Tag Archives: Toastmasters

How Toastmasters Helped Me To Go Out of My Mind

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a few misplaced words can derail your entire presentation

Early in my design career, I’d think a lot about designing consumer products. That was normal since I had recently graduated from Industrial Design school. I’d think about the look and feel of the product. I’d imagine my target consumer using it. I’d mull over how much the product would sell in a retail setting.

Click below to discover how to take your ideas from head to stage…

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On Caring For Your Audience

“My audience was my life. What I did and how I did it was all for my audience.” –Cab Calloway

Click below to discover how to give your audience what they came for…

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Impromptu Dialoguing

The incredible world of social media has multiplied the channels available to communicate with each other. Now with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter we can keep in touch with everyone we know with a click of a button. We can craft the perfect comment to a friend’s message because there’s no rush to respond. It’s all good.


Or is it? We are citizens of a dual universe. We live simultaneously in a cyber world as well as the “old-fashioned” bricks and mortar world. Live face-to-face communication is where relationships are formed and solidified. We are continuously bombarded with our colleagues showing up at our desks at work expecting immediate responses to their concerns. Your boss will not likely be sending you a text message anytime soon. And even if he does, you can be sure he’ll be arriving at your cubicle a few moments later.


We live in a world of immediacy. The better you are at dealing with urgency, the more valuable you’ll be to your company. I call this type of transaction “impromptu dialogue.” And there are specific skills you’ll need to excel in this arena.


Come to my talk on August 12th in NYC and learn about five simple techniques you can use to bring about better personal and professional relationships, immediately.


On Speaking Well…


 Ralph Smedley, Founder of Toastmasters, Author of ‘Speech Engineering: 25 Ways to Build a Speech’:

“There are no absolutes in public speaking. Circumstances always modify rules.”

Dale Carnegie, Author of ‘Public Speaking for Success’:

“Your purpose is to make your audience see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt. Relevant detail couched in concrete colorful language is the best way to recreate the incident as it happened and to picture it for the audience.”

Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computers:

“To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”

(Steve is talking about designing products. His philosophy can easily be applied to designing presentations.)

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister UK, Author of ‘Secret Session Speeches’:

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

Aristotle, Greek Philosopher, Author of ‘The Art of Rhetoric’:

“These are the three things—volume of sound, modulation of pitch, and rhythm—that a speaker bears in mind. It is those who do bear them in mind who usually win prizes in the dramatic contests.”

Maya Angelou, Poet, Author of  ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mark Twain, Author of  ‘How to Tell a Story’:

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”



Don’t Mess with Einstein

Einstein problem quoteEinstein said that if he had only one hour to save the world he would spend the first fifty-five minutes defining the problem and the last five minutes finding the solution. The reasoning behind this is simple: the better we understand a problem, the closer we’ll be to finding a solution. And one of the best ways to move towards clarity is to examine the long-held assumptions that we’ve accepted as fact.

The key here is the engagment of our intention. Specifically, how can we intentionally recognize our assumptions (or beliefs)? What we need to do is become cognizant of our beliefs and challenge them. It’s a fascinating process. It won’t take long to realize that we’ve built a whole mental landscape based on them. We may discover that some assumptions do not work for us any longer and need to be updated or even abandoned completely.

The problem is that we’ve given too much control to our assumptions. We’ve been operating on automatic pilot ever since. Let’s get ourselves back in the driver’s seat. To do this we’ll need to expose and challenge our assumptions. Once we identify that pesky assumption, we need to ask ourselves “what would be the worst thing that could happen to me if I let it go right now?”

For example, let’s say that over the years we’ve built ourselves a nice comfortable assumption about how we don’t need to give our opinion at team meetings or during conference calls since we have nothing valuable to offer the group. So we sit there and watch the activity from the sidelines. Since we don’t expect to contribute to the discussion we allow our attention to drift. Soon we’re lost in a daydream and completely disassociated from the group. Not a good career move.

Then one day we wake up and decide thatwe don’t want to be a bystander anymore. We challenge our  assumption and imagine what are the worst things that could happen if we began to speak up. Here’s what you may come up with (your reaction is in parenthesis):

1. Everyone ignores me (loss of self-confidence)

2. People listen to me and then dismiss my opinion (feelings of humiliation and shame)

3. People listen to me and vehemently disagree with my opinion (feelings of defeat and failure)

Well at least we know where we stand. And best of all, we’re back in control. We’ve identified the negative feelings that have formed the basis of our assumption. Now we can make a decision on how to move forward.

(Hint: Many times it’s not what we say that people respond to, but the way we say it or present ourselves. In that case, Toastmasters can help us find our authoritative voice and engaging presentation style).