The Secret to a winning speech

“Why am I not winning speech competitions?” I asked myself.

I had been taking part in Toastmasters speaking competitions for 2 years but was not progressing beyond the club level into Area, Division or even District level.
Something was missing in my speaking. Something that I needed to change.
The advantage of being a Toastmaster is that everyone pitches in to help you improve as a speaker. So now that I was stuck I decided to seek help from fellow Toastmasters.

I met up with Phil Heath and asked him for tips on how to improve as a speaker.

“The simplest way to dramatically improve your speaking is to pause” He said and paused.

I waited with bated breath to hear more.

Then he smiled and continued “Pause and smile. Grabs the attention of the listener”

He paused again.

“If you can practise and replace your filler words (like your ahs.. and umss..and you know) with a pause and a smile, you will have the audience latching on to every word you say. Just focus on this for your next couple of speeches” he said.

There is something in the way Phil speaks – an easy, gentle relaxing tone and an innovative wit which I have always admired. Phil has achieved the highest goal within Toastmasters. He is a Distinguished Toastmaster. I consider myself lucky to be in a club with three Distinguished Toastmasters.

I absorbed Phil’s words and worked on my speech. During the Autumn 2009 Humorous speaking contest, I took my speech about Gurning right upto the Division level. All because of one simple secret “Pause and smile”. Unfortunately I was not placed in the Division level but I was happy as I had done my best and was beaten by some excellent speakers.

My next goal is to reach the District 71 speech humorous speech contest. Is there another secret to great speeches?

Time to talk to Toastmasters again – Michael, Phil, Anthony, Trevor where art thou?

Dinesh Kaulgud
ACB, CL – Leeds City Toastmasters