In this conversation, Jeremey Donovan discusses his new book, How To Win the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.
Posts Tagged ‘Toastmasters’
Considering a projection screen for your next presentation? Overwhelmed by the options and features?
Check out this handy Projection Screen Buying Guide to help you make sense of the specifics and options.
What is a Projection Screen?
A Projection screen is basically a blank canvas that can be coupled with a digital projector to display an image proper for the dedicated viewing space. Projection screens come in various sizes, materials, formats and sizes.
How do they work?
Most projection screens come in one of two types. Front projection screens reflect light back towards the source (projector). Rear projection screens diffuse light through the surface out towards the audience of the other side. For the best results, you want a screen that is free from staining or discoloration and is uniform in reflectivity.
Style: Portable, Electric, Manuel, or Fixed
If your projection application is permanent, then hanging wall and ceiling screens is usually your best choice. However, if you need to move the screen to different locations, a portable screen is a better choice. If you are on a budget, a manual screen will
Portable screens are able to move from location to location readily. Here are a variety of portable screens that you can choose from to best fit your needs.
- Floor mounted screens- available in manual and electric models. The manual screen is stored in the base, and extends upwards using a number of different possible manual mechanisms. The electric screens are also stored in the base, but extend upwards using a spring system.
- Folding or Frame screens- are supported on both sides by vertical T-legs. They are usually break down into a polyethylene case for storage and transport and require one or two people for set up.
- Inflatable screens- are an innovative new design perfect for the outdoors. Easily assembled and stored.
- Tripod screens- are supported by a tripod base and are extremely mobile and easily stored.
- Ultra-portable- are smaller formats and are ideal for table-top presentations.
Electric screens are high-end projection screens that add elegance to their mounted location. Electric screens can be tensioned so that they have the smoothest possible image surface. These screens descend and ascend back into the casing with the flick of a switch or via remote control. Electric screens may be externally mounted to the ceiling, or recessed into the ceiling (additional construction may be required). They may also be mounted to the wall, both the wall and ceiling, or ascend up from the floor.
Manual screens are an economical choice for projector screens that stay in one location all or most of the time. The most common application is in the classroom or small office location. These screens are raised and lowered by hand, sometimes using a pull string or rod to reach screens mounted in high locations. They are available in ceiling, recessed-ceiling, wall,and floor mounted models.
A fixed or “permanent wall” screen consists of a vinyl screen surface that is stretched and attached to an assembled frame Most fixed screens have the same viewing surface options. The price is usually driven by the style and look of the frame that surrounds and supports the screen surface. Fixed screens are most often used in Home Theater applications as well as conference rooms due to their elegant look and perfectly flat viewing surface.
Mounting: Wall, Ceiling or Both
Wall mounted screens are easily affixed to your wall using provided or optional brackets. Many may be placed flush to the wall, or extended out a bit to allow for some space behind the screen to accommodate things such as a chalkboard, whiteboard, fireplace etc. Wall mounted screens may be manual, electric, or fixed.
Ceiling mounted screens are easily affixed to your ceiling using a bracket system or hooks. A second option of recessed (hidden) installation is available for some models. Both manual and electric screens provide models perfect for this method of installation.
Some screens may be affixed to either the ceiling or the wall depending on your needs. These screens typically use “L-shaped” brackets that allow them to be flush mounted to the ceiling or wall. This option is available in electric and manual screens.
Screen format refers to the aspect ratio, or the proportion of the width to the height of a particular screen. There are several types of standard formats, and you should choose the format based on the (native) format of the projector you use as well as the types of material you will display the most. Some common aspect ratios are HDTV 16:9, NTSC Video 4:3, Slide 1.25:1, and Square Format 1:1(popular for overhead slide projectors).
- 16:9- (generally named as: “Sixteen-Nine”, “Sixteen-by-Nine” or “Sixteen-to-Nine”) is the international standard format of HDTV as used in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United States, as well as in Europe on HDTV and non-HD widescreen television (EDTV) PALplus.
