In the February 2013 edition of The Toastmaster Magazine is an article called, The Key to Connecting. It was written by John Kinde DTM and Loren Eckroth Ph.D. John has been a Toastmaster for forty years and Loren is renowned for his knowledge and expertise in good, conversation, which he has taught to corporate and government organizations worldwide. So these two have a deep understanding and experience of what they are saying in this article. My advice to Toastmasters: read it!
There is a great deal written by Toastmasters nowadays about body movement, gestures and use of the stage. From what I’ve observed, those judging ‘speaking contests’ within Toastmasters take a lot of this to heart. Those who prance and dance, and do all sorts of things, including even falling down on stage, win prizes for these antics.
My own views – and I’m also coming from forty years of experience as a speaker – are in far closer agreement with the views of John Kinde and Loren Eckroth than they are with much of the current hype about ‘how to use the stage’ “A good speech is a conversation,” gets closer to my opinion of how to inform, persuade, inspire or make an audience laugh – all the general purposes of public speaking.
Here is a quote from John and Loren’s article which hits the spot with me. “Listeners of conversers and audiences of speakers share a common desire: They seek authenticity from the messengers. They want speakers to be real people who speak from the heart, folks they can admire and emulate.”
I disagree with the Toastmasters Editorial Staff’s comments at the end of this article that a speaker needs to “work on those facial muscles,” “Make (the inference being to rehearse) gestures consistent with words,” and “Move with purpose.” My view? Let all of this automatically and spontaneously arise out of the speech or story itself. It will evolve of itself as you grow as a speaker.
To get to the point: Forget about the theatrics, the histrionics, the rehearsed acting. Present your message from the heart and all of those things like eye contact and movement and gesture will come from the real you, rather than from a contrived self-image. Then you will be heard at your best, seen at your best, giving of your best. Then you will evolve to true greatness as a speaker.