and all know who the leader is.
  • He knows the road and the goal. He sees threats and decide how to overcome it.
  • He manages time, defines pace, decides halts, ect.
  • Flock recognizes him as a leader, and does nothing without his order.

Drawbacks

  • Shepherd doesn’t know where the best grass is, the sheep feel it by some unknown way… but they can’t go there because they are led straight. So sheep loose energy instead.
  • Shepherd looks forward to check the road but has to look back very often to have feedback and understand what is happening with the sheep (control). For example wolves or some sheep get tired and fall down. It is not comfortable.
  • Pace. If leader goes faster, older animals get tired and have to run instead of feeding.

All above factors impact (adversely) quality of the wool and milk.

Model 2. Leader follows the sheep.

Benefits:

  • He sees and can control everything: the sheep, road ahead, potential threats.
  • No need to turn back as in the case when shepherd leads the group (useless exercise).
  • Flock goes through the best landscape, selects best food and keeps right pace for the older and younger animals.
  • Even more importantly, the leader delegates.

We all know: if you want something to be done, do it by yourself, because no one can do it better (wrong perception). In this case we have a manager that can’t go on vacation, sits at the office looong hours and sacrifices own life balances (family)… and even if he goes to vacation… he is always on the phone – solving some routine… because people stop working.. no one can take responsibility, can’t work without his request, recommendations..

Chart2_Two village leadership

Chart 2: 4 quadrants
1. Shepherd goes first (weak control – weak delegation)
2. Shepherd goes last (strong control – strong delegation)
3. Anarchy – no control – people delegate only responsibility 🙂
4. Despotism – full control – no delegation

Chart3_Tro village leadership

Chart3: summary
Based on proposed two scenarios, the best place for the leader is to follow the group.

Benefits:

  • Delegation and control
  • Leader has time to think (about new areas, developments of business and people)
  • Leader’s main actions are: supervise, motivate team, teach people… encourage.

CC Speech #1 – the Icebreaker

In an effort to provide both our new and current members with more resources for preparing speeches, there is an initiative to post speeches from the club members. To kick-start this, I have decided to post some of my old speeches. Today I am starting with the icebreaker I had almost a year ago. For those who would like to read more on what the icebreaker is about, the CC manual entry is publicly available on Toastmasters.org webpage.

Throughout the speech there are comments, which are highlighted in special boxes.
The prepared speech

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.

Voltaire

I really love this quote, because it says so much about us. We can understand it in many ways. In this speech I am supposed to briefly introduce myself. I would like to bring up few of my favorite cards, so to say. I will speak about three occasions where some cards played or still play a rather important role in my life. And don´t worry, it won´t really be that serious.

I had decided to open up with a quote. That in itself was a good idea, but I read the quote instead of remembering it. If you want to open or close the speech with a quote, learn it by heart.

Everyone among us here holds some cards in his or her hand. Everyone has few cards he or she really likes and loves to play, so to speak. For example here, among us, Bogdan likes to play musical instruments and make friends that way. Tereza ……… Tomas ………. I would like to tell you about few of my cards.

Here I prepared references to other speakers from either the same meeting or the last one. The dots were meant to differ based on the speakers before me. It worked great and gave me a chance to throw in few quite nice jokes.

One of my most favorite cards is, well, playing cards. I just love playing card games. There are many I sometimes play, such as the well-known poker, but the one I really love is called “mariáš”. It is a specific czech game, one could even say it is national czech card game. If someone here feels like playing, just ask. I am always ready of a game.

cards

Then I have this particular card. [Take out ISIC] It used to be one of my favorite cards until recently. It is a symbol for my studies, an important part of my life that is mostly behind me now. Evenings spent by legal discussions and legal drinking with students from Faculty of Law, evenings spent by playing cards with people from Faculty of Informatics, actually also going to the school from time to time. Well, I liked that.

For the last part I had few props prepared. First were simple playing cards, second was ISIC (student's card) and last was the credit card.

Quite recently I swapped this card for this card. Simply put, I started working full-time. Thing is, I really enjoy it so far, but, well, I still realize the point of the job is so that this card [take out credit card] keeps working.

