Friday, September 2, 2016

And the Winners are...

Congratulations to the winners of the Fall Contest of the Loudoun Toastmasters Club.  Brent Cornell took the prize for the Humorous Speech with his window adventure while Heidi Mitter rocked the Table Topics contest. 

Contest Master Rob Lin with winners Heidi Mitter and Brent Cornell

Come out to the Leesburg Townhall on Saturday, September 24th at 10am for the Area 53 contest.

Friday, August 26, 2016

'Outsmart, Outlast' Darren Tay Wen Jie, World Champion, 2016 Toastmaster...

Congratulations to Darren Tay, World Champion 2016 Toastmaster!

What an awesome message and great speech!  Visit the Loudoun Toastmasters Club to learn more about Toastmasters.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Helpful Hint: Get YOUR Story Straight!

Helpful Hint: Get YOUR Story Straight!

Speaking in public can be a little nerve wrecking, right? Sometimes I feel no fear or anxiety until just before it is time to talk, and then the jitters start.  Or sometimes I am nervous for days in advance and freak myself out on a regular and ongoing basis.  But either way, every emotion starts with a thought. Or a bunch of thoughts. I call them, “The Story I Tell Me, Before the Story I Tell You!”

We all have these stories. And it’s these stories that give birth to our fears, doubts and anxieties. Sometimes these thoughts are obvious to us. Sometimes they are undetectably booking around our minds like stealthy gremlins. But by identifying - and questioning - our “Story before the Story”, we can stop our Mind Gremlins from running the show and making our life a living hell.

So how do you find out YOUR Story before the Story? And how can you stop those Gremlins from wreaking havoc and stealing your joy?

1. Get those little devils down on paper.  

What are you thinking, feeling and believing about your upcoming speech?  Write it down on paper or type it up. This powerful step stabilizes and stops the mind right in its tracks. When you tell yourself your scary story on paper, those gremlins racing around in your mind come screeching to a halt and stop pro-creating into little gnarly baby gremlins.

And sometimes just doing this alone can calm the mental cray cray. You may choose to do “stream of consciousness” journaling and just let her rip.  But remember, even if only a tiny fraction of you believes a particular thought, WRITE IT DOWN ANYWAY! Don’t be spiritual or wise – don’t edit.
We are looking for gremlins here and it can get ugly! It is sometimes just those little marginally believed thoughts that we think we have “evolved” past believing that can trip us up the most. And
besides, no one needs to see this thing! You don’t need to post this on Facebook! Use short, simple sentences.

It might sound something like this:

"I have to give this speech next week, and I am SO scared. I just know I am going to blow it and no one is going to laugh or get it. I am afraid I will be humiliated! I am so not prepared and I always wait til the last minute. This is gonna suck. I want to cancel. I want to tell them my car broke down. I cannot put myself through this again. I just have too much stress in my life.”

Or you can start off with something like: “I am feeling (Concerned, Afraid, Anxious) about my upcoming speech because…”, and then make a simple list of your thoughts. Here are some of my frequent visitors.

"I am anxious about this speech because:

I am not prepared. I am going forget everything. People won’t like me. If I don’t worry about this, I will screw it up. I need to do this right."

2. Question those thoughts!

Circle a few that give you that really pukey feeling. Then ask yourself, “Is it true?”  Are these thoughts really true? Can I REALLY know this is true?

As Byron Katie discusses in her masterpiece book on questioning stressful thoughts called, "Loving What is," this is a question to sit in as a meditation, allowing the answer to rise to meet you. You might be surprised at what you find. Isolate one thought and question it like this:

Thought: I want to tell them my Car Broke Down. Is that true? (Wait - don't rush) Yeah it feels true. But is that really true, is that really what I want? No. I love doing this. It isn’t true at all. And I don't want to tell them an untruth. I love them!

Thought: I cannot put myself through this again? Lisa is that true???? No I can. I Can. Of course I can! The Gremlins are lying - I CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

3. Find Evidence for the Opposites.

Gnarly Gremlins are notorious liars. And when we believe them, it affects our vision; we can only see the evidence that backs up their tall tales and we miss the rest of reality! So bust them out and gather evidence for the opposite of your thought or belief.

For example, if you believe, “I will screw this up”, find at least 3 concrete examples of where the opposite could be as true or truer!

