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November 9, 2007 [ More archived home pages here ]

Achieved Toastmasters International AC Silver Award

The above image is Emulation

Today's song is Take The Long Way Home by Supertramp, released in 1979.

On Wednesday, November 7, 2007, I gave a speech and reached the Toastmasters International educational rank of Advanced Communicator Silver (AC-S) at my Twin Oaks Toastmasters club. I prepared for that final speech for over two weeks, reflecting back about my nearly five years with that club. The speech had to be very funny for this special occasion. I think it was so. :-)

My speech was presented to complete the fifth and final project named, The Humorous Speech in the Humorously Speaking Advanced Manual. That speech project has three objectives:

  1. Use exaggeration to tell a humorous story
  2. Entertain the audience
  3. Effectively use body language and voice to enhance the story

My speech completed the fourth of my advanced speech manuals, each of those manuals contain five speech projects. It was my 30th manual speech in all, including the first ten basic speech projects that all Toastmasters complete to reach their first educational award. I have given at least four additional leadership speeches [1; 2; 3; 4] and other special presentations at club meetings since I started with the club back in early 2003.

Below is the prepared text of this week's 5 - 7 minute speech, presented directly in front of the audience, out in the open, without using notes, as is the practice of giving speeches in our club.

A Winnowed Confession
I am blessed to have some very helpful evaluators during my nearly five years in this club. In preparing for this speech, I went back through my five manuals and read the evaluations and reviewed the shortcomings I've been most often criticized for, by members that I feel know me the best.

In addition, I reviewed about three hundred audience comment slips for my thirty or so speeches. I analyzed many of them in preparing for this speech and not too surprisingly, many of them supported the key findings that my esteemed evaluators pointed out.

Knowing how important this speech is for me today as I earn my AC Silver award, I recognize there are still some top critical flaws in my Toastmaster skills.

This acceptance was driven-home to me recently by five people who took the time to remind me of their pet peeves about me. I am prepared now to acknowledge their accounting of my deficiencies and do my best to explain them.

Speak Louder!

By Tanis: "Don you are such a wimp. You should be using a stronger voice by now. Sometimes we almost need hearing aids when you speak. Either that, or we'll get you a microphone! Land Sakes, Don, try eating more for breakfast on Wednesdays before you give a speech."

I admit it. I am too soft a speaker. Even if I eat one bowl of Wheaties, before I come to the meeting, from the box with Brian's picture on it, I just can't seem to get the hang of it. I've even contracted with Brian to tutor me in increasing my volume. He says he will help me, as soon as he returns from his life-long dream trip next month -- to Sweden.

Vocal Variety!

By Lela: "Don you are such a wimp. How many times have I implored you to use more vocal variety? Your monotone, constant-pitched voice is boring to us. It's so bad, some of us consume No-Doze before your speeches."

Yeah, it's true. Even if I eat two bowls of Wheaties, from the box that has Tom and Pierre's Halloween pictures on it, I still can't modulate my speech volume. There is a reason for that. If I can't speak louder, as Tanis demands, how can I then speak softer in contrast?

Give It Your All!

By Jackie. "Don you are such a wimp. When are you going to let loose and allow more power to come through in your speeches? You speak as if your batteries are almost dead and then actually die just before you finish your speech! Take more Geritol or vitamins, please!"

I won't lie to you. That's one of the problems with Wheaties. Eating three bowls on a Wednesday morning and I get real tired right around this time of day. In order to improve in this area, I'm now working with Cheri to get my enzymes straightened out.

Set An Example!

By Aparna: "Don, respectfully, you are such a wimp. I joined this club because you promised you could mentor me. Yet all I've heard over the past two-and-a-half years from your evaluators are: That you need to speak louder; you need more vocal variety; you need to give it your all! Good Grief, Don, how did you ever get to be a mentor?"

Truer words were never spoken. I think I need to drink bottled water, track my blood sugar better, and have a few Reiki treatments. Even consuming an entire box of Wheaties, the one with the group picture of those I mentor isn't helping. Fortunately, Veronica offered to help me. She informed me that eating too much Wheaties could block my intestinal system and be the cause of my troubles.

Good Luck Today!

By my wife, Sherry: "You're always bragging about your Toastmaster skills, but now I've read through emails from Tanis, Lela, Jackie, and Aparna over the last week and you know what? Don, you are such a wimp! You must be stealing those ribbons you bring home, because a wimp like you certainly couldn't earn them. I might have to join your club just set the record straight about you! I hope you haven't been telling them those old Wheaties excuses like you told me for the first ten years of our marriage!"

Sweetie, I have a confession to make. I am such a wimp. All those things you heard about me and more are true. Plus, what's even worse, I haven't eaten any Wheaties since our tenth wedding anniversary.

Maybe if I had as many adventurous hobbies as Stela has, I could build-up my self-confidence to the point where one day I would be worthy of all those ribbons I secretly brought home to support my -- false pride.

Maybe then I could learn to speak louder, with vocal variety, to give it my all, and be an example to those I mentor?

Hmmm... All those things take time and energy, I know. I think I'll start eating Wheaties again, from the box that has the picture of all the Twin Oaks Toastmasters members on it. I can't think of a better team to help me improve.

I really had fun with that speech. Everyone laughed a lot. I received a great written and verbal evaluation from Lela, and many kind remarks in the written comment slips from those in the audience. I was voted Best Speaker for the day and received the blue ribbon shown below.

You may read many of my other Toastmaster speeches on this site. Search here for starters...


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