Updates & Posts

Respond as if you mean to go on

By Steve McCabe (HOD Speakers)

If, like me, you joined Toastmasters to rid yourself of a public speaking phobia that curses you every time someone mentions the word, ‘presentation’, you’re in good company. The fear of public speaking is in the top three of most common global phobias, worldwide.

Here, I’d like to give a brief review of how anxiety attacks can ‘make us stupid’, whenever we’re pushed out of our comfort zone. I will also offer some ideas that can add to the hugely valuable Toastmasters benefits you’re accruing. We’ll also look at the biochemical changes in our body that leads us to behave in a way we all recognise.

One fact that is widely recognised is that a fear of public speaking is a form of social anxiety; a fear of being judged negatively in public. It is a phobia that afflicts many, including the most prolific stage actors and musicians. What we also know is that, social anxiety and public speaking in particular, is frequently a consequence of a significant emotional event that happened perhaps many years ago, perhaps as a young child, or perhaps a more recent one; an event that looking back now, may seem as trivial as classmates laughing as we stumble through our reciting of the times-tables standing at the front of the class. We’re not born shy and we are not born phobic. Look at the young child, how he or she fails and fails again without fear.

It’s the events and environment we experience as we grow up that shape us, many of us responding differently to similar experiences, helping to build belief systems that in many cases, hinder rather than help you.

We also know that 95% of our behaviour is driven unconsciously. Without any conscious thought, we change gears as we drive our car, we sit down on a chair that from previous learning, we know will support our weight. This is significant because when we fall into a state of panic at the prospect of an upcoming presentation, our unconscious mind compares this future speaking event with your memory. If your unconscious recalls links to an earlier adverse event, bingo, you develop the flight or fight response.

Then there is the question of beliefs we hold about ourselves. If we expect to fail at an interview or in a game of tennis, guess what? We do. We fulfil the prophecy our beliefs have set us.

The beliefs we hold about ourselves, are either empowering or limiting. The positive beliefs are welcomed, but those causing you distress, are the limiting beliefs. We begin to build our belief system again from an early stage and it’s easy to see how, no matter how competent a speaker you are, holding beliefs that set you up to fail in your presentation is not going to help you do well. Result? You’ve become emotionally hijacked.

Medically speaking, however, the feelings brought about by anxiety are absolutely necessary. It is the inappropriate anxiety that is unwanted. In the days when our prehistoric ancestors were threatened by the peril of a ravenous sabre-toothed tiger prowling outside the cave, our bodies rightly put us into ‘flight or fright or freeze’ mode; we needed that sudden adrenaline surge to either run for the hills or take arms (as if you’d ever stand a chance with a sabre-toothed tiger and a branch) and fight off the blighter.

Let me give an example. Fast forward to today and your colleague asks if you’ll cover for him or her while they take a well-earned holiday. ‘Sure, what’s the deal?’, you ask. ‘Oh, it’s just an update’ to the management team,’ they tell you, ‘a forty-minute presentation on our current performance.’

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DCP Delights

By Shaheed Jamshed Mufti (Immediate Past President, Early Bird Speakers)

Many years ago, I was sitting and having dinner with my predecessor. She had become our newly elected club President and I was being trained as the new VP Education for our club. Everything was going well. She introduced me to EasySpeak, how to plan meetings, maintaining fair speaking and leadership opportunities for club members and more. Then I was introduced to the Distinguished Club Program (DCP) and DCP points. My mind froze!

Looking at the Toastmasters website and the literature we had on it, I found it all rather daunting…though, not for long. With some time and a bit more reading, I was able to wrap my head around the program, understand my responsibility in helping my club get the most DCP points possible and to encourage club members to take ownership of their educational journey. A responsibility I retained when I became President of Early Bird Speakers.

At the start of this Toastmasters year, a few members from different Toastmasters clubs reached out to me to find out what the program was about. Even though club officer trainings were on the horizon, I shared what I knew about it and what clubs had to do during the year.

Based on some of the questions received, I decided to write this piece.

What is the Distinguished Club Program?

Loosely speaking, the Distinguished Club Program serves as a yardstick, measuring how well a club is doing during the Toastmasters year. It is a way of gauging the quality of your club. Depending on whether your club is a newly formed club and in good standing, one that has been running for a few years or even decades, the program provides clubs with a series of goals to achieve. Reaching these goals earns your club points.

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Why? What if……?

By Gill Ornstein(President of HOD Speakers)

Becoming comfortable with the format, requirements and challenges of Toastmasters took a good few years.  Why did I join?  My work is training and facilitating and I needed to ‘up my game’.  It is easy to become complacent when you have the knowledge and start coasting….what an insult to your audience!  Talking endlessly (as I do!) with a TM friend who adores challenges we knew that the TM meeting approach could be applied in so many directions.  We mused ‘what if….’ and, after getting backing ‘Speak Up, Speak Out; programmes for 14-16 year olds was started and over five years 2,000 students had been involved in the 12 week programme reported on in the press at prestigious offices in the City. This has now been taken over by the Peachey Foundation and is proving its value to all students.   It is vital these young people, so very able to communicate by social media but lacking in knowing how to be effective face-to-face, to structure all that they do/say, appreciate the right use of language and project themselves to impress. And have fun!

So…..what now?  Personally I have been asked to run programmes within the voluntary sector e.g. Victim Support and Samaritans .  Not only are volunteers needing the confidence that clear, sound appropriate skills can provide, but the police when giving evidence in Court, and in choosing an empathetic, direct way to inform victims and families of what has happened or going to happen.  And for those who are out of work whose confidence may have taken a battering? I regularly run seminars demonstrating how able they are and provide evaluations that, hopefully, are supportive but honest and constructive.

I run school programmes, not only for the schools in which you may consider are disadvantaged students but in public schools the students have been eager to learn the techniques offered by Toastmasters.

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Arnaud Sartre: 20 to 20 renewals challenge

Renewal season is still open, and there is one day left to ensure your membership continues for the next 6 months. Reach out to your Club officers to ensure your membership does not lapse. 

We ran the 20 to 20 Renewals Challenge until 15th September, and the results are out! Congratulations to the 20 Clubs below who were the 20 first Clubs to renew at least 20 members. It is with great pleasure to say we had 27 Clubs who qualified for the award! We will run a similar campaign in the Spring, don’t miss out!

 

 

Casterbridge Speakers
Central London Toastmasters
City Women Speakers
Covent Garden Speakers
Early Bird Speakers
Experience French
Infineum Milton Hill Speakers
Lewes Speakers Club
Lloyds Banking Group Toastmasters (London)
London Business School Public Speaking Club
London Communicators Club
London Toastmasters
London Victorians
Oxford Speakers Club
PMI UK Toastmasters Club
Riverside Communicators 
SURBITON SPEAKERS
Trojan Speakers Club
West London Speakers Club
Wharf Speakers

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Florian Bay: Contest season tips!

Contest season tips!

The Humorous Speech & Table Topics contest season is now in full swing. Winners at the club level will take part in Area contests whose winners will in turn represent their Areas at Division contests. Winners of the Division contests will then take part in the District final at the Ashford Conference in early May. All four District level finals will take place in Ashford, Table Topics, Humorous Speech, International Speech an Evalations.

While many clubs have already run their contests, some have not so here are some tips for you. Remember that all contest need the following functionaries in order to be valid:

– A minimum of five (5) anonymous voting judges

– One (1) tie-breaking judge appointed by the chief judge

– One (1) chief judge

– One (1) contest chair. You can also have one per contest

– Three (3) ballot counters

– Two (2) timekeepers

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