Five levels of presentation

Over my years as a member of Toastmasters and as a professional helping others with their presentation skills I have found five level of development.

First Level: is to be comfortable not only up front of people but also in life in general. When I am upfront I am well aware of my personal concerns and worries about being upfront. As I find my self upfront in a supportive club, overtime I learn to overpower those worries and concerns. When I am less worried and concerned about how others think, while I am up front, I become less worried and concerned about what people think in my daily living. I become more of me which opens the door to the second level.

Second Level: is to become reasonably articulate when upfront. Being articulate is linked to and is a normal follow-on to the first principle. If I am not comfortable it is hard to be articulate. On the contrary though I could be comfortable up front and not particularly articulate. Most people join  Toastmasters to be both comfortable and articulate.  For most of us, being articulate is a learned skill. When we are upfront we are often so self aware and disengaged from the audience, that are words do not really communicate and there is a plethora of “word fillers.” In fact when I am really disengaged I do not care if my words communicate or not. I just want to say the words and get off the platform. I am totally not present.  When I am connecting to the audience my ability to be articulate is high. Toastmasters helps people perfect the skill of getting out of my own head and connecting to the audience.

Third Level: OK, I am comfortable and reasonably articulate, now say something useful, give a logical well organized presentation. Be able to talk from 5-15 minutes and stay on the same story line, no tangents. While presenting the story line stay connected with the audience to determine if they are getting the message. If they get the message, you have succeeded. Staying connected to the audience is often more challenging than learning to present the story. To stay connected I must know my material well enough that I do not need to think so much about what I am going to say, but stay more focused on the readiness of the audience to receive the message.

Fourth Level: There is a principle between being articulate, #3 and being a “world  changers” , #5. The fourth principle is being intentional and passionate about your presentation topic. We hear this level from the TI World Champion Speakers. The speech is said with passion. The passion drives voice inflection and body movement. Each thought is ‘weighed’ and given the intentional emphasis so that the audience receives an impactful message. World Champion speeches are not influential speeches in their intent to get you to do something, but they are influential speeches in their intent to arouse emotion in the audience.

Fifth Level:  Give a message that moves people to action, a world changers. This I find particularly difficult. First I must believe in the topic enough to be willing to be ridiculed. I must believe in the message enough to give the time to follow up with those that do respond to the call for action. I must believe in the message enough to follow my own call to action: integrity. I must believe in my message enough to really sell an idea and be willing to deal with the angst of people feeling uncomfortable about being “sold.”

 Helen Blanchard, PIP, once said, if I get all there is to get out of Toastmasters, I will never get out of Toastmasters. I have been in Toastmasters since the spring of 1989 and I am still growing.

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