15 Jul

Joke of the Evening — present it in comedy style!

The “Joke of th Evening” is part of most Toastmasters meetings. It’s an oportunity to train your skill in providng BASF Toastmasters Germany presentation joke fun comedy blog public speaking formulahumor to the audience. Many jokes consist of one finishing punchline. At BASF Toastmasters we recently had a different kind of presentation. Kathrin Isenhuegel, members of our BASF Toastmasters, presented a joke in comedy style with contradicting comparisons about everyday people where the audience saw themselves in both, the set-up and the punch lines.

Two new additions to the periodic table of elements

Element Name: WOMANIUM
Symbol: WO
Atomic Weight: (don’t even go there)
Physical properties: Generally soft and round in form. Boils at nothing and may freeze any time. Melts when treated properly. Very bitter if not used well.
Chemical properties: Very active. Highly unstable. Possesses Strong affinity with gold, silver, platinum, and precious stones. Violent when left alone. Able to absorb great amounts of exotic food. Turns BASFTM_20140714_Chem_Original_689471Tim Reckmann_pixelio-deslightly green when placed next to a better specimen.
Usage: Highly ornamental. An extremely good catalyst for dispersion of wealth. Probably the most powerful income reducing agent known.
Caution: Highly explosive in inexperienced hands!

Element Name: MANIUM
Symbol: XY
Atomic Weight: (180 +/- 50)
Physical properties: Solid at room temperature, but gets bent out of shape easily. Fairly dense and sometimes flaky. Difficult to find a pure sample. Due to rust, aging samples are unable to conduct Electricity as easily as younger samples.
Chemical properties: Attempts to bond with WO any chance it can get. Also tends to form strong bonds with itself. Becomes explosive when mixed with KD (Element: CHILDIUM) for prolonged periods of time. Neutralize by saturating with alcohol.
Usage: None known. Possibly good methane source. Good samples are able to produce large quantities on command.
Caution: In the absence of WO, this element rapidly decomposes and begins to smell.

sources: http://www.jokebuddha.com, Tim Reckmann / pixelio.de

02 Jun

Make them say “Yes” (2/2)

As a speaker you try to convince the audience of your opinion. They should agree to the major views of the speech. Apart from the contents there are certain techniques that can be uses for to create a feeling of firm conviction. Proceeding one of the previous posts I’d like to give some more suggestions that are based on Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion.

Liking or “just be nice”

Have you heard that a waiter in a restaurant can increase the tip simply by adding another peppermint sweet to the bill in front of the customers? Showing sympathy to someone increases your chance that she / he will agree with your own needs. So try to buil a good relationship to your audience. How can you do so if you have just limited time in your speach? Some ideas:

  • use positive body language techniques,
  • share something personal with the audience that makes them feel special
  • show appreciation that people came along to listen to your speech.

Authority or “the prove by power”

Usually we tend to follow people in positions of authority, we feel more obliget to accept what they say. Most of us will do what our managers request us to do or agree with someone who is in a high position.
For this reason try to find a prominent and outstanding personality of your point of view or your proposal. Got a quote or an example given or experience by a well known person with best reputation? Brilliant — take her / him to strengthen your thesis.

Scarcity or “now or never”

If people have the feeling that they might miss something if not acting immediately they decide quicker. To pile pressure on customers limited stock or closing dates for special offers are announced to gain a buying decision on the spot. That way you can influence your audience if you expect them to support your idea or project. By exposing an urgent problem that can (only) be solved by your suggestion your audience will likely agree. When speaking in front of a decision-making body point out the need for a clear and positive decision.

