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How to be Heard

“Here at Toastmasters, we live and die by our presentation successes and failures. The intros can have a massive impact how the audience reacts to the speech. I’m so pleased to welcome Laura McHarrie, a Distinguished Toastmaster and a consummate network facilitator. Laura has facilitated over 400 BusinessXchange networking events not to mention the meetings where she has been THE Toastmaster of the Evening.  This is a speaking role with a difference. 

Have you ever cringed when an MC introduces a speaker with that old cliche “Without further ado … yes?” In her speech tonight, Laura is going to share some significant insights & terrific tips to help us build a repertoire of Speaker Introductions. With her speech entitled How to be Heard, please welcome Laura McHarrie”

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression … Madam Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters … Don’t leave your speech introduction to the Toastmaster of the evening because you COULD end up with something like …

“Without further ado, let me introduce our next speaker, Laura McHarrie, we found her on the internet – let’s hope she’s as good as she says she is.”

eeek! It doesn’t exactly enhance your chance to connect with your audience. Does it?  The introduction, however, can.

This project is about recognising our communication preferences.  I chose to research how we can craft an introduction that captures the interest of everyone in the audience from the outset.

Over the many years I have been in management I have worked my way through a myriad of personality trait questionnaires.  The way I see it is …

I was born an Analytic – a true blue personality, preferring my own space, one special friend in real life, the “famous five” in pretend.  As I grew up and out of my shell, I learned how to connect well with others, mirroring their style of communication.  I didn’t know that that’s what I was doing at the time, but this Green personality and Supportive style allowed me to ‘fit’ in with several diverse groups of friends. 

When I started work in the retail trade as a Department Manager designate, I soon learnt that decision making, goal setting, results achievement were the new language of the day.  A very Direct red personality style. 

To this day the yellow Initiating personality style escapes me.  Speaking off the cuff, impromptu speaking, active and experiential learning – frighten the life out of me.  I become the proverbial “rabbit in the headlights”.  I love listening to creative thinkers, they spark my interest, my curiosity, and intrigue.  I just can’t do it by myself.

The thing is – in this room we can look around and see that there are all four of these personality types sitting here waiting to be engaged. How do we connect with our audience quickly when we don’t know how each are going to respond?

Introducing the Intro …

In a one minute introduction we have 130 words, in which to craft something that is going to  resonate with all the audience.  It needs to Focus, Endorse, Intrigue, and Connect.

The Red Direct wants Focus – what am I going to get out of this?

The Analytic Blue wants Credibility- why should I believe that you are the one to tell me this?

The Yellow Initiator wants to be excited – don’t mind about the above so long as I get to learn some thing new, exciting and experiential

The Supportive Green, well, the Green just wants to connect. 

The first three the Toastmaster can do with words:

FOCUS: “Here at Toastmasters, we live and die by our presentation successes and failures. The intros can have a massive impact how the audience reacts to the speech.”

ENDORSE: “Laura McHarrie, a Distinguished Toastmaster and a consummate network facilitator. Laura has facilitated over 400 BusinessXchange networking events not to mention the meetings where she has been THE Toastmaster of the Evening.”

INTRIGUE: “This is a speaking role with a difference.  Laura is going to share some significant insights & terrific tips to help us build a repertoire of Speaker Introductions.”

CONNECT: This the Toastmaster does with the handshake.  It gives the audience the sense that it has met the speaker close up, because the TM is the representative of the audience. When the speaker and introducer shake hands, a bond is formed with the audience.  In addition the handshake indicates the transfer of power and the audience’s attention.

I have truly found this project fascinating.  Like I have said I have done myriad personality  questionnaires … but I have never applied the learning to something as specific as my speech introduction.  And yet, fellow Toastmasters, we can hear how powerful it truly is.   

Let’s plan carefully about how we wish to be introduced, and more importantly how we wish to be heard by “everyone” in the room.

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Note:  Adapted from a HBR blogpost by Deborah Grayson Riegel and a comment from Philip Leunge. Toastmaster’s personality questionnaire.

Purpose Statements

■ The purpose of this project is for the member to learn about different communication styles and identify his or her primary style.

■ The purpose of this speech is for the member to share the impact of his or her style on others. Notes for the Evaluator

During the completion of this project, the member responded to a questionnaire to help identify his or her communication style.

About this speech:

  • The member will deliver a well-organized speech about some aspect of communication styles.
  • The member may choose to speak about his or her own communication style or the impact of communication styles on him or her.
  • The speech may be humorous, informational, or any style the member chooses.
  • The speech should not be a report on the content of the “Understanding Your Communication Style” project.
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