Leadership… and Speaking
Not too long ago, one of the local newspapers in my area had several articles on ‘Leadership’. The articles were informative and quite revealing. Contrary to what many people tend to believe, no one pops into this world holding a placard saying, “Born a Leader’. Leadership is earned and learned.
Former New York City Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani is quoted as saying,
“A leader must not only set direction, but communicate that direction…..He must bring people aboard, excite them about his vision and earn their support.”
So, where do people go if they are interested in learning about leadership? Where can they go to practice leadership? Where will people find the support and the advice to help them develop the skills they need to be effective in their roles as leaders? As a member of Toastmasters International the answer to me, was obvious. Toastmasters of course! Surprised? Many people think of Toastmasters only as a place to practice public speaking. Well, the cat’s out of the bag folks, Toastmasters is also the place to practice and learn about leadership.
To find out more about Toastmasters and the ’Leadership’ connection, I spoke to Pat Johnson, a twenty-year member and a Distinguished Toastmaster
Q: How, from your experience, do you see a leader exciting people and soliciting their support?
Pat: You help people get excited about their potential. Encourage them to raise their expectations; to set them high. Help people dream of the possibilities instead of thinking about the obstacles. Support your people in the best way you can and then get out of their way.
It’s so important to give people a clear vision of possibilities that are available to them. I think it’s really important to try and see greatness in everyone. Help people see what they can be, not what you think they should be.
Q: I recently read an article by Craig Harrsion, Professional Speaker and Distinguished Toastmaster, that there are a number of similarities between speakers and leaders. He says both speakers and leaders need to have a vision, a set of values, a clear sense of direction, the ability to persuade, gather support and demonstrate appreciation. What do you think about Craig’s comparison?
Pat: I totally agree. As a speaker you are a leader of type. If you weren’t why would people listen to you? They would just walk away. Speakers like leaders must be interesting and they must provide information that has value.
Q: Who comes to your mind when you think of leadership and great speaking?
Pat: I have tremendous admiration for former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He demonstrated qualities that, I feel, should be inherent in every great leader. He was an articulate, brilliant man, a true statesman. He was who he was; said what he meant and meant what he said. Sometimes mysterious, definitely provocative and always outspoken, Trudeau provided us with a leadership that was perfect for the time.
Q: As mentioned earlier, you’ve been a member of Toastmasters for a long time. What made you join?
Pat: I was taking a course that required a trip to Ottawa. While in Ottawa, I was asked to introduce a senator. I was sick for 2 days. Over and over I kept asking myself. “How will I do this? How will I do this?” I had no problem standing on stage or looking out at a large audience, after all I had trained as a singer for 11 years and was accustomed to performing. The apprehension that swelled up inside of me, had little to do with standing in front of others. It had everything to do with the fact that I had no script, no score, no character to act out. What was required was that I just be me and I didn’t know how to do that. I shared my feelings of anxiety with a friend. He suggested that when I return home, I should join Toastmasters. And I did, April 4, 1983.
My first club and my ‘home’ club was in Swan River, Manitoba. I was hooked. Within 2 weeks of joining I took on the role of Club Secretary, a year later I became President. I then moved into the position of Area Governor, receiving the Area Governor of the Year Award. From there I took on the role of Division Governor.
The year I was Division Governor, the district held monthly meetings in the city of Winnipeg, 360 miles away. I would drive 360 miles into Winnipeg and 360 miles back home, a total of 720 miles. I never missed a meeting that entire year. It was important for me to challenge myself and to follow through with my commitment; my commitment to the program and my commitment to myself to be the best I could be.
I’m the type of person that is always on the lookout for new challenges. Prior to my joining Toastmasters I had started a club for horse enthusiasts and coordinated international horse shows. I bred, trained and showed quarter horses.
Q: Would you share some of your early memories?
Pat: A memory that stands out for is one of Joseph Lariviere. He was a member in my home club. I remember standing up and giving a speech. His feedback to me was, “Pat, I want more vocal variety.” No problem, I thought. I’ve got a good voice; I’m a trained singer. After my next speech I, again, asked Joseph for feedback. He said, I want more vocal variety. This went on for about four more times. I thought to myself, I’m sick of hearing the same comment over and over again regarding my speaking. So I went up to him and asked, Joseph, when are you going to give me some other feedback? He looked me straight in the eye and said, When you give me some more vocal variety.”
I was so fortunate, in those early years, to be surrounded by supportive people and caring mentors. My first mentor, past International President of Toastmasters International, Eric Stuhlmueller said. “Aim for the moon, because if you fall short of your goal, you will still land among the stars. Do what you want to do…just don’t break any rules.” I’ve never forgotten his words.
Q: If you had to pick 3 skills that you developed and honed through the Toastmaster Leadership & Communication program, what would they be?
