Can I deliver a speech unprepared?

That was the question I was trying to answer at my third Toastmaster’s session today. My favourite segment of Toastmaster is the table topics segment, because I get to deliver speeches unprepared. However, I wanted to push it today. Can I deliver a 5–7mins speech being unprepared?

Preparation:

I chose a topic close to heart where I talked about my experience of “Doing Something Everyday for A Year”. Here are the rules for the challenge:

#1 — I can only write the script one week before the Chapter Meeting.
#2 — I can only rehearse it 3 times before the Meeting.
#3 — I can refer to the script, but script can only be in point form.

Presentation:

Butterflies rampaged in my stomach, as usual, before the delivery of any presentation. To manage that, I tried these techniques to help keep my cool. First, I kept my sentences short and to the point because I tend to elaborate and run off course when I am less prepared. Second, I implemented personal stories to make my speech more personal and relatable. I utilised the stories to draw out one main point. Lastly, I only utilised two stories due to the time constraint as I wanted to fully develop my pointers in the speech.

My personal reflections after the speech was that I delivered it well, but some area for improvement for myself are as follows:

  • Maintain eye contact with the camera: When I am nervous, my eyes dart around.
  • Audience Engagement: I need be connected with the audience by watching their reactions and reacting accordingly.
  • Staying Calm!

Before going to the feedback, let’s talk about the word of the day: Pollyanna.

Pollyanna: A person characterised by irrepressible optimism and tendency to find good in everything.

General Feedback:

I noticed that the audience was relatively engaged throughout the speech and most caught the gist of my speech. However, I was too fast. Therefore, I should definitely slow down.

Table Topics:

Table topics was interesting as usual. My topic was “It is not what you have, but how you use it, that brings about happiness”. Content wise, I was able to substantiate my point well and I reacted in a very calm manner. What could have been better would have been structure. I should have used the PEEL or Pro/Con method to better frame my answer. I was say this was a good attempt

Learning Pointers:

Here are some takeaway pointers from the other members of the Collide Club.

  • Using APP (Analogy, Pauses, Power of 3): One member, Max, used these 3 literary devices very well. He spoke slowly and was extremely relatable. In my next speech, I should explore using analogies and rhetoric devices to improve and beautify my speeches.
  • Importance of good audio: Today, I got reminded of the importance of good audio when communicating online. Good audio is a make-or-break; it determines the engagement of the audience when you speak. Therefore, I find it extremely important to invest in a good audio mic for important meetings, because the difference in audio quality can be the factor in higher engagements.

All in all, this was a good and engaging Chapter Meeting. I managed to learn a lot from this event and for my next opportunity, I would want to practice impromptu presentations, but this time, with more rhetoric devices and a slower pace. Let’s get this!

Jing Kai

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