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									           Competent Communicator
             Speech Programme

                Speech Summaries

Oxford Speakers’ Club          Mentoring Scheme
In this document you will find summaries of all the 10 speeches in the Competent
Communicator programme (formerly called the Communications & Leadership
Programme). This is a quick reference guide, for your frequent use and benefit. The
summaries were prepared by committee members of Oxford Speakers’ Club.

The original intention for this reference guide was in support of the new Mentoring
Scheme. It was felt that the scheme would have a firmer foundation by offering both
mentors and mentees easy access to the programme outline. This is no substitute to
for Competent Communicator manual itself, but by providing an easily readable
outline to the programme we wish to efficiently and quickly establish a high degree of
familiarity. If we aspire to be effective speakers, we should know the contents of the
manual inside out.

The Competent Communicator manual covers many of the essential skills that we
need to be effective public speakers. These skills should be understood, practiced and
improved on a continuous basis. For new members of Toastmasters this outline guide
will give you a roadmap to the basic programme, and show you the way ahead. Once
you have completed any particular project, this is not the end to learning the particular
skills covered by the project. When preparing your next speech, refer back to the
summaries of the projects already completed. Remember the skills that you have
begun to master and see if you can do even better next time. By continuously
improving theses skills we progressively and systematically improve our speech
preparations and deliveries.

Even having completed the Competent Communicator series, it is recommended that
you revisit both these summaries and the manual itself. This should help develop your
skills as a speaker, an evaluator and, of course, as a mentor.

I would like to thank the following committee members who helped prepare these

Xiaonan Sun :     VP Education
Wen Shi :         President
Mary Robson:      VP Membership

Thanks & Regards,

Paul Ovington     Secretary

Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme
                       Project 1: The Ice Breaker

The ice breaker is your first prepared speech to our club and your opportunity to tell
your new Toastmaster friends a bit about your background and experiences. You will
be talking about a familiar subject – yourself. Of course, this subject is too broad for a
4-6 minute speech. Therefore, please try to focus on three to four interesting aspects
of your life. These could be your hometown, your occupation, or your hobbies. After
you have the highlights, weave them into a story, just as if you were telling it to
friends around the dinner table.

Like any good story, your speech needs a clear opening and conclusion. Memorise
them if necessary to get you on the right track. In the body of your speech, illustrate
the three to four main points with examples, stories or anecdotes. You may use notes
if you wish, but take care not to read them verbatim.

After you have planned your speech, practice giving it until you are comfortable. Do
not memorise the speech (except the opening and conclusion). Present the speech to a
friend, family member or your Toastmaster Mentor and ask for their suggestions.

On the day of your speech, come well groomed and appropriately dressed, which will
boost your confidence. Nervousness is common for your first speech, and every
Toastmaster has experienced it at some point. You can manage your nervousness and
turn it into energy to spice up your speech. During your speech, focus on telling your
story and engaging the audience. Remember, we are all here to support you.

After you finish, you will receive constructive feedback from an experienced
Toastmaster. You can also ask other members for additional comments. With their
suggestions and your own reflections, you will have a better understanding of your
strengths and weaknesses, and be on your way towards a successful Toastmaster


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme
                     Project 2: Organize Your Speech

After you have identified your strengths and weaknesses in public speaking, this is a
project to get started to become an excellent speaker. Good speech organisation is
essential if your audience is to follow and understand your presentation.

Aim of the project:
   • To select an appropriate outline, which allows listeners to easily follow and
      understand your speech
   • To make your message clear, with supporting material directly contributing to
      that message
   • To use appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another
   • To create a strong opening and conclusion.

Firstly, you need to decide what to talk about. Choosing topics that you are familiar
with and can be talked about from several angles. This helps you to structure your
speech. Once you have decided what you want to say, note down things you would
like to include in your speech and make an outline (i.e. put them in order). There are
several ways to organise, such as Chronological, Spatial, Casual, Comparative,
Topical or Problem-Solution, depending on the topic you selected and your objective.

