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What Top Leaders can Learn from Toastmasters

It amazes me how often I see a CEO or any other C-level executive that runs a company that manages dozens or even hundreds of employees do a poor job of public speaking. In no particular order, here are my top 5 of the biggest mistakes these leaders make and how Toastmasters can help them out.

#1. Relying too much on a teleprompter
In Toastmasters, we’re taught to ad-lib our speech so we can connect with the audience more. No one likes to see a presenter nodding their head down and reading off a teleprompter. But this was exactly what I saw when I was watching a presentation of a speaker at a conference. The speaker had to pause so they could see the next screen of what they were trying to say. Not only did the audience lose interest but some of them turned to their phones and laptops as they felt the speaker wasn’t connecting with the audience.

#2. Using filler words such as ‘umm’s’, ‘like’s’ and ‘so’s’ etc.
Most of us are guilty of using filler words. In Toastmasters, we’re reminded of them and how can improve. By speaking in front of an audience and pacing ourselves appropriately we can reduce the amount of filler words. I learned a while back that there’s nothing wrong with taking a brief pause to collect your thoughts for the next sentence you want to speak rather than trying to fill that silence with a filler word.

#3. Hardly engaging the audience
Sure you might have enthusiasm and excitement about your product/service while up on stage. But if the audience feels they’re in ‘listen only’ mode all the time they might tune out. When you’re a Toastmaster, you learn all sorts of various techniques to draw your audience in such as: asking a question and getting the response of the audience, getting the audience to do something such a quick exercise that let’s them experience what you want to teach, stirring up emotion through your words etc. When you engage your audience, they’ll be more moved by your words and remember what you had to say.

#4. Looking at their Powerpoint/slideshow screen while presenting
I’ve seen this numerous times where the speaker won’t know where they are discussing their slide. They’ll turn towards the screen and try to figure if they should continue on the same slide or move to the next one. Great speakers always know where they are in their presentation and even have mental cues for themselves. Too many C-level executive rely on their presentation to get them through. There’s no better way to disengage an audience then turning your back towards them and speaking to the screen.

#5. Not using vocal variety effectively.
I’ve seen some CEO’s possess an incredible amount of knowledge because they know their company very well but they sound robotic, monotone and show no inflection in their voice. Vocal variety is a skill that takes practice. But when mastered in Toastmaster it can help your audience understand which points are important. It can move your audience and most importantly not put them to sleep.

If you’d like to learn more how Toastmasters can help you out, visit us at Blossoming Voices Toastmasters.