Video: “Concluding Your Speech” by Diane Diamantis

Video Tactics for Toastmasters

At Club Awesome, we use video mostly as a teaching tool. Many members want to be able to see the video of their own performance without it being public – they just want to see what they did right and wrong, so they can do it better next time. However, when a member gives a speech they’re proud of and want to share, we will make it public at their request or sometimes ask their permission to make it public. This can be a real asset when we’re trying to promote ourselves (for example, in the run up to an open house).

Here’s an example of a Facebook post featuring the video of an educational speech one of our members gave on better use of body language:

Facebook promo with an embedded YouTube video
Facebook promo with an embedded YouTube video

A few notes on how we manage this program:

  • When we upload videos into YouTube, we put them into the system as “unlisted” by default (as opposed to public or private). This is an in-between status where the video will not show up in searches or listings on the YouTube website. However, we can send out a list of links to these videos to our email list. If a member wants to share the link with a friend or relative, they can do so. This is not iron-clad security, but it’s good enough for most members.
  • I always include a reminder about our video policy in the email, reassuring members that we will not publish the video to the world without their permission.
  • Members can request we turn the camera off if they prefer not to be video recorded at all.
  • When we do get permission to make a video public, we can share it on Facebook just by pasting the web address from YouTube into the message box. Facebook automatically creates a preview image of the video, and Facebook users can view it either within the Facebook feed or by clicking through to youtube.com.
  • Facebook will only generate a preview for one link. To create the promo shown above I first pasted in the link to the YouTube video, adding it to the body of the post. Once the preview of the video is generated (something Facebook does automatically), you don’t really need the text of the link to be in the body of the post, so I edited it out. I then added the link to our Open House event listing, leaving that one in the body of the post. In this case, I linked to the event page on Facebook, but I could just have easily have linked to our club’s website.
  • Facebook displays videos a little more prominently if you upload your video directly into Facebook, rather than pasting in a YouTube link. But pasting in the YouTube link is less work if you’ve already uploaded the video to YouTube. So weigh the trade-off.

Again, the primary use of video in our club is as a teaching tool. If your evaluator told you not to do some awkward thing with body language, you can go back and see how that looked, or whether you had the vocal variety you were aiming for. Sooner or later, you’ll start going back to the video and being proud of what you see.

Sharing vs. Publicizing

The technique that has worked well for me is to upload videos to YouTube, but tag them as “unlisted” rather than “public.” There is also a “private” status, but it’s more difficult to work with in the mode I’m describing. An unlisted video does not show up in searches and people browsing YouTube will not just stumble across it — you have to have the link.

Setting a YouTube video to "unlisted"
Setting a YouTube video to “unlisted”

I send a listing of the links to all the videos to the club, with an explanation that it’s our policy not to share the videos more widely without permission. I have done something similar for area and district contests, although in that case I use a more formal video release form.

Recording Good Video

The biggest pitfall of recording a speech video is audio, not video — if you have the camera too far away from the speaker, viewers of the video will not be able to hear what the speakers are saying. A speech video without the speech part is not very useful. Unless you are working with a professional camera equipped with a sensitive directional antenna, you will have to arrange to have your camera close to the stage or speaking area.

You do not need an expensive camera. In fact, the camera in your phone will do in a pinch if you can manage to hold the camera steady. Remember to hold the camera horizontally for a TV-like aspect ratio. Smartphone cameras have gotten good enough that you might consider buying a tripod adapter for phones, rather than investing in a video camera. Either way, a tripod makes it much easier to get a steady image.

Here is a tripod adapter I got for less than $8 on Amazon. It’s just a spring-loaded clip that holds onto your phone, with a mount on the bottom that screws into a standard tripod.

phone-adapter
Tripod adapter for smart phones.

Pan the camera back and forth just enough to keep the speaker in the frame. I usually leave the camera’s zoom control zoomed to the widest view to minimize the need to pan.

Editing and Uploading Videos

Even when recording video from my phone, I usually copy the video file to a PC and upload it to YouTube (or sometimes directly to Facebook) from there. Check the documentation for your phone or camera, or search the web, for tips on how to do that.

You may or may not need to edit the video before uploading it. You may wind up with a recording that includes content that’s not really part of the speech, such as moments a contestant spent shaking the contest master’s hand and getting in position. Trimming that material will give you a stronger video. There are free video editors available for both Macs and Windows that will let you select a few seconds of video to shave off the beginning and the end of your video clip.

Computer software may also help you upload the speeches more efficiently than if you just went through the web interface on YouTube. YouTube also allows you to specify a speech title and a description. Be sure to provide the context: that this speech is from a Toastmasters speech contest, at what level, and where. In the description, I suggest also including the name of the club, along with the club’s website address.

Video is a great way to show people what Toastmasters is all about. Make the most of it.

Body Language Training for Toastmasters by Frank Kudrna

One of the most important parts of public speaking isn’t about speaking at all, in the sense of making words come out of your mouth. The way you stand, move, gesture, and make (or fail to make) eye contact with your audience can make or break a speech or professional presentation. In this educational presentation, Club Awesome member Frank Kudrna explains what Toastmasters teaches about improving your use of body language.