Give it a try, working with the specified techniques will make the audience agree to the strong points and ideas of your speech!

pictures:
Jetti Kuhlemann / pixelio.de
Tim Reckmann / pixelio.de

16 Apr

“PS: I Love You” or How I Broke the Ice

A post by our co-blogger and member of BASF Toastmasters Subhamoy Bhattacharya.   
Quite aptly the first speech for a new member in a Toastmasters Club is called “The Ice Breaker“. The competent communication manual mentions that in this “project” the speaker introduces him/herself to the audience and also gives them some information about his/her ambitions/interests and background. Below are some excerpts from the speech I delivered which might be helpful for some future Ice Breakers 🙂

Since I find it a bit awkward in general speaking about “myself” (maybe its a cultural aspect I am still to overcome), I decided to narrate a few anecdotes from my life and in the process outline my experiments with public speaking in the short 6 minute speech cryptically titled: P.S. I Love You

My first experience in public speaking came at the early age of a few days. A week after my birth I was “displayed” in front of my relatives and since I was too overwhelmed by all the attention, I didn’t manage to “say” anything. My audience returned disappointed. Lesson learnt: “Audience is everything, keep them engaged”.

My second experience came during my school days in Kolkata (India) when I for the first time faced a “real” audience for the inter-class debate competition. I was selected to represent my class and had 7 days to prepare a speech and deliver in front of a 50 member strong audience. Sounds like an easy job now, but would have been impossible had it not been for my first unofficial speech writer: Dad. He wrote, I learnt and delivered on D-Day the mugged up version. The audience cheered, I came second and learnt the second lesson: In a speech “Content is king”.

With experience and exposure, I very soon was a confident debater still mostly using learnt material to deliver speeches. This changed one fine day when in a fit of excitement during an external visit to another school I forgot my lines. I stumbled, fumbled and luckily could come up with something completely new but thankfully relevant to the theme faring not so bad in the end. I learnt pretty quickly my lesson this time: A good speech should have elements of “Improvisation”.

The next lesson I learnt came during my days in College when as part of the Dramatics team I used to stage plays and sometimes used improvisation in the dialogue delivery styles to make the audience laugh. With the limited independence I got in terms of improvisation during those days I realised interestingly that I derived energy from the laughter of the audience and an aspect I later successfully transferred to my speeches as well. Lesson learnt: “Humor” is to a speech what oxygen is to life.

My final learning experience so far was at the Inter-University debate competition when in a foreign location, devoid of supporters and in front of other seemingly favourite speeches I stuck to the basics, incorporated the above elements and still came out on top. Lesson learnt: “A good speech never fails”.

When people ask me, despite all these experiences so far why I joined Toastmasters, I put on the table two primary reasons:

  • A quote by my favourite public speaker: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” (Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement address 2005).
  • The title of this speech itself: “Public Speaking: I Love You

picture:  Rolf Handke  / pixelio.de / Image-ID: 441778

07 Apr

Your audience is special?!

Different characters can be convinced by different methods. While writing your speech it is important to know characteristics of your audience and to make sure that the style of your presentation and your arguments stay on target.

Of course your audience usually consists of various personalities but ask yourself – do they have something in common, e.g. working in the same field or sharing a similar interest or motivation? Especially in this case take a closer look at them. Finding out the audience’s basic personality type can lead to a special design of your presentation. Some ideas how to develop your speech according to the majority of characters in the audience.

Idealists are sympathetic, helpful, loyal and patient. People of this type like to work together with others to achieve results but don’t have a need to appear in public. You will find idealists especially in caring professions like doctors at a hospital or social workers.

The dos…

  • focus on team orientation,
  • strengthen the sense of togetherness,
  • show care about people within and outside the audience;

the donts…

  • isolate a group or a person,
  • show contrasts (“what is right and what is wrong”).

Scientists, engineers and technicians match above-average to the type of a logician. This personality strives for perfection and is quality conscious. Focussing on facts they want to know possible consequences of activities.

The dos…

  • present facts and statistics,
  • structure your speech,
  • go into details;

the donts…

  • press them for time,
  • demand creativity or a broad variety of alternatives.

A communicator stands out for inspiration and entertainment. This proactive personality is a team player and likes to establish contacts. In shaping the environment she / he tries to involve others. Especially creative people and artists represent this type.

