Toastmasters: Adaptive Speaking

Judges training today in Springfield was a lot of fun. No…No…I haven’t been drinking.

Making a few adaptations on the fly really made the session go well, and I was able to elicit a few laughs in an otherwise dry topic.

Mistake: Not establishing a Q&A policy up front
Adapt: I had a few questions early and then made sure folks knew it was okay to interrupt – this made it easier to cover the ground they cared about most

Mistake: I didn’t use the PowerPoint slides
Adapt: Oops…that wasn’t a mistake

Mistake: I didn’t really have a good phrase to latch onto
Adapt: When I had everyone repeat “Pick A Winner!” as one of the important points to remember, one member in the audience (I’ll call him Tony) decided to repeat it pretty regularly throughout the presentation. So I did what I could to encourage it, including tossing my pen at him when he shouted it out randomly later in the presentation (No Tonys were injured in this presentation)

Mistake: I was worried that my closing might not be memorable
Adapt: I managed to do something I’ve seen work really well with other (better) speakers; I led the audience to the part where they finished my presentation with “PICK A WINNER!”

It helps to have a good level of expertise on a topic to do these types of adaptations. After all, Q’s are just embarrassing when you don’t have the A’s.

The truth is I had a good time, and I think the audience did too. If you can say that, chances are you can feel good about your presentation, even after the 5 hour drive home…

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