A well-organised speech should include a strong opening, a body and a conclusion.
That is to tell the audience what you are going to talk about, tell them and finally
repeat what you just said. The opening should immediately catch the audience’s
attention. For example: a question or an appropriate quotation or a display of some
object. While drafting the main body of your speech, use points and sub points to help
you structure it. In your conclusion, make it short and clear; restate your main points.
Remember this is your final opportunity to convey your message in a manner that will
help the audience remember them.

During your speech, use transitions between your opening and body, points to sub
points, body to conclusion. Transitions can be words, phrases, statements or questions.
It helps the audience to moving smoothly from one topic to another.


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                       Mentoring Scheme
                        Project 3: Get to the Point

As with many of the speeches in the CC series preparing and delivering a particular
project helps you develop a very specific new skill, while building on the skills or
techniques developing in earlier speeches. The key skill in, ‘Get to the Point’, is to
identify a specific purpose or outcome of your speech. Your objective by giving this
speech is to change the audiences understanding, or perspective on a very particular

First, you must determine a general purpose of the speech. Is it to?
    • Inform: the audience learns something new
    • Persuade: to change the audience’s attitude or behaviour
    • Entertain: to stimulate the audience and make fun of a subject
    • Inspire: to cause the audience to take action

Having determined a general goal then chose a specific goal for the speech. The
specific purpose can be described in a single sentence that you want to accomplish by
delivering the speech. The purpose should be attainable, very specific and be worded
from the audience’s perspective. For example, after hearing this speech the audience
will be able clearly differentiate between African and Indian elephants.

Having determined your general and specific goals, structure your speech and adjust
the content, such that the specific purpose is attained. Have a good opening, body and
end that support the realisation of the speech’s purpose. By keeping the purpose in
clear view while constructing and delivering your speech, your speech will become
more effective and have greater impact.

Try to deliver your speech without notes if possible, or at least refer to them sparingly.
Project sincerity and conviction in order to have influence over your audience.


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme
                         Project 4: How to Say it

Building on the organisational aspects of the speaking skills you have concentrated on
so far, your fourth project concerns the use of words, language and grammar, and how
these can work together to produce an effective and stimulating presentation.

The objectives are described as
   • Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas
       clearly, accurately and vividly
   • Use rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasise ideas
   • Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words
   • Use correct grammar

There is a big difference between writing a piece to be read, and a speech to be heard.
What you say must be instantly understandable, using short rather than long words;
short clear sentences, and using repetition to drive home the messages. Your audience
will better able to follow your argument and remember your message if you keep your
words and language simple. Search for punchy, descriptive ways to paint word
pictures, e.g. “Alice trudged wearily along the dirt road” instead of “Alice was feeling
tired as she walked along the road”. Look for words, which add energy and colour to
your speech. Look for ways to add impact to your speech, such as grouping points
into threes (triads), using words, which sound alike or begin with the same letter
(alliteration). Use metaphors and similes, which add a personal touch and allow you
audience to relate in a personal way to what you are saying.

Find a subject for your speech, which lends itself to painting clear word pictures; and
lastly and above all else - PRACTICE! Practice is key in lifting any speech out of
the ordinary, and particularly so in this project, where HOW you say it is so much
more important than WHAT you are saying.


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                       Mentoring Scheme
                       Project 5: Body Language

Body language is an extremely important part of speaking. Along with speech volume
and vocal variety, body language constitutes a major part of the overall message,
which is interpreted by the audience. Appropriate body language can enhance the
message, which you are delivering and give you more credibility. It can also help you
to relieve any nervous tension you may feel. Gestures used should be natural.

Stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact are all important
aspects of speech that you must pay attention to. This speech should build on some of
the basics you will have exercised in your initial speeches, including structure, having
a specific purpose, confidence and clever use of words. Augment these skills with
good body language. Poor use or inadequate body language will undermine the
effectiveness of the message that you are trying to convey. Here are some tips on the
key aspects of body language you should try to enhance:

Your stance conveys how confident you feel. Your general stance should be upright,
firm, but relaxed. Be critically aware of any repetitive habits you my have as a result
of nervous tension and avoid them. Face your audience directly and hold your head up
high. Also avoid using the lectern or a table as ‘security’. Learn to cultivate poise.