The dos…

  • provide entertainment and humor,
  • show passion,
  • make a creative and colorful presentation;

the donts…

  • scare them with negative conequences,
  • bore with facts and figures.

The dynamic person is usually dominant. Willing to take risks these people are decisive. They want to achieve results and overcome resistance of others. This group of people is highly represented by managers and entrepreneurs.

The dos…

  • show clear goals and visions,
  • be enthusiastic,
  • rise to a challenge;

the donts…

  • be sceptic and ask to many questions,
  • show weakness.

Of course all of this is a rough description and simple categorization of personality types. Nevertheless it can be a guideline when you prepare your speech.

23 Mar

Make them say “Yes” (1/2)

By experimental research Robert Cialdini found out major principles of persuasion. He focussed on the behavior of   “compliance professionals”, e.g. people working in sales, adertising or marketing. People working in these fields find themselves often in a position where they have to persuade their vis-à-vis for a positive decision.

Usually a speaker isn’t in such a “dialogue” situation, but she / he also wants to convince the audience of an opinion or make them agree to the speech content. So why not try to adapt Cialdini’s principles of persuasion to your speech?

Reciprocation or “give & take”

It’s human nature that we respond to try to react in a corresponding matter to someone’s (friendly) gesture or action. This principle is used in sales – you get a taster or a freebie and feel obliged to buy a product or service. As a speaker you usually would not scatter little presents among your audience like pens or pocket lighters.

But sometimes you have prepared a handout of your presentation anyway. So why not handing it on to your audience with a remark like “It was an additional effort for me to prepare this handout / paper but I thought it might be useful for you.” May be you have arranged an object of demonstration or a special simulation to support your speech. Talk about it: “Especially to make it clear for you I have this and that, I hope you like it”. Receiving a “gift” like this makes your audience feel that they are in your debt. The need to “repay” can lead them audience to agree, for example if you need acceptance of a proposal or a project.

Commitment and consistency or “yes, yes, yes”

Once we are dedicated or used to an activity or an attitude we usually remain constant to it. Quite the same is with opinions or commitments.  The challenge is to find a basic opinion or question the audience will easily approve. Have a look at your them main idea or assumption of your speech, is there a part in it acceptable for everyone? Then you can build on this first acceptance and create a chain of agreements that lead to your request.

Let’s make a simple example. If you want to convince your audience to exchange conventional bulbs to energy-efficient lamps you probably won’t succeed with a statement like “You should exchange every bulb in your household immediately!”.  Instead try this one

  1. For sure reduction of CO2 emission is a major challenge of our society.
  2. Do you agree that energy efficiency is a key factor for reduction of CO2 emission?
  3. And everyone can contribute to make energy consuptiom more efficient.
  4. Even small measures are helpful.
  5. It’s clear that it’s up to each and everyone of us to each do something about it.
  6. So a change to a change to energy-efficient lamps can be implemented easily by everyone.

Social proof or “success by imitation”

Our behaviour is mostly orientated to successful patterns we already know. Feeling uncertain about an issue we try to follow proven examples and decide in accordance.

Ask yourself: How do recommondations for a product or a service affect your personal buying decision? So by mentioning successful examples of similar cases in a speech your audience will follow the suggestions you make. Try to provide cases where the concept or the ideas of your presentation were already effective.

pictures:
S. Hofschlaeger  / pixelio.de
Thommy Weiss  / pixelio.de

12 Mar

Proverbs liven up your speech

Speaking freely in a presentation or a key note you will certainly   know the language you are communicating in well. Though, especially in a professional environment, it may not be your mother tongue, it could be for example the country’s lingua franca or English. So you know the content of your speech but want to liven it up?

Of course there are many techniques how you can deliver a lively speech. What about using linguistic idioms? Idioms have several advantages, for example

  • you can use them as a conclusion to point out the main point of the visual type of the language catches the audience,
  • you create a feeling of familiarness if your audience knows the idiom.

