If you are reading this, you are probably scheduled as a Toastmasters Speaker.
First of all, don’t panic. The role of a Toastmaster Speaker does require time, energy and a lot of patience. There are many times where I’ve written an entire speech, then decided to scrap it and start all over with a day left before my presentation.
Don’t do that.
Over time I learned how to write a speech for Toastmasters and what elements to focus on. You too can learn this by following the following steps.
Work from your manual
As a member of Toastmasters, you are expected to work from your assigned manual. New members will work from the Competent Communicators manual, also known as the “CC” manual. This manual includes ten speeches that emphasize on developing a specific skill.
As a new member of Toastmasters, your club should provide this to you with your initial registration fee. Your speeches from this manual are expected to run from 5-7.5 minutes, aside from your first speech, which is 4-6 minutes.
One you finish the CC manual, you can advance into other speeches from advanced manuals.
Discover your subject.
You icebreaker speech is the easiest. It’s all about you. In fact, this is the only speech where you should focus on using the word “I”.
When it comes to the other speeches from the manual, you will want to pick a topic that you are familiar with, or are in the process of researching. I’ve made the mistake of trying to write a speech about something that I learned over the period of a week. Needless to say, the speech wasn’t that great.
Pick three items related to the subject to elaborate on.
It’s best to consider a speech as a five paragraph essay. You have your closing, your opening, and three points that you make in the middle. Use these points to create the ending of your speech.
Create the ending
In the conclusion or ending paragraph, you will want to tell the audience a summary of what you told them. The best speeches will have a call to action or CTA that the audience will remember as well. Try to avoid statements such as “in conclusion” when you transition into this paragraph. It tends to disturb the flow of a speech.
Write your content.
Elaborate on the three points that you defined earlier. You will want to make each section short, yet informative.
Create the opening
The point of the opening is to further increase the level of engagement and pull the audience into your story. One method to increase engagement is to ask a question to the audience and request a show of hands to anyone it applies to.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Now that you have everything written, you need to make edits. Read your speech out loud, look for moments where you should change your vocal variety, or body language and mark them on your speech.
Practice until you are about 70% there.
You don’t need your speech to be 100% memorized. I’ve found that when you memorize each and every single word, there is a larger chance of having your mind go blank.
Write your introduction.
You should always provide the Toastmaster with a written introduction. Think of this as an opportunity to intrigue the audience, without stepping onto the stage. If your speech is about a subject that you have expertise in, it’s a good idea to include your credentials and a blurb about you. Having someone else talk about you (albeit.. via something you wrote) will increase your level of authority with the audience.
Being a Toastmasters speaker is a great opportunity to expand outside of your comfort zone. It challenges you to focus on your writing skills, speaking skills, and the ability to organize data. All of this is important so that you can effectively use the allotted time for a speech.