Archive for November, 2011

Ever been dissapointed with the outcome of a contest?

Posted in contests, evaluations on November 20, 2011 by pastajon

I had a friend not place at a Toastmasters District humorous contest. Although she produced more laughs than any other contestant, she didn’t make the top three. Hmmmm. Suspicious. Don’t we like to jump to conclusions when we find ourselves in locations like this? How come the top two contestants happened to be from the same state as several of the speech judges? How come so many people thought she ‘hit the ball out of the park’ and yet the judges didn’t see that? And, the real kicker question, how come we are not allowed to see the judges ballots?

This is a mystery to me. At every Toastmasters meeting around the world, every week, for every speech, we give an oral and written evaluation for a speech. We want to hear and see the observations you as an evaluator have made. Is not a judge an evaluator? How valuable would it be for a contestant to be able to see what areas they need to work on to be as good or better than the other contestants? But, no, we want to protect the judges. But doesn’t the power of evaluation (judging) apply to our contests as well?

I’d also love to see a test speaker at every contest. We do this at my club level to warm up the judges so that have someone to compare to that isn’t even in the contest.  And we will compare…

Putting the Pitch into Your Pitch

Posted in exercises, public speaking, toastmasters with tags , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by pastajon

Have you ever sat through a boring presentation?

Of course we have.

A boring presentation, specifically one that uses a monotone voice tells us two terrible things: the speaker isn’t excited about their message and the speaker doesn’t care about his audience. Ouch!

But before we a too quick to cast judgement on others, have we ever been guilty of a boring presentation?

I know I have been.

As public speakers we must utilize inflection. Inflection utilizes several components: volume, rate, pause, pitch, and timbre (tone variation – think Bob Dylan -vs- Johnny Cash).  The hardest of these elements to utilize is pitch. There are three reasons why pitch is so hard to use: 1. fear often constricts our throats and makes it really hard to change the frequency of our voice, 2. we often mistake and substitute volume for pitch, and 3. we are often ignorant of our voice quality and pay it little mind.

Three ways to add pitch to our presentations:

1. Loosen up our throats.  A big ol’ yawn before going on stage is an easy way to open up our throats. It doesn’t hurt to loosen up like we would before an athletic event – roll our shoulders, roll our heads, jump up and down, etc.  Anything to stay loose can serve our throats.

2. Intentionality. We are unlikely to use pitch if we don’t plan to use it.

BIG SECRET HERE: find an interval in pitch (like twinkle, twinkle little star – do to sol in the eight note major scale) and start speaking on that higher note.  We will be surprised at how starting on a higher note will raise our awareness and use of pitch immediately!

3. Accept your voice and use inflection to make it sound even better. If we don’t like our voice we are more likely to ignore what we can do to make improvements. I used to cringe at listening to my voice on a recording, but every time I use inflection and start speaking at a higher pitch I am happy with the improvements I am making to my voice quality.