- 4:3- Originated in 35 mm silent film, commonly known in TV and video as 4:3. It is also the standard ratio for MPEG-2 video compression. This is the used format for standard definition television screens and NTSC computer monitors. This format is slowly being phased out in favor of widescreen and HDTV formats.
- 1.25:1- These screens are ideal for slide presentations.
- 1.1- This is a square screen which may be partially descended to change the aspect ratio. In this case, it could be useful for more widescreen applications, but are ideal for presentations and use with overhead projectors.
Two other formats are the multi-format and the widescreen/cinemascope screens. The multi-format can be adjusted using masking devises. These are multi-purpose, easily adaptable for presentations or video viewing. The widescreen/cinemascope format is used for most movie theater screens.
Masking borders can be added (and potentially removed) as a way to eliminate the bars you see on the top and bottom of the screen when using your projector in its non-native format (ie 4:3 projector displaying in 16:9). They also increase the perceived brightness of an image on a projector screen to give it a top-notch look. The human eye perceives the image to have more contrast, a sharper picture, and brighter colors when masking borders are used.
The highlight of the two-piece projection system is the ability to create a large screen size. When choosing your screen size it is important to note that while it is true that size counts when it comes to home theater, it can be overdone to the point where it is not enjoyable. In a commercial setting size becomes less important for the “wow” factor and more important for efficiency of delivery to the audience. A good rule of thumb is dividing the distance of your furthest viewer by 8 to get your recommended screen height.
Commercial and Educational Applications
Screen height should be approximately equal to 1/8 the distance from the screen to the last row of seats. This is so that text can be read and the details of the presentation can be seen clearly. Ideally, the first row of seats should be approximately two screen heights away. The bottom of the screen should be a minimum of 4 feet above the audience floor. This allows those seated toward the rear of the audience to see the entire screen.
Home Theater Applications
In home theater settings a good rule of thumb is to place your seating at a distance that is equal to 1.5 x the screen width for 720p projectors. With 1080 resolution projectors the rule can be modified to 1.2. The bottom of the screen should be a minimum of 2 feet above the audience floor. This may require additional screen “drop” for ceiling hung screens.
To maximize the quality of the image you are projecting, an important factor is screen fabric. The two most important qualities of a specific fabric are its gain and viewing angle. Gain is the measurement of reflected light on a screen. The viewing angle is the maximum angle at which a display can be viewed with acceptable visual performance. Usually, the higher the gain, the narrower the viewing angle of the surface.
Be sure to choose the screen surface that best suits your projection and viewing requirements. Your choice will largely depend on your projector, seating arrangements, and how much you can control the ambient light in the room. There are several types of screen surfaces with different attributes designed to accentuate the projected image. But, for the majority of users matte white or high contrast matte white will be the two surfaces from which they choose. Matte white screens are the most popular because they provide the most accurate color representation and largest viewing angles. High contrast screens are popular when used in home theaters because the material increases overall contrast by dimming the image.
Most screens will have the matte white type surface. It has a normal gain and has a wide viewing angle. It provides true color representation, so it will better suit your business needs. Many home theater applications are now choosing Matte White due to the quality and high contrast ratio available with the latest projectors.
There are no real negatives to choosing a Matte White surface. The only reason to choose something other than Matte White would be if you need to make some adjustments to your image like added reflectivity or higher contrast.
High Contrast Matte White
Gray surfaces add to the images perceived contrast, making blacks and shadows more detailed.
Gray screens typically has a lower gain and tighter viewing angle than a Matte White surface.
Regardless of whether your screen is for a home theater, office or organization, the price is always a very important factor. For many, the price is the single most important factor in choosing a screen. Screen prices will vary depending on the intended application. But, generally screens start at a few hundred dollars and can go up into the thousands, depending on size, material, and other factors. Some small portable screens have been known to retail for less than $100, whereas installed manual screens start in the $120 range. Electric and permanent wall mounts generally start between $400-$500. For larger formats and extra features you can attain one of the more popular electric or permanent wall mount models between $700-$1200.
Discover how quotations can add life and depth to a talk, lending credibility and authority…and open new doors to your speech and writings.