Movement can provide some variety for your audience. You may occasionally shift
your position sideways, or even to move in front of the lectern if you want to get
closer. During the speech you can step towards the audience to really emphasise a

Gestures are the most expressive part of body language. In general, as novice speakers
we tend to under-use gestures. You can use this project to try a few key gestures,
which will help communicate your message and emphasise key points. Remember not
to over-use any particular gesture – use variety.

Facial Expressions
Your facial expressions must be consistent with the message you are trying to convey,
whether it be sad, happy, distasteful, surprising of whatever. Exaggerated expressions
may help convey your feelings and hence message.

Eye Contact
Eye contact plays a major role in how people perceive each other. Good eye contact
convinces the audience you are friendly, confident and honest. Make sure you cover
the whole room during your speech. Focus on different people as your speech unfolds

Oxford Speakers’ Club                                       Mentoring Scheme

                         Project 6: Vocal Variety

This is another 5-7 minutes project, which focuses on your voice. The objectives are
to use voice volume, pitch, rate and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to
your message; to use pauses to enhance your message and to use vocal variety
smoothly and naturally. A good speaking voice should have qualities such as: pleasant,
natural, forceful, expressive and easily heard.

First of all, you should focus on the posture and breathing. A good-quality voice
begins with good breathing. Breathing deeply, from your abdomen or lower chest,
will provide better vocal quality. Posture also has a great impact on your voice. While
speaking, try to stand straight, knees slightly flexed, head straight and shoulders back.

Here are a few characteristics of a good voice that you can work on:
   • Volume – Increase your volume to express anger and lower the volume to
       share something secretive
   • Pitch – Use a high pitch to convey excitement and enthusiasm and a low pitch
       to indicate sadness or thoughtfulness
   • Rate – The most effective speaking rate is approximately 125 - 160 words a
   • Quality – Your voice should convey friendliness, naturalness and confidence.
       You could listen to yourself on tape and improve it towards these qualities

Another important speaking technique you can practice in this project is Silence.
Pause to emphasise your main points and to attract attention. It also helps you
audience to digest important points before moving on. In this way the speech is given
structure. Well-timed silences or pauses are very powerful in making an impact on
your audience. It also demonstrates that you are confident and in control.

Finally, your voice should be expressive. Try to read a sentence in various tones to
express different meanings, stress on a different word each time.


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme
                   Project 7: Research Your Topic

The most challenging part of preparing a speech is gathering the material. Your
speech would be more effective if you can support your main points with specific
facts and examples.

In this project, you will need to research on the support material to your speech. These
can be statistics, testimony, examples, stories or anecdotes, visual aids or facts. Start
your research by compiling what you already know. You may have had personal
experience with the subject matter and materials about it. Your research goal will be to
fill in the gaps.

The most common and convenient research source is the Internet. Search engines
such as Yahoo and Google provide a variety of information on the subject. But for
best results, define your search as narrowly as possible. For example: If you would
like to talk about diet, key in “how to keep a balanced diet” rather than “diet”.

Libraries are also good resources. You will find books, magazines, newspapers, videos,
CD-ROMs, audiotapes and other items. The best part of library research is that people
are available to help you. There are other sources that you can utilise, such as local
newspapers, acquaintances and certain communities.

While doing the research, please remember to keep an open mind, use different
sources and record the information for later collate. After you have gathered enough
information, pick out the material that best supports your ideas. It is important to
choose the material that your audience understands. It is not advisable to include
complex statistics and irrelevant facts.


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme
         Project 8: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids

Being able to use visual aids is an extension to your existing speaking skills. Visual
aids help an audience understand and remember what they hear. They increase
understanding, save time, enhance retention, promote attentiveness and help control

The most popular visual aids are:
   • Computer-based visuals – such as a laptop computer, presentation software,
      a screen and other equipment. They can be used for large and small audiences
      and can convey simple as well as complex information
   • Flip charts – they can be used for small-group trainings or briefings and for
      brainstorming sessions. They are great for recording audience responses and
      display information
   • Props – it can be a book, a ball, a tool or any other item that helps you make
      your point.

