Toastmasters speech no.9: Stand up comedy, the hard sell

Last night I performed the ninth speech in my Competent Communicator manual. The objectives of this speaking project are to “persuade with power”. It’s the sixth Toastmasters speech I’ve done. I delivered it out of order because my club needed someone to persuade people to take part in our stand up comedy evening.

It was very cheeky to count this as a manual speech as I delivered it at the beginning of the meeting rather than in a regular speaking slot. This meant it didn’t receive an oral evaluation and I didn’t get any audience feedback slips. However the club president was happy to fill out my manual, so that’s another speech in the bag!

My personal objective for this speech was to try to present in a more conversational style. I’ve noticed that my previous speeches are quite theatrical but not very inclusive. They have suffered from meticulous planning. If I spend too long writing the speech it becomes over dramatic, and harder to recover if I make a mistake. For this speech I tried to spend most of my time planning the structure and message of this speech, then improvised around these points. It made the speech more conversational, and made it easier to get back on track after answering a question (which wouldn’t have happened in a regular speaking slot). But there is a noticeable lack of polish, there are more filler words than usual and a few mistakes.


(Watch this 6:54 video on Vimeo)

I think the combination of my speech and the workshop, that occurred later in the evening, will have won a few people round to the cause. Certainly not everybody. Most people are still adamant that they won’t take part. One person suggested that mentioning the lightning round was damaging as now people are willing to do that, but won’t go the whole hog and do a five minute speech. I think in future persuasive speeches I will only present a single option.

This speech has very narrow appeal. I doubt many people will bother watching it to the end. But that’s fine. It was aimed at a very specific group of people. I was pleased to get experience speaking when there was a need for a speech, rather than just practicing at Toastmasters meetings.

Update: This speech was intended to persuade people to take part in our club’s stand up comedy evening. This took place on 25th February. Six members too part (check out my attempt). Afterwards I got a note from one of the participates that said:

If you didn’t gently remind us of participating, I would probably conviniently ran out of time preparing it and skipped it. But, it actually ended up being a very good experience. So, thanks for forcing to!

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