To sum it up, the one thing I would love to tell you is that wherever you are – at work, at school or playing cards at a card table, remember, it is not about the cards you were dealt, it is about how you play them. And most importantly, enjoy the cards and have fun. Thank you.

The speech ended here. Back then we didn't have the QA, so I just left the stage and eagerly awaited my evaluation.
How I felt about the speech

Altogether, I was pretty happy about the speech and the audience seemed to enjoy it, too. However, today I see so much I could have improved. Most of it, however, was related to delivery. Body language, eye contact, vocal variety, speed.

What would I recommend to the other brave people preparing for their icebreaker?

  • Do not make it complicated – it is supposed to be a short speech about yourself.
  • Read the manual before. It has many useful tips and gives you nice idea what to focus on.
  • Find a topic that suits you and is close to you. It helps you ennjoy the speech.
  • Prepare and rehearse a lot. More the preparation, better the speech!

Enjoy your icebreaker & have fun!

Josef Hertl, VP PR

CC Speech #10 – The labyrinth of learning

Welcome to recap of my speech #10. The following text comes from the document I used as a preparation for the speech and thus it is more-or-less exact transcript of the speech itself. The transcription is written in normal text, while my comments are in italic. As I used slides to support my speech, you can see the slides at the places where I showed them to the audience over the course of the speech. This shows the actual content of the speech, but as time permits, I intend to also post how the speech worked, my own impressions and the feedback from the evaluator, so that the reader can see a more complex picture. Enjoy!

To improve public speaking. To be a competent communicator, or, in other words, to be gregarious. To obtain leadership skills. And also very importantly, to learn.

1_intro

As a programmer I have to learn new stuff every day. Every minute, every day I seek ways to solve the programming problems I face. I believe that the same applies to every one of us here. I admit I enjoy that.

However, through the years of my studies at both grammar school and university I discovered an interesting paradox. The more we learn new things, the more we enjoy learning. Therefore, in order to stay on a roll, we should keep actively seeking out more knowledge even if that is not strictly necessary.

If we study more, we will enjoy our jobs more and will be happier overall. Question is what to learn? Is there any particular area of knowledge that is really suitable for our needs?

The answer to this is a resounding “YES, THERE IS”. For me, in particular, it is learning new languages.

  • Studying another language can be done at your own tempo. You may devote few minutes a day to it or few hours or no time at all. It can be entirely up to you.
  • There are readily available resources with very high quality. That means it is quite possible to learn a new language completely for free.
  • Last but not least, learning a new language is respectable. In my experience, your friends and family have far more understanding for learning language than for some other hobbies.
  • 2_which_language

    We are decided then. We are going to learn a new language. The crucial choice is: which one? Imagine me, two years ago, making the exactly same decision. I was thinking: allright, I have basic knowledge of German and a bit less knowledge of Spanish from my grammar school. I should pick one these two languages. However, my IT specialization is computer security. Under that you can imagine encryption and hacking. Should start learning Russian? As intriguing as the idea was, I dropped it in the favor of better options.

    In the end my choice was a practical one. I have a German name. Hertl. In German that means strong, brave, tough. Moreover, when you attend an international conference you usually wear name badges. Since my name is obviously German, people tend to talk to me in German when they meet me. Imagine my embarrassment when my only reply was: “sorry, I don’t speak german”.

    More seriously, I believe German is the language Czech people encounter most often and, therefore it is the economically most sensible one.

    3_old_textbook

    The choice is made. The dice is cast. Let us learn the new language. But how do we do it? Tonight’s meeting is themed around mistakes. Rest assured that in the last two years, in the course of my German studies, I made many of them. When I began, I took an old textbook called “Nemecky s usmevem”. Point is, this textbook was a good source of learning German about two decades ago.

    Yet I spent vast amount of time with that book. I even took the book’s vocabulary and decided to learn it by heart. I even wrote my own application to help me with that. Do you remember recent speech by Martin Plsek on the topic of flashcards? I do now. If I had used such a software then, it would have saved me quite a few hours of my life. Altogether, the time spent with this book was pretty much wasted. Mistake? In a way, yes, but it still pushed me in the right direction.

    memrise

    Another resource I discovered is the webpage Memrise. Essentially, Memrise is composed of flashcards made for you by other users. It is community-driven website, which doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, it is amazingly powerful. It provides you with hundreds of free courses for almost any language of your choice.

