Can you be a Competent Communicator? 

Article by Ernie Boxall 25.11.15

I’m a “Competent Communicator” and I know I am because Toastmasters’ International have told me I am…What is a “Competent Communicator”

Communicating by e mail is a beginning of a relationship which is an introduction only. To really connect with another human being you have, at some stage, to talk to them. And in the talking you have to be able to inform them, enthuse them, educate them and perhaps even berate them. In any case you have persuade them of your point of view. There are few if any established educational locations which teach our people how to be competent communicators. In Toastmasters International I have found one.

How it works: Spa Speakers, Leamington’s own group which meets at The Helen Ley Centre in Barrowdale Lane, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month (even a fifth one if there is one.) And we learn how to communicate by working our way through a manual of 10 speeches which start at the “Ice Breaker” and ends with “Inspire Your Audience.” I was given two weeks to prepare each speech and eventually expected to deliver them in a set time (5 to 7 minutes for the speeches up to the final one which is 8 to 10 minutes.) After the third speech it is expected that no notes will be used.

Each of the speeches are evaluated by an experienced member of the group who delivers their appraisal of your speech emphasising the positive aspects of the presentation and delivery whilst pointing out what could have been done better for future reference.

Getting started:

The 10 Locations I’ve visited.

If we all had a roadmap of our journey, where our destination was the place of our dreams, where would your 10 locations be?

1. My journey started with my birthplace: George Eliot Hospital, Nuneston. Warwickshire. Project 1: Ice Breaker speech: Who I am: Where I am and Where I’ve been.

2. Attleborough, Nuneaton: My home, on and off for over twenty years. This is where I learned and forgot lessons to carry me through the journey. This is Project 2: Organize Your Speech. Concentrate on structure; plan the points I wanted to make and deliver them in a proper timeline.

3. St Malo, Brittany. France: My first trip abroad with the school: Project 3: Get To The Point: What was the point of my speech? And at the end of it, did I manage to convince the audience that I had grasped the point; made the point convincingly and entertained them on the way. 

4. Lugano, Switzerland. My second trip abroad with the school: Project 4: How To Say It: I had to select the right words to say to communicate my message. Words that were powerful enough to grab interest and with enough variation in tone and length to make an impact. 

5. St Paul, Minnesota. USA: My first flight in a plane and across the Atlantic. To visit my pen friend of three years. Project 5: Your Body Speaks: Body language was something I’d rarely thought about until I joined Spa Speakers. I could deliver a presentation reasonable well but it was static, closed and with limited movement even of my hands. Project 5 emphasises the importance of bringing movement, acting even to the speech.

6. Coventry. England. Back close to home, but by this time I was a working man. Project 6: Vocal Variety. How to use volume, pitch, speed and length of sentences to reflect the meaning of my speech and my message

7. Kibbutz Grofit. Doar-na-Eilat. Israel. 6 months in a war zone..one of the best periods of my life. Project 7: Research Your Topic: My speech was backed up by statistics, stories, visual aids and facts. Gathering all the necessary information in order to present my case effectively. 

8. Leirvik/Gotu. The Faeroe Islands. A tiny speck on the globe, midway between The Sheltland Islands and Iceland. They are barely noticeable on the maps and weather charts and yet they are a group of fascinating islands and people. Project 8: Get Comfortable With Visual Aids: The audience was asked to join my on a journey through my life using pictures from my past on a screen. The pictures gave me prompts for the speech and also saved me a thousand words.

9. Leamington Spa. England. Back home once again to my present location where I have been able to fulfil many of my goals in terms of work, finance and family ties. Where I was introduced to networking, speaking and Spa Speakers. Project 9: Persuade With Power: I had to persuade the audience to first listen to, accept and then act upon my ideas. My logical and emotional attachment to my philosophy of work.

10. Minneapolis/St Paul. Minnesota. USA. My Goal: My dream resting place. This is where my roadmap is guiding me and the 10th Project; Inspire Your Audience was the speech I used to inspire the regular members of Spa Speakers to get out into the community and, through their ability to deliver great speeches, increase the membership of the club. And to the first time visitors on the night I appealed to their self-esteem in climbing the podium from the base to the Gold Medal step..The World Championship of Public Speaking.

10 locations and their memories for me. 10 Projects in Toastmasters’ International Competent Communicator manual. The roadmap which saw me give a presentation at a network meeting; which was picked up by Grow Leamington as an online article and led to my delivering a keynote speech to the re-launch of Leamington TweetUp at the fabulous Binswood Hall in Leamington.

If you want to set out on your own Presentational Speaking journey contact me, as Vice President Membership: Spa Speakers on 07962 216833 or visit our website http://www.spaspeakers.co.uk