“A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority.”
Quotations have always fascinated me. As a child, I spent hours upon hours reading my parent’s copy of the Bartlett’s Book of Quotations. It gave me insights and intrigue. Words from famous people I had only heard or read about in school.
George Washington: “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”
Or Thomas Edison: “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.”
So when I was called on recently at a Toastmasters Meeting to deliver an improvisational talk about dealing with the good and bad of life, I was prepared with a clever quote. Or so I thought. The “Tabletopics Master” singled me out to address “the meaning of life.” I boldly stood and delivered a meaningful message from memory.
“The tragedy of life is not that we wait so long to begin it but that we wait…” No.
“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but we begin it too late…” No.
“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” Yes!
Yes, three times to deliver those simple words, and by the time the correct quote trickled off my tongue, the meaning was lost. Everyone was focused on how I was saying it than what I was saying.
I believe quotations are the icing on a cake for a good talk. Great leaders, politicians, businesspeople, and entertainers, weave them into their words. Indeed, “we stand on the shoulders of giants.”
Quotations add life and depth to a talk, lending credibility and authority. Research and insight. They can open new doors to your speech. And these quotations need not be only words by famous people. They can be lines from movies. Lyrics from songs. Quotes from poems. Statistics from studies.
“In the magazine Science, it was reported last year nearly 45,000 people died in auto collisions, the equivalent of a fully loaded passenger jet crashing with no survivors every day for a year. If everyone wore seat belts, more than half of these deaths could have been avoided.”
This is a jarring statistic! And notice the imagery used in conjunction with the statistics. If properly assembled and presented, statistics and quotations can be powerful verbal tools. Quotes add meat to a speech or article in many ways. Here are four:
- They add dimension and richness to a speech, injecting your talk with a unique perspective, refreshingly different from your standard speaking style.
- They show your talk has been well-researched…not just something quickly crafted and rattled off the tip of your tongue.
- They add credibility to you and your talk, especially if you’re quoting a well-known and admired historical figure.
- They reduce the amount of individual creativity you – as a writer – need to create. This article is only 66% my own content; the other 33% is only borrowed.
Combine the words “wise old man,” and the images of a bearded sage speaking softly to a young man comes to mind, offering words of wisdom.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”
“Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.”
This is not to say that quotations are not universally adored and treasured. When asked about the impact of quotes in writing and speaking, Ralph Waldo Emerson rattled, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
W. Somerset Maugham was a bit more biting:
“She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.”
Quotes resurrect a person, place, or time. And as speakers or presenters, we should strive to frame them in their original context. Act them out, put them in an overly dramaticized style. Amplified accents. Distinct delivery. If you’re using visuals or a PowerPoint, put the quote on screen, along with the attributed person’s photo, name, and lifespan.
Perhaps my strongest point about using quotes in speeches is that they should be well-rehearsed. Memorized. Prepared and in-context. I would love to be able to just rattle-off quotes like wise leaders like Winston Churchill or Bill Clinton. Or snappy comebacks like some witty Hollywood comedians.
To master this craft of “quotations in speaking” takes attitude, practice and time.
You can find thousands of quotes on attitude. Here’s a favorite of mine by Lou Holtz: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
And on the subject of practice: “If practice makes perfect, and no one’s perfect, then why practice?”
Time and again, read these quotes, recite them. Pin them up in your office walls, see them, repeat them. Live them. The words of the leaders of the past can be reborn and requited by the leaders of today.
Composer and musician Leonard Bernstein has always an icon to me. As a child, I loved his music from West Side Story (together with Stephen Soundheim), and would sing the poetic lyrics of this popular musical from the 1950s. As I work to build my professional speaking career, and The Presentation Team, I am often kept focused and on-track by this simple single quote by Mr. Bernstein…something that we can all relate to, as we strive for greatness in our increasingly busy world. I could easily share a few personal insights on what I think it takes to achieve greatness. But isn’t it more powerful to hear words resurrected…quoted…from someone who isgreat? In the words of Leonard Bernstein:
“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”
Kevin Lerner is a presentation consultant and expert on presentation design and delivery. His firm, The Presentation Team, has helped hundreds of companies and individuals to create world-class presentations.