“I will not screw this up.”
Evidence: I am well prepared. I have done okay in the past. Just doing it at all is a win so I can’t screw it up anyway!

SO SIMPLE! But so powerful. And now that you have your “story about your story” stopped dead in its neural tracks and stabilized on paper -  now that you have had a moment to question the insane Tom-Fibbery of your Gremlins - ask yourself this final, critical question:

4. “What is the WORST that could happen?”

and write the answer down. You may be surprised. It will likely be a lot less scary than your gremliny mind would tell you.

Now go give your talk, or speech, or presentation - and plan on killing it!
Because YOU are Gremlin Slayer.
And a total ROCK STAR!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Start your speech by grabbing the audience's attention

How long do you have to get people interested in your speech?

Well, consider this: when you are channel surfing with your TV remote, how long do you sit and watch a show to decide whether you want to watch it? Would you sit there for five minutes? What if the show started like this: "We're really glad to be here. Thanks so much for inviting us into your home. We didn't really have as much time to prepare this show as we wanted to, and some of the equipment isn't working right." If you're like me, you'd be on another channel long before you found out what equipment isn't working.

Yet, how many times do we begin a speech like that? What if you went to a web site like that? What if somebody met you on the street and started that way?

What do a TV show, a web site, a meeting on the street, and a speech have in common? I like to think of all of them as forms of communication between two people. I'm coming more and more to believe that all forms of communication share some common characteristics, and one of them is that you need to start with a bang. When you meet Bob on the street, how do we usually start? "Bob! How the heck are ya?" We're trying to grab Bob's attention by saying his name.

We should start speeches the same way: grab people's attention. Now, I don't mean to (as Craig Valentine would say) "crowd-nap" them. If you ran up to Bob on the street like Steve Ballmer in this clip, somehow I don't think Bob would be thrilled about talking to you! I do mean to start by saying something that people will think "huh, this is going to be interesting!"

How might we do that? Here's a few ideas.
1) Start with a story. Stories draw us in, hook us and keep us hooked, perhaps for hours.
2) Start with a startling statement. Craig Valentine has often begun speeches by saying "When I was in prison.... visiting..." Who wouldn't get hooked with an opening like that?
3) Start by asking a powerful you-focused question. In Darren Lacroix's world championship speech, "Ouch", he began: "Can you remember a moment when a brilliant idea flashed into your head?" Then let it sink in! Don't step on the audience's thoughts.
4) Start with an activity. Craig Valentine suggests we shouldn't start with an activity most of the time, because we have not yet earned the right to ask our audience to do something. What would it be like if a total stranger walked up to you on the street and said, "Bob, I'd like you to take out your wallet and examine a dollar bill." However, as Craig points out, this can be useful if the culture of the event is to start with an activity. Another time when it could be useful is if the previous speaker completely put the audience asleep and there's no other way you can think of to wake them up.

Whichever method you choose, try to get the audience's attention. Remember meeting Bob on the street. Grab Bob's attention.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why Join Toastmasters?

"I'm an extrovert so public speaking shouldn't be a problem, right??"

This was the question I repeatedly asked myself prior to joining Toastmasters. I just couldn't understand why public speaking sometimes gave me heart palpitations. I am often told that I rarely meet a stranger yet place me in front of a group of people and watch my confidence go right out the window. At times I am focused and effectively make my point; other times my nerves take over and it's a struggle to collect my thoughts. Since my job requires me to both speak in group settings and to facilitate meetings, the ability to effectively communicate my thoughts is a must. I saw joining Toastmasters as a personal investment. And I am happy to report that the investment has shown dividends.

Toastmasters has provided me a supportive place to strengthen my public speaking skills and build confidence. The feedback provided in club meetings by my fellow Toastmasters is invaluable. By attending and participating in meetings, I continue to improve as a public speaker while having fun at it. Yes, I used public speaking and fun in the same sentence.

Guess what the most important lessons I have learned at Toastmasters are? First off, there isn't a magical public speaking gene some are born with. Most great speakers work at being great. Secondly, the fear of public speaking is VERY common. And last but not least, with practice your fear lessens. I am living proof of that. I encourage anyone struggling with public speaking to come visit a Toastmasters meeting and see what it's all about. Who knows, the great speaker in you may be waiting to be let out.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Area Winners including Lee Crosby & Lisa Holliday

Division E Winners feature Lisa Holliday