    For about half I year I kept doing memory lessons there. Soon I started to feel the progress. Imagine my joy. Now I was moving somewhere.

    Continue reading CC Speech #10 – The labyrinth of learning

    Project 7 Research Your Topic – The magic solution to lose weight

    This was my project number 7 where I had to research my topic. As I am quite concerned about my health and especially losing weight and diets, here is the result:

    In the European Union member states, somewhere around 60% of grownups and more than 20% of school-age children are overweight or obese. This equals close to 260 million adults and more than 12 million kids.

    On average, one in five Europeans tries to lose weight by following a diet at least once in every two years, according to “Diet, Cuisine and Cooking” a GfK study conducted for the Wall Street Journal Europe.

    Has anyone here ever had weight problems, or do you have someone in your family or among your friends who is overweight? How do you think it feels?

    Being overweight or obese it is an issue and I am not talking now from the ‘being popular’ or ‘fitting in a certain standard’, I am talking about health. We all know that obesity generates serious health problems: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, some cancers and I am sure that most of us try to fight against it by searching for the best solution.

    Today, I will share with you a secret from my personal experience: the magic solution that helps you lose weight FAST, Easy and with no risks and efforts.

    I was never preoccupied about weight and I felt good with myself. Up to the point when I visited my neighbour, an old lady who used to take care of me and my brother when we were kinds and who, when she saw me just said “Oh Ioana, you must have a very good life abroad as I can see, you are so fat and beautiful!”

    FAT and BEAUTIFUL?!?! Ok, it might have been out of love and care but this sentence stroke me!

    My first action was to quickly go home, weight myself and google what my weight means. I was surprised: My Body Mass Index was saying that I am overweight. My next steps were obvious: I needed to lose weight so this is what I did:

    • First and quickest option: Slim Body tea, the awful taste tea that completely dehydrates. Obviously I stopped using it quickly because it made me weak, feeling sick and I knew it might not be the best option.
    • I went for a healthier solution. These natural products made pills, made to fill your stomach and give you the impression you are not hungry. Decreasing appetite indeed but after few weeks of swelling these bad smelling pills 3 times per day, I was fed up.
    • A drastic measure was needed! So I bought a box of Magic Pills that I saw in a magazine that guarantees that you lose 10 kilograms in 10 days. I was impressed and obviously I bought them although they were expensive. 10 days later, I was astonished!!! Guess how much I lost thanks to them? You can guess: I was still fat and beautiful!
    • After couple of weeks I met one of my aunts who told me about a great product: milk shakes, healthy, that were meant to replace two of the meals per day. There was no secret that the shakes had to be combined with healthy food (one meal per day only), physical activity and learning how to live a healthier life.

    I have to admit that this was a good solution for me. I started doing more sport, paying attention to what I eat, eating healthier and lighter and replacing breakfast and dinner with them. I am not sure if in the end was the healthier food, the sport I did or the shakes themselves but in less than 2 months I lost 5,5 kilos.

    Indeed after 6 weeks of Milky Ways (I drank every day 1 liter of milk) I was really sick of it. Even the idea of white, or seeing the bottle of milk was making me sick. Yes, for short term these might be good solutions: they help you get started, you lose few kilos in short time but if we go back to exact same lifestyle we will not keep this weight long.

    I realized there is no magic pill, there is no wonder shake that you can combine with fries from McDonalds, ice-cream at 10 PM, super tasty Czech food and lose weight easy, fast, with no efforts and no risks.

    We need to mind what we do, how we live and try to have a healthy lifestyle: do sport, have a balanced life, manage stress and especially not trust any magic solution that would melt your kilograms overnight.

     

    Post your speech!

    When preparing for a new speech we are always checking the manual and then sample speeches to see what ‘others did’.

    It would be amazing to have a speeches database for our club where our fellow members could have a look, get inspiration or simply see what each project is about.

    Feel free to add your speech and please mention the Project and Manual along with the title.

    Happy sharing,

    Ioana,

    VP PR BBTM