The science and strategy of using pauses in speech and speaking to add drama, impact and power to delivery.
Discover how these small segments of silence can translate to large admiration and appreciation of audiences.
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
The Pause is a verbal tool like no other. Suspense. Drama. Intrigue. Power. All promoted by the Pause.
Throughout history, the world’s great orators have known of and applied the power of the pause:
President Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev…Tear Down this Wall!”
Clint Eastwood in the movie Sudden Impact: “Go ahead; make my day”
Oprah Winfrey: “My constant prayer for myself is to be used…in service…for the greater good.”
Or President Bill Clinton: “I did not have sex with that woman… Monica Lewinsky”
By definition, the pause is “a hesitation or a temporary suspension of an action.”
Here are four potent points for pausing:
1. A Pause can slow our speaking rate.
Many speakers try to say too much in too short a time. Consequently they speak quickly, trying to fit everything into the allotted time. If you find yourself speaking too quickly, pause at the end of a sentence and take a breath. If you feel in need of a breath, your listeners or audience probably do too. Pause Power.
Like punctuation marks in writing, pausing punctuates our messages. When we pause we’re telling the audience that what we’ve just said is important. The pause doesn’t have to be long. Even two seconds can be a powerful way of emphasizing your message.
And yet the Pause is so under-used in today’s rapid-fire immediate feedback society. Fearful that our audience will become bored or disengaged if there’s a lull in conversation, people speak with a continuous output of oratory. Relentless ramble. Paragraph after paragraph. But put a pause in place…and there’s peace.
2. A Pause gives us time to think.
Sometimes the inevitable happens – you forget what you were going to say next. Rather than panic, pause and collect your thoughts. When you’re not sure what you were going to say next, pausing enables you to quickly retrace your previous words in your mind and figure out what the next logical step will be.
Don’t worry that your audience may think you’ve forgotten what you were going to say. If your speech has been going well so far, they’ll be happy to wait while you collect your thoughts. The chances are they may not even notice. Once you’ve started speaking again, the original statement often returns to your mind.
3. A pause is more powerful than um and ah
Often we listen to a speaker with an interesting message, only to be distracted by constant ums and ahs. Sometimes it’s a sign of nervousness, sometimes it’s a sign of laziness. Often the speaker isn’t aware they’re doing it. Fillers such as um and ah can become a bad habit. As Toastmasters, we are groomed to listen for these fillers…and eliminate them in dialogue. But they’re everywhere! Celebrities, politicians, friends and family…kinda, you know, uhh..add these ah filers when they don’t know what to say. Silence is a stronger filler than those two silly words. So we’re at a loss for words, stay silent.
4: A Pause can add Depth, Drama and Dimension to a talk.
Say it slowly…and with a pause….and the audience will listen with greater intrigue and interest. Let the message sink-in. Engage eye-contact during the delay. These are the subtle effects of a pause. A speech that’s short on time, can likely be amplified and extended by a well-placed powerful pause.
Notice that term “Well-placed.” I recently delivered a speech about Achieving Greatness through Quotations.” The talk was generally well-received …except for one critical listener who noted that my pauses were “unsubstantial.” “Kevin,” he said, “you were simply pausing to gather your thoughts.” Pauses…he went on to say, should be perfectly placed…and terrifically timed.
Indeed, as communicators, we should pay extra attention to the placement, impact, and implications of the Pause. Not only as we write our words and assemble our oratories…but in everyday conversation and interaction. Those small segments of silence can translate to large admiration and appreciation of audiences…who- whether they’re aware of it or not- might hear an otherwise ordinary talk as extraordinary. And that is true Pause Power.