Writing and Rewriting the Speech: Lincoln

By David F. Carr, President, Club Awesome

I’m sharing this for the sake of those who are interested in the process of writing, rewriting, and improving a speech. As a writer, I approach this differently than others who work from a loose outline or plan their speeches in their heads. I do tend to do script them out pretty thoroughly, although I don’t necessarily deliver them exactly as scripted. I tend to write, then rehearse, then rewrite after figuring out which words or phrases I stumble over or don’t like once I hear them spoken.

For “Lincoln the Politician,” the speech I gave Friday at our club contest (video), this was a particularly long process. I gave the original version of this speech in early 2012. When a few club members told me I should make it a contest speech, I originally didn’t see how that was going to work because it started out as an 8-10 minute speech and how could I possibly cut it down? In the long run, I found that cutting it down to the essentials made it stronger. There was one laugh line I really hated to lose, but it consistently made me run over time.

I’m currently working on strengthening the ending, both in wording and delivery, so the current version I’m sharing below includes changes I made a few minutes ago, as part of my preparation for the Area Contest. If you’d like to see the changes between the original and current versions, you can look at this document showing deleted text crossed out and additions underlined: LincolnRevisions.pdf

Words in bold are ones I particularly wanted to emphasize.

Original version from early 2012:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Mrs. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and welcome guests. Those are the words President Abraham Lincoln is best known for, at the dedication of the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg. That was in November 1863, while the Civil War was still raging. It was a great speech about the value of freedom and the struggle to achieve it. It was also a part of a long, faltering political process.

Earlier that year, Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the union – only the states in rebellion. If you were in a loyal union state and owned slaves, you could keep them. The bargain between North and South for the preservation of slavery was written into the Constitution Lincoln was sworn to uphold.

That changed with the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, which Lincoln made part of the Republican Party platform in his 1864 reelection campaign. By the time it became law in 1865, Lincoln was already dead – assassinated less than a week after General Lee surrendered on behalf of the Confederacy.

Lincoln said, “If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.” Yet as a politician, he often danced around the issue of what to do about it.

He had a sense of humor about his political instincts, just as he did about his physical appearance. When someone accused him of being two-faced, Lincoln said, “If I was two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

For a long time, Lincoln thought about slavery in the South in something like the way we think of injustice in another country. We disapprove, but they are sovereign states and we can’t control how they govern themselves internally. But there was friction over the opening of new states in the West and whether they would be slave or free.

Lincoln wasn’t eager for conflict, but he saw it coming. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” he told the Illinois Republican convention. “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

That was the year he ran for U.S. Senate and had his famous debates against Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas would roll into town in a private rail car, looking every inch the incumbent in a fine blue suit. Lincoln traveled in an ordinary passenger car so he could talk to voters. He made a point of dressing in plain, everyday clothes. Douglas would bow with a flourish. Lincoln was all elbows and knees and folded like a jackknife. Douglas had a deep, authoritative voice. Lincoln spoke in a tenor, and his voice cracked when he tried to project.

Douglas promoted a doctrine of popular sovereignty, meaning the voters in each state would decide very democratically whether it should be slave or free. Lincoln wanted to confine slavery to the South and keep it out of federal territories.

Lincoln may have been an abolitionist at heart, but he spent a lot of time denying it that year. To one hostile crowd, he said, “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bring about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” Asked about intermarriage, he said, “I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone.”

On the other hand, in that same series of debates, he said “the entire records of the world, from the date of the Declaration of Independence … may be searched in vain for one single affirmation, from one single man, that the negro was not included in the Declaration of Independence.”

The contradiction between ideals and reality had bothered Lincoln for a long time. Years before, he had written to his friend and business partner Joshua Speed, “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ ”

Lincoln lost his race for the Senate but came back two years later to win the White House in 1860. Even though he denied being an abolitionist, he was close enough to it that his election pushed the Confederate states into rebellion. Lincoln considered it his job to bring them back. When the newspaper editor Horace Greely urged him to free the slaves immediately, Lincoln wrote back:

If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.

That was August 1862. What Lincoln didn’t tell Greeley was that he had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation and was just waiting for a Union victory before he announced it. Given the politics and the constitutional law of the time, he had to be able to justify it as an act of war, not as a moral act. And to have the support of people, he wanted to make it look like a move made from a position of strength, not desperation.

Yes, Lincoln was a politician, who sometimes talked out both sides of his mouth. By modern standards, we might consider him a racist because he never asserted that black people were truly equal, in terms of intelligence or abilities. What he did believe was that we all deserve an equal chance to make the best use of the gifts we have been given – a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Current version, planned for Feb. 2 area contest:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Contest master, Toastmasters, and guests, those are the words President Abraham Lincoln is best known for, from the dedication of the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg in November 1863. The Gettysburg Address was a stirring oration about freedom and the struggle to achieve it. It was also part of a long, faltering political process.

