Toastmasters: An advanced twist

Are you having trouble seeing a benefit to continued membership in Toastmasters after completing one of your educational goals, such as a Competent Communicator (CC) or Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM)? If you fall into one of those groups, then you are an advanced member. If you feel ready to take on some new challenges then read on!

Speaking about advanced Toastmasters, these suggestions all assume you have at least a CC or equivalent award:

Idea #1. You may not know this, but there is no Toastmasters International (TI) rule on content. That means you can take a speech you have given before, polish it up and give it again as another CC topic. Some members think (erroneously) that this is some sort of foul, but how can it be a foul to improve your speaking with a manual speech? I have yet to hear a really good answer to why you shouldn’t do this. Note: I’m not suggesting giving the same speech the same way 10 weeks straight and taking credit. I’m talking about earning credit by taking feedback and improving a presentation to make it better.

At a recent TM meeting where I spoke about this, there was some discussion during the Q & A about reusing speech titles and TI’s reaction to “giving the same speech twice” when the award is submitted. To that, I’d say if you use the feedback to change the speech, it is no longer the same speech, and just add “Rev A” to the title in the back of your manual (but not during the introduction).

I did receive a reply from TI on their opinion (emphasis is mine):

We highly suggest that a member do a new speech for each manual speech so that they can truly learn and grow as a public speaker. There isn’t any official rule against a member giving the same speech for each project in the CC manual while following and fulfilling the objectives for each project.

Every manual project teaches a new speaking skill, and each project in a manual builds upon the skills learned in previous projects. If a member truly wants to improve their speaking skills, every speech that member gives should be prepared according to a project’s instructions and objectives.   

I only disagree with the “truly learn and grow” implication. I think they are worried about a member simply reciting a speech over and over to claim credit. That is a valid concern. But, in my suggestion I believe that taking feedback from a speech and improving it for the next time is easily as valuable as creating one from scratch. Be your own judge.

Idea #2. Don’t try to work on the specific project objective in a CC speech. This one flies in the face of the TI HQ note above, but we’re talking about advanced techniques for advanced speakers. Since you’ve finished your CC already, you should be integrating all of those CC skills into every speech (within reason). Now, you can use projects 2-8 especially to get feedback on how well you do when you’re giving a presentation that isn’t “designed” