Last Revised: December 27, 2002

At least one week before you speak, you select and review an assignment from a Toastmasters International speech manual, paying special attention to directions, objectives, and criteria which the Evaluator will use to assess your speech. Your presentation should be a “manual speech”, i.e., it should be made with a specific assignment from a manual in mind. If you are unsure how to select an assignment for a given speech, please consult with your mentor. If you do not have one, please contact the vice president education who will help you. To qualify for Best Speaker you must present a manual speech.

Manuals may be purchased from Toastmasters International. In addition, our club has a complete set of manuals for reference purposes. Please ask a Sergeat-at-Arms at any meeting if you want to access this resource. Finally, a summary of all manuals may be found by clicking here.

Your speech does not have to be perfect; Toastmasters is an arena where you can safely make mistakes. However, make a good faith effort to present a speech which meets manual objectives. You will get out of the speech what you put into it.

You begin to write and to practice the speech approximately a week in advance, especially if you are a beginning speaker. If you wait until the day before, you will drive yourself crazy and the quality of your presentation will suffer. When you practice be sure to work with a clock to help ensure that you will speak within your time limit. Unless you have made special arrangements with the vice president education and/or Toastmaster well in advance, your time limit must not exceed nine minutes. To qualify for Best Speaker you must speak within the time limit. If you need help, contact your mentor. If you don’t have one, contact the vice president education, who will assist you.

Early in the week, the Toastmaster will confirm your participation by e-mail or phone. Be sure to return his/her message or call in a timely manner. He/she will need the names of your manual and assignment, specific objectives (from the manual), time limit, and title of speech. Avoid selecting a boring cliché as your speech title, e.g., “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine”, “How to Overcome Fear”, or “How My Mom Loved Me”. Instead, capture the attention of your audience by using an imaginative title.

Note: If the Toastmaster does not contact you by Monday, be sure to contact him/her yourself. If, by chance, you cannot speak you must find a substitute. For instructions on how to do so, click here.

Early in the week, the Evaluator of your speech will also contact you. This is your opportunity to ask the him/her to listen and/or look for anything special. If the evaluator does not contact you by Tuesday, you may wish to contact him/her yourself.

On the day of your presentation, you arrive early, touch base with the Toastmaster, and give your manual to the Evaluator. If you have any special needs, e.g., removal of the lectern from the speaking area, placement of a flip chart, positioning of props, etc., discuss them with the Toastmaster before the meeting begins. If you have a videotape, you give it to the Videographer before the meeting begins. If you do not have one, you may purchase one from the Treasurer for $3. However, using your own tape is a good idea; you can put all your speeches and evaluations on one tape for easy review. In addition, occasionally the club may me out of tapes.

Prior to introduction, be sure you are wearing the wireless microphone, unless you want to pratice vocal projection without it. However, know that without the microphone, the audio portion of the videotape of your presentation will be less clear.

During the speech, keep an eye on the timing lights. Green means you have met the minimum time and qualify for Best Speaker. Yellow means that you must soon wrap up. Red means that you must wrap up now . If the lights go out you have seriously exceeded your time limit, are disqualified from Best Speaker, and may be asked to stop by the Toastmaster. For details about exactly when lights will come on, click here, and look on “Formal Speech”.

At the conclusion of your presentation you return control to the Toastmaster and give the wireless microphone to the next speaker.

During the evaluation segment of the meeting you pay careful attention to the Evaluator of your presentation. He/she will give his/her opinion concerning some of the strengths and weaknesses of it, and suggest ways to improve. Listen to him/her carefully and with an open mind.

Always remember, however, that the public evaluation comprises one person’s opinion only. Sometimes evaluators make mistakes; they are human beings. Therefore, read the brief evaluations by other members, which you receive on slips of paper from the Sergeant-at-Arms prior to the end of the meeting. If the Evaluator said, e.g., that you utterly lacked vocal variety, but lots of members wrote that you had great vocal variety, the Evaluator may have made a mistake. Also, read the Evaluator’s detailed comments in your manual. Typically the Evaluator cannot say everything he/she would like to say within the time constraints of the public evaluation. If, after careful consideration, you think an Evaluator has made a mistake you may wish to discuss it frankly with him/her.

After the meeting, at your convenience, you watch the video recording of your speech. This is one of the best ways to learn how you appear to others when presenting and Hardhats is one of few Toastmasters clubs that videotapes speeches; therefore, takes advantage of this valuable learning tool.