Earlier that year, Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the union – only the states in rebellion. If you were in a loyal border state and owned slaves, you could keep them – at least for now. The bargain for the preservation of slavery was written into the Constitution Lincoln was sworn to uphold.

Of course, he changed that by pushing through the 13th Amendment, which is the drama of Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln movie. But if you read a more complete biography, like the one by David Herbert Donald, you realize Lincoln was slow to embrace abolition as a practical political goal.

“If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong,” Lincoln said. Yet for many years he thought about slavery in the South the way we might think of injustice in other countries. We disapprove, but they are sovereign states and we can’t control how they govern themselves internally. Lincoln hoped to confine slavery to the states where it already existed and phase it out gradually.

The problem with trying to be a moderate on this issue was that America’s expansion to the West created friction – and sometimes violence – about whether new states would be slave or free.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln told an early Republican convention. “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

The U.S. Senator from Illinois, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, wanted to let the voters in each state decide, very democratically, whether to allow slavery. When Lincoln challenged Douglas, their famous debates showed the contrast between the two. Douglas would roll into town in a private rail car, looking every inch the incumbent in a fine blue suit. Lincoln dressed plainly and traveled in an ordinary passenger car so he could talk to voters. Douglas would bow with a flourish. Lincoln was all elbows and knees and folded like a jackknife. Douglas had a booming, authoritative voice. Lincoln spoke in a tenor, his voice cracking when he tried to project.

Lincoln spent a lot of time distancing himself from abolitionists that year. To one hostile crowd in Southern Illinois, he said, “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bring about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” On the hot button issue of intermarriage, he said, “I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone.”

In that same series of debates, he also said, “the entire records of the world, from the date of the Declaration of Independence … may be searched in vain for one single affirmation, from one single man, that the negro was not included in the Declaration of Independence.”

He had a sense of humor about his flexibility on the issues. When someone accused him of being two-faced, Lincoln said, “If I was two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

Lincoln never did make it to the Senate, but he came back to win the presidency in 1860, edging out Douglas in a messy four-way race. Though he did not call himself an abolitionist, he was close enough to it that his election pushed the Confederate states into rebellion. Lincoln considered it his job to bring them back. To maintain popular support for the war, he had to continually rebut charges that it was all about slavery. When the newspaper editor Horace Greely urged him to free the slaves immediately, Lincoln wrote a letter to the Editor:

If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.

What Lincoln didn’t tell Greely was he already had a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation sitting on his desk. He was just waiting for a union victory so he could announce it from a position of strength. Given the politics of the time, he had to be able to justify it as an act of war, not as a moral act.

Lincoln was a politician, who spoke quite fluently out both sides of his mouth. By modern standards, he may also have been a racist. We know he told some racist jokes. He opposed slavery because it was cruel, not necessarily because he believed black people were truly equal in terms of intelligence or abilities. He made the point that equality under the law did not mean all people were identical. Some would always be smarter, stronger, or prettier. What he did believe was that we all deserve an equal chance to make the best use of whatever gifts God has given us – a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Note: I’m practicing several versions of the final paragraph, so that I can do a longer version or a shorter version depending on whether I’ve gotten the red light. I felt I rushed through the conclusion a little too much in our club contest, so for the area contest I’ve challenged myself to make the best use of my time without running over.

Video: The Art of Effective Evaluations

This educational presentation by Bruce Pockey and Lois Margolin focuses on how to prepare and present entertaining and useful evaluations.

Following this presentation, Bruce Pockey gave a sample speech (with some built-in, intentional flaws) for Club Awesome members to provide some of the feedback they would have given him in an evaluation. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capture that part of the conversation.

PowerPoint Shortcuts for Toastmasters

As we discussed on Friday, there are a couple of scenarios where it would be helpful to blank out the PowerPoint screen, without actually turning off the slide projector:

  • You’ve gone through the process of making sure your slides are set up properly, but now we’re entering a portion of the meeting where it’s not appropriate to have them showing on the screen. However, if you turn off the projector, then you will have to fumble with getting it warmed up again when you’re ready to start the presentation.
  • You’re at the end of your speech — or at a break when the focus has shifted to audience discussion — and you don’t want the slides to be a distraction for the audience. So you want to stop the slideshow, but reserve the option of going back to your slides at a moment’s notice.

You can read a more detailed explanation, but the essential point to remember is “b for black (or blank)” and “w for white.”

When you are in presentation mode, with your slides all ready to go, you can press the key for the letter “b” and the screen will go blank. Press any other key, and your slideshow will reappear. Pressing “w” for a white screen works the same way.

The other shortcut you might want to be familiar is F5 (one of the function keys at the top of the keyboard) for starting a slideshow. This toggles you from editing mode to presentation mode. To exit your presentation and go back to editing mode, press the ESC key.

F5 will start the presentation from the beginning. If you want to restart your presentation from the current slide, you can press Shift-F5.

You don’t not have to remember all these things to do a PowerPoint presentation because all these things can also be done through various menus and buttons. But if you can remember them, they can be handy shortcuts.

I found a bunch more PowerPoint pointers and links on a New Zealand district Toastmasters site.