Monday, December 7, 2009

Project 10 Speech - The Three Essential Qualities of a Toastmaster

[With this speech I completed all the requirements for getting the Competent Communicator Award from the Toastmasters International]

“Say What You Did! Do What You Said”. This is my principle.
I can motivate you to do something only if I have done it myself.
Otherwise my speech will have no credibility. It will sound hollow and will fail to inspire you.
However there is one achievement of mine that I can talk about with some credibility.

In just a little over a year’s time I have managed to give all the 10 speeches from the CC manual.
This is faster than the time normally taken by most of the members in this club.
But there is no great rocket science involved in this achievement.
If I can do it, so can each one of you!

A Toastmasters club can help you to develop self-confidence and public speaking skills.
But there are three essential things that you and only you can bring in as a Toastmaster.
One – Desire to achieve.
Two – Hard work.
Three – Willingness to Learn

You all understand how important public speaking skills are for your career and personal growth.
You have all gathered here because you desire to improve upon it.
But how strong is your desire?

A man once asked Socrates, “What’s the secret to success”?
Socrates instead of replying caught hold of him by his neck, pushed his head under the water and held it there.
The man struggled and gasped for breath, but Socrates did not release him.
When the man almost died, Socrates pulled him out and asked “ What did you want the most when you were under water?” The man replied, “Air”.
Socrates then said, “Only if you want success as badly as you wanted the air, you will get it.”
A burning desire is the starting point of your journey towards success.
A small fire cannot give much heat. Likewise a weak desire cannot produce great results.
Therefore I said to myself, come what may I have to become a CC within one and half years.
Toastmasters, can you cultivate such a strong desire?
Yes, you can! And so you should!

Can a strong desire alone lead you to success? No! You must sweat it out.
You have to plan, prepare and practice the speeches to the best of your ability.
Remember that’s the promise you made when you joined Toastmasters.
In my experience with all our other engagements like office work, studies, and family commitments it is a real challenge to keep up this promise.
But as Epictetus, an ancient Greek philosopher said. “The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it”.
I scheduled the dates for all my 10 speeches well in advance and tried my best to meet the deadlines.
I spent most of my free time searching suitable topics and materials for my speeches.
I wrote and re-wrote each speech at least 5 times, improving upon it every time, till I was fully satisfied.
I used to record the speeches and listen to them while commuting to work.
The week before a speech I used to rehearse at least 2 times everyday before the mirror.
It was not easy. But if you want to become a CC there is no substitute for hard work. I worked hard to internalize the speech so that I could deliver it with ease.
Toastmasters, can you work hard too? Yes, you can! And so you should!

Your desire for success and your hard work must be supported by your willingness to learn.
There was a woodcutter who used to work very hard but could cut only 2 trees per day.
And then one day someone advised him to spend some time in sharpening the axe.
Following this advice the woodcutter was now able to cut 4 trees per day.
So sharpen your speaking skills by being open enough to learn from every Toastmaster, especially your mentors and speech evaluators.
There is no end to learning. However good you are, there is always a scope of improvement.
Even before joining Toastmasters I was quite experienced in public speaking. I had given presentations in my office; had presented papers in conferences; had conducted several training sessions; had delivered invited lectures in IIIT.
Though these were generally well appreciated by the audience, I felt that I still had a long way to go.
So I joined Toastmasters with a mindset of a beginner and with a sense of humility.
I got my speeches reviewed by my mentors and incorporated their feedback.
In fact I had prepared something else for my Project 10 speech.
But on my mentor’s advice I willingly changed the topic and started all over again.
I thankfully accepted the constructive criticisms from my speech evaluators and tried my best to improve on the areas suggested by them.
All these helped me a lot in preparing and delivering my speeches. It also helped me in the presentations at my work.
It was all because I had an attitude of a disciplined student and was willing to learn.
Toastmasters, can you commit to learn? Yes, you can! And so you should!

Let me conclude by reminding you that the Toastmasters program is a serious endeavor.
A Toastmaster club is actually an educational institution not a recreation club though it appears like one.
It provides its members an opportunity to develop oral communication skills, which will in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.
However these are the three expectations from each and every Toastmaster.
You must have a burning desire to become a CC at least!
You must put in hard work while planning, preparing and practicing your speech!
You must be willing to learn from your evaluators and mentors!

If you are already meeting these expectations, then what are you waiting for?
Arise, Awake and Deliver your next speech and the next and the next and Stop Not till you become a Distinguished Toastmaster!

[Date delivered: December 5 2009

  • To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievements.
  • Appeal to the audience's needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama.
  • Avoid using notes.
Time: Eight to Ten Minutes
This has been the most difficult speech from topic selection perspective. In my association with Toastmasters for a over a year, I found that most of the speeches given by the Toastmasters tend to be very preachy. Well I don't have anything against it per se, but how many of us practice what we preach.
So till now I had avoided giving such preachy speeches as far as possible because as I said in the beginning of the speech , "Say What You Did ! Do What You Said" has always been my principle.
But this time there was no escape since the Project requirements demanded that I preach !So rather than trying to inspire the audience to do something lofty which I myself have not achieved it, I choose to speak on how I completed the 10 speeches from the CC manual and what qualities a Toastmaster needs to have to achieve this feat.
I was not sure given the trend of speeches being presented for Project 10, whether my simple and sincere speech will be viewed favorably by the evaluators. But on my mentor's advice and encouragement , I decided to go ahead with this.
The rhetoric element "Can You ....? Yes You Can ! And So You Should!" which I repeated several times during my course of the speech was inspired by Barrack Obama's "Yes We Can!" refrain. And I was pleasantly suprised that on one occasion when I posed the rhetoric question "Toastmasters, can you commit to work hard ?", I received a resounding "Yes!" from the audience even before I coud say "Yes You Can !"
On the whole I got good appreciation from the evaluator and the audience.


  1. I was wandering on web for speech writing help and found your website; it was a relief because I have got all the information now.


  2. Excellent work Mr.Gopi,

    It shows your commitment to work in TMI, also the way your presented is, still show your good passion.

    All the best for your furture project.

    Best Regards


  3. A Toastmaster only gets one opportunity to complete the CC manual for the first time. I, too, labored long and hard over each speech. I have yet to reach the level of write/rewrite, but use outlines, quotes, and key words. If you move on to Toastmaster Leadership, your time available for speeches is less but you make more speeches. Many more speeches!

    Do your best on every speech. The one who benefits the most is you!

  4. Hi This is indeed helpful for my 10th speech.

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