Kevin Lerner is a presentation consultant and expert on presentation design and delivery. His firm, The Presentation Team, has helped hundreds of companies and individuals to create world-class presentations.
lnternational group’s mission: Improve speaking skills and leadership qualities
Every Friday precisely at noon from a small dining room in the back of Duffey’s sports bar in Boynton Beach Florida, someone bangs the gavel five times. To the group of 30 men and women that have gathered for the weekly luncheon meeting of the Bill Gove Golden Gavel Toastmasters Club, it’s a signal to get down to the business of speaking. For the next 60 minutes, the members will learn, laugh, and work toward the common goal Toastmasters International: improve communications and leadership skills.
Founded in 1924, Toastmasters International has helped over 4 million people to become more confident speakers and leaders. Today, over 270,000 Toastmaster members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 13,000 clubs that make up the global network of meeting locations.
For this local Florida chapter on this rainy Friday, Toastmaster Ed Lamont starts the meeting by standing at the front of the room and leading the group in a Pledge of Allegiance. Looking relaxed yet professional, Lamont- an experienced speaking professional with a Distinguished Toastmasters Certification- presents a brief introduction of the forthcoming meeting and then hands control of the meeting to Becky Woodbridge for “Table Topics,” ten minutes of improvisational speeches.
Table Topics: Impromptu speeches cultivate fast thinking and snappy delivery
Wearing a long pink coat, and leather boots, Topicmaster Becky looks like she’s dressed for winter. Becky starts by sharing that she is dressed this way because in her travels as a flight attendant, she has noticed the changing colors of the leaves. Fall is here. And for the next ten minutes, she calls on several members to give a brief improvisational speech relevant to her seasonal topic of Fall.
“What is your favorite part of Fall?….Share Ross!”
To a round of thunderous applause the young long-haired musician leaps from her chair and happily walks to the front of the room to shake Becky’s hand. Share begins her short speech by saying that as a Floridian, she has “no experience” with Fall. So she deviates from the topic to tell the story about the time she was performing at a concert, and was FallING off the stage. At two minutes, a designated timer turns on the red light and Share concludes to laughter and rousing applause, and then hands control back to Becky for several more short seasonal stories.
Today, Table Topics is fun and jovial, but it’s an essential element of any Toastmasters meeting, offering valuable practice and skills in speaking with poise and professionalism. Some speakers have refined their improvisational speaking skills to compete in national speaking competitions.
“Table Topics helps me to think on my feet quickly and creatively on the spur of the moment,” says Becky. She adds that the extemporaneous delivery has improved, and she’s gained more confidence while speaking than when she first started with Toastmasters one year earlier.
After Table Topics, Topic Master Becky hands control of the meeting back to Toastmaster Ed, who transitions to the formal prepared speeches.
Prepared Speeches: Writing and Speaking Refined
The prepared speeches are the backbone of Toastmasters International. Guided by any one of a dozen “manual speeches,” Toastmaster members work on their own time to write, rehearse, and deliver a speech on any topic. The manuals provide direction and structure for each speech. Some speeches are designed to be informative. Some are persuasive. Others are humorous. All speeches give members a chance to flex their creative muscle, sharpen their speaking, and refine their delivery. The entry-level manual, “The Competent Communicator” consists of ten speeches, each of which is typically five to seven minutes. The manual’s first speech is called The Ice-Breaker, designed to have members share a bit about themsleves.
Like a professional emcee at the Academy Awards, Toastmaster Ed smoothly segues from one speaker to the next, introducing each of the speakers, and quipping a comment. His presence provides flow and movement; learned skills which can be integrated to any professional environment to amplify presence, delivery, and professionalism.
Evaluations provide feedback and improvement opportunities
But the speakers at Toastmasters are not just speaking for fun; they’re speaking to succeed. Each speech is critiqued by an Evaluator, who speaks for two to three minutes, providing immediate feedback, analysis, and input. This “Oreo sandwich” method encourages evaluators to buffer their bite from becoming too abrasive with their critique. Praise and accolade, then a few points for improvement, then overall praise again.