Pat: Well I’d have to say that I’ve become a much more careful listener. Second, I’ve become more assertive in stating my opinion. And third I’ve learned how to do a better job of acknowledging the contribution of others. In any volunteer organization, validation and acknowledgement of others is vital.
Q: What advice could you give to people who are interested in moving into management but have no time for Toastmasters (too busy, no money, spouse won’t like it, they are downsizing at work, etc.)
Pat: In most cases, when I hear someone say they would really like to join or get involved but can’t because they have no time or they have no money, what I hear them really saying is that it’s not a priority for them. Having no time or no money or whatever are just excuses. If something is important to you, you make it a priority. If it’s not important to you, you don’t.
We need to get people to see more of themselves. As Toastmasters, we need to do a better job of selling transferable skills and the benefits. For example. Here is what you’ll learn: team work, organizational skills, strategic planning, program development, motivation, marketing and so on. Give people a list of the benefits that they can write on their resume. Let people know that taking on a role of leadership in Toastmasters is not just putting in time or walking around with a title. It’s really important for people to know why they are there in that position. Where else can a person get leadership training, practice the skills in a safe and supportive environment and then take those skills and put them to the test in their daily environment?
Q: A final question for you. As a former District Governor and declared International Director candidate, how can we encourage more people to get involved in the leadership opportunities that an organization like Toastmasters provides?
Pat: In order to get more people involved, we should start by changing our approach. When people join to become members they don’t think of leadership; they think of public speaking. From the outset we do not take the opportunity to promote and sell leadership, so how can we expect people to buy into it?
Let’s say you have a store that specializes in fruit loops and advertises fruit loops. The customer walks into the store to buy fruit loops. While in the store, the storeowner approaches the customer and says, Along with our world famous fruit loops we also sell delicious whole wheat bread. The customer says No. No. I just came here for the fruit loops; that’s your advertised specialty. I’ll get my bread elsewhere. In the same manner, we don’t sell leadership internally to our own members, so how can we expect to sell it externally.
Speaking from my own experience, the leadership roles I’ve stepped into, because of Toastmasters, have been tremendously exciting and incredibly rewarding. I’m always open to learning as much as I can…….and I’m committed to using what I’ve learned to improve my life, and where possible, to improve the lives of others as well. I see leadership as presenting us with unlimited opportunities to make a difference. I think that George Bernard Shaw said it best, when he said. “Life is no brief candle to me. It is sort of splendid torch, which I’ve got to hold up for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it to future generations.”
For more information on Pat Johnson
Professional Speaker, Trainer, Facilitator
The Rule of Three will help you to prepare and deliver presentation quickly and effectively. This rule simply states – One main theme – illustrated in three paragrphs with three separate points.
1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
2. Then tell them.
3. Then tell them what you told them.
We will get to the details in a second.
- This principle I learned from Evelyn Woods dynamic learning course.
- I found its commonly taught through out speaking world. The Sunday sermon has used this for hundreds of years.
- Evelyn Wood has found that people learn better in groups of 3’s.
- Rule of three makes It easy to write and its easier to recall.
This simple rule of 3 is what I used for most of my communications. Its quick and easy to develop a presentation and then easy to remember or refer to when delivering it. Full details about and sample speeches are on my website www.danieljanssen.com – public speaking resources
Lets look at how it actually works. A basic presentation should have a clear distinct.
Opening – Body – Conclusion.
I will focus most of this part of the talk on the body which the Rule of Three really applys but do not ever underestimate the power and role the opening and conclusions plays.
1: Heres how I do it. Lay out your paper with:
2: Define the objective and your specific purpose.
Who is your audience is and determine what you want them to do.
- understand your point
- entertain them
- move to action etc.
3: The Opening
- should make a first impression.
- grab attention.
- make a connection.
(many speakers start with a joke or humor as I did because I have a very serious style so I try to lighen up right off the bat hopefully connecting with the audience, I figure if I get to to smile then I am on the right track – if that bombs I’m in trouble)
Rule of 3. Three points, three paragraphs, one theme.
Point one: A word picture/anecdote /short story or illustration.
Point two: Some statistics or facts.
Point three: A personal experience or experience of a person.
When you have your purpose – your topic its easy to gather the three points – facts/stats – word pictures – stories.
5: Fillers between the points and OBC
- make sure to add a joke or 2 for humor to lighten things up.
- quotes to add credibility.
- add some vocal variety, gestures and body movement, pauses to be polished.
“It has been said that people remember the first and last thing that you have said” I believe and they also remember things that have touched their buttons – moved them emotionally.
- conclusion being very important to leave them something to remember.
- have a lasting impact.
- stir some emotion or a call to action.
That’s it, a principle for a simple, easy, effective speech then list your name with the local speaking bureau and earn an extra 50k – 100k a year.