Being a non native speaker, how will you find a suitable proverb? You will certainly know a suitable idiom of your mother tongue but usually translating it 1:1 into let’s say English an English / US-American audience won’t understand it. Translation tools like Google Translate come to their limits. You need an expression fitting to the particular context of a pthoroughroverb but not a translation word by word.

Using online dictionaries might be more helpful. Here are some examples I found online:

  • leo.org
    DE Man soll den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben.
    EN Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
  • languagerealm.com
    FR C’est au pied du mur qu’on voit le maçon.
    EN The tree is known by its fruit.
  • pons.com
    ES Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.
    EN Devil take the hindmost.

Including proverbs into your next speech will make it even more lively! Furthermore doing so you show thorough understanding of the language itself.

07 Jan

BASF Toastmasters in 2014

Dear colleagues and Toastmasters,

best wishes for 2014! Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions is to improve your communication skills? Well, you will have to be patient until the end of January because our first meeting this year will be on Monday 01/27.

Everyone is welcome and will participate actively e.g. in Table Topics, presenting the joke of the evening or giving valuable feedback. As a Toastmaster you can proceed in the competent communication program by presenting a prepared speech.

As we want to become a regualar Toastmasters Club: Please spread the word by forwarding this message. Let us know if you need some hardcopies of flyers or material to promote our club to your fellow colleagues.

03 Jan

That’s worth mentioning: New Year’s resolutions

Thinking about a professional development, organising a family reunion, a new hobby? How about becoming a Toastmaster and improving your public speaking skills?

Twice a month members of BASFToastmasters improve their communication skills in many ways. Every club member works step by step through the program of competent communication and competent leadership at his / her own pace. This way everyone becomes more confindent in talking in front of a group. The feedback by every member and the speech evaluations help to identify opportunities for improvement and existing rhetorical skills. Furthermore speaking spontaneously can be learned by participating in Table Topics — short impromptu speeches given on a keyword or a question.

BASFToastmasters belongs to Toastmasters International. Toastmasters was founded in 1924 in the United States. The well-proven Toastmasters concept allows you to learn communication and leadership . Membership in a Toastmasters club is unique and different from other offers of rhetoric training. Good news: If you want to join BASFToastmasters, you only have to pay as little as 6 EUR a month.

Every BASF employee who is interested to get to know Toastmasters is welcome to visit us. Our regular meetings in 2014 start on January 27th. From that on we me meet on the 2nd and 4th Monday each month.

25 Sep

Brochure: More information about BASF Toastmasters & Toastmasters International

We’ve made a little brochure to tell you more about Toastmasters International and the club at The Chemical Company. Read more inside about your benefits of membership, how we conduct the regular Toastmasters’ meetings and about the communication and leadership track.

 

 

 

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19 Sep

BASF Toastmasters starts successfully

On Sep 12th 2013 the Toastmasters at The Chemical Company had the very first meeting. With strong support of Mannheim’s Toastmasters the organizers were able to set up a full agenda. In a positive and friendly atmosphere people who are new to Toastmasters could experience the different parts of a Toastmasters’ evening.

By answering the question “Which item, object or matter has played an important role to you during the last days?” in our round table everybody could improve his / her speaking skills. Furthermore some of the participants had the opportunity to take part in a table topic session. Simple but striking was the idea of our Table Topic Master: Handing over a coin she asked the participant what happened to him / her in the year of the coinage — interesting and entertainig stories came out.

Hye Jin and Patricia presented different speeches of the manual “Competent Communication”. The audience could listen to the experience when visiting Germany for the first time and finding out that there is so much more to discover than just poets and thinkers. Furthermore we learned how ones posture can influence the self confidence.

BASFToastmasters will continue the series of meetings to start a club at BASF. Everyone is welcome to join and to make the Toastmasters experience.