The type of visual aid you choose depend on the information you wish to display and
the size of the audience. It must be appropriate for your message and the audience,
and be displayed correctly with ease and confidence. You should also remember that
visual aids are intended to complement a presentation, not to be the presentation.

Visual aids should be easy to read and understand. It is important to make them
visible from everyone in the room. Try to limit each visual to only one main thought
or point and keep the sentences simple. Notice whether the colours are readable and
consistent. If possible, use different types of aids, for example: follow a bar chart with
a text or a diagram while using computer-based visuals.

Finally, while displaying your visuals, there are a few tips to remember: display it just
before you are ready to talk about it; maintain eye contact with the audience as you
display the visual; display it long enough; avoid blocking the visual; avoid writing as
you speak; have them ready well in advance, and finally ensure you rehearse


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme
                   Project 9: Persuade with Power

This speech is an exercise of persuading the audience to understand, accept and act
upon your opinion or ideas. People who can speak persuasively can be effective
influencers. It is a useful and valued skill and is a characteristic of good leaders.

The key aim is to influence the audiences thinking or behaviour. There are several
ways to influence:
   • Inspire – excite listeners or reinforce there existing beliefs
   • Convince – change their opinions or adopt your opinion
   • Call them to action – support a movement, read a book, sign-up for something

Impression counts, especially with a persuasive speech. While the content of you
message is important, so is the audience’s opinion about you. The audience will more
readily adopt your ideas if they first like, trust and respect you. They should be able to
identify with you and vice versa. They will base their opinion of you on your:
    • Knowledge – offer evidence to support your position
    • Reputation – make sure the audience understands your expertise in the area
    • Sincerity – communicate with conviction, and paint the benefits to the
    • Delivery – speak firmly, confidently, with good eye contact and without notes

The way you compose and deliver your speech will depend on what you believe their
current perspective to be on the topic being addressed. Adjust your approach

The speech’s objective must be underpinned by the presentation of proof. You may
need to help the audience assimilate new ideas. Other crucial factors in persuasion
    • Logic – evidence and reasoning must be consistent with your perspective
    • Emotion – contributes a lot to changing people’s minds

A useful 5-stage speech structure for motivating people could be:
   • Attention – in the opening seize the audience’s attention and get them to focus
   • Need – outline the existing need or issue and explain why it is important
   • Satisfaction – present your solution and show them how it fits the need
   • Visualisation – draw a picture of the future situation if they are persuaded
   • Action – turn their agreement and commitment you have gained into an action


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme
                 Project 10: Inspire Your Audience

This speech is the culmination of your Competent Communicator series and should be
‘the icing on the cake’ of your basic training. Your mission during this speech should
be to inspire your audience. At the end of the speech the audience will have changed
their judgement on a particular issue to such an extent that they will be inspired to
action. You therefore need to use many of the skills you have picked up during your
CC programme such as body language, expressiveness and sincerity, pauses, vocal
variety and eye contact to influence the audience’s opinion and state of mind.

You may either elect to address your toastmaster audience as toastmasters or you can
imagine that they are a different audience at some imaginary occasion. Such an
occasion could be a sales meeting, an appeal for support or funding, a political call for
action a company motivational briefing. Make sure that you inform the TME and your
evaluator what your real or imagined scenario is.

In order to inspire your audience you may need to address a desire, need or concern
that they already feel or may not have been recognised. The purpose of the speech
may be to motivate to improve personally, emotionally, professionally or spiritually.
The audience should be motivated to achieve greater success adopt higher ideals or
goals or to contribute towards the success of an organisation.

Some aims of this speech should include:
   • Use vivid words
   • Use action verbs
   • Use positive expressions
   • Use language which unites listeners and establishes a bond
   • Use quotes, anecdotes and stories

The speech should be delivered with conviction and without notes. The speech ending
should be rousing.


Oxford Speakers’ Club                                        Mentoring Scheme

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