Last night at my Toastmasters meeting I won an in-club Tall Tale contest. It was fun to do it. And good for my ego to win.
Yet, a quiet voice is also saying… you aren’t there for your ego.
I took a family story about my grandfather’s false teeth falling down an ice fishing hole – exaggerated it, added lots of body language, played with my voice. The crowd loved it.
In truth it wasn’t a huge stretch for me. I come from a long tradition of story tellers. I’ve done Second City improv. I’m funny.
The achievement was pushing the boundaries on some of the skills I’ve learned in the past year at Toastmasters. Specifically, body language and vocal variety. Delivering a Tall Tale you exaggerate both.
Yet, a quiet voice inside said I actually got more out of a business speech I did in a TM session last April. Even though that speech bombed a bit.
I packed too much into the business speech. I overwhelmed the mixed audience. A big thing that I am learning at Toastmasters is that when speaking less is more. I’m learning that’s an “expert” mistake. Experts want to give all the information they can. But the audience can’t absorb a firehose.
My intention was that the 5–7-minute business speech would be the basis for a 20–30-minute talk. Yet, I erred on the side of completeness of covering the full topic and skipped the examples. I skipped the stories. I also skipped slides, which would have helped.
To get it all in I rushed my delivery.
The benefit of doing this at a Toastmaster’s session is that another member evaluates your speeches. That’s the gold of being a Toastmaster member.
My evaluator that night, Carol, was both encouraging and gave me real points to consider. As well, she took the time to have a one-on-one conversation about it later.
The evaluation was actionable feedback that will further my speaking goals outside of Toastmasters. Specific goals to get better as a speaker, in-person and on video.
Yes, the two types of events are different. The tall tales contest is meant to be fun, and it was. And it did help me use the skills I’m learning in a comfortable way.
In some ways a team building exercise is a good analogy for the Tall Tales contest. The purpose behind team building activities is so that team will work together well. Yet, if every day that you went into work there was a team building activity, then no work would get done! Team building activities are good to do on occasion and then apply the benefits gained to every day working.
A goal for my business speaking is that I better engage the audience. Not with comedy of course. But using storytelling, vocal variation, and body language to get my points across.
I want to get to the level where the crowd loves my business talks as much as they loved my Tall Tale!