In addition to the evaluator, each Toastmasters meeting has a designated “Ah Counter” who keeps track of crutch words and filler words. These words- “Um”…“ahhh”…“you know”…“like” diminish from any speakers’ delivery. By eliminating these empty words, anyone can sound more polished, professional, and in-control…even in casual conversation. In some Toastmasters clubs, Ah Counters ring a bell our sound a buzzer when a speaker utter the ums. Others simply keep a log. Toastmasters are encouraged to simply “pause” or say nothing when they can’t think of the right word to say.
And to keep speakers within their allocated time, all meetings have a designated “Timer” who tracks time and provides signals to each speaker when their time is nearly complete.
Fueling the fire of success since 1924
Ultimately, good communications drives success. Since 1924 when Ralph Smedley led the first meeting of what eventually became Toastmasters International, the group has helped millions of people to their members to speak powerfully, listen effectively, gain valuable leadership skills and develop self-confidence and overcome shyness or fear. In today’s challenging economic times, the skills gained at Toastmasters help its members gain a clear competitive edge.
To the members of the Bill Gove Golden Gavel Toastmasters Club, their group is much more than just improving speaking skills. It’s helped to forge friendships, build businesses, and fuel the fire of success.
“Toastmasters has become a second family for me; a home away from home,” explains Chim Francisco. Chim travels over 60 miles every Friday to attend this club, empowered by the supportive network of colleagues, all focused on self-improvement. “Toastmasters provides a tried and proven pathway to personal and professional development – one project at a time!” she enthusiastically declares.
And she’s doing it. In just nine months, the petite 37-year-old from Bacolod City, Philippines has rocketed to the top in her club, quickly completing her Competent Communicator manual, and now working on an Advanced Communicators Bronze Certification.
Speaking into the future
Chim is reflective of the new generation of Toastmasters. The organization- which as been criticized for being stodgy and old-fashioned- is adapting to changing times. They recently updated their brand with a contemporary logo and a renewed emphasis on helping its members improve their leadership skills. The group is also broadening their focus on mentoring and technology, with more articles on their website focused on better use of PowerPoint, as well as encouraging the use of technology as an enabler for more powerful communications.
Leadership is an increasingly desired commodity
In today’s interconnected world of technical freedom, commanding control of a group at a conference or business environment is a valued commodity. Toastmasters is helping increase leadership skills by providing training and mentorship. This increased focus on leadership can translate to improved performance on the job or in the world in general.
Matt Kinsey says that Toastmasters has been invaluable to him and many of his colleagues for helping achieve success, both personally and professionally.
“Toastmasters is a ‘leadership laboratory’ where you learn your basic skills of leadership. It’s a great environment to fail and make mistakes,” explains Kinsey, an IT business consultant, and also Toastmaster District 47’s Lieutenant Governor of Education and Training.
“HR managers today are looking for people with strong leadership skills…people who have been through the ROTC or similar programs. Toastmasters helps people to become stronger leaders”
And Toastmasters International is a recognized force in the professional world, it’s helped to cultivate some of the world’s best known leaders and celebrities. From actor Leonard Nimoy to TV celebrity Chris Matthews, the attraction for self-improvement is compelling. It’s a diverse tapestry of men and women of all ages and backgrounds around the world. Each has a story to share, and a desire for self-improvement or connection.
It’s 12:55pm, and the Bill Gove Golden Gavel club is wrapping up their meeting. Toastmaster Ed is asking for volunteers for the next week’s meeting. Camaraderie (or peer pressure?) prevail and in a few moments all the meeting roles are filled. The group is wrapping up exactly on time at 1pm. Most members shake hands, say goodbye to drive home in the rainy weather in the Sunshine State to continue their day.
In the shadow of a great speaker
Back in the restaurant, the club’s president Ed Lamont lingers a bit longer, working to remove the group’s ribbon-laden banner from the wall, restoring the room to its sports-bar normalcy. Lamont says that Mr. Bill Gove, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 89, would be proud not only of the group he helped to foster, but the growth of Toastmasters and popularity of speaking, in general. For the members of his namesake group…and for Toastmasters around the world, Gove’s legacy and vision lives on.
Whether it’s just about meeting a new friend, or accomplishing great new skills, Toastmasters International continues its mission to help people achieve new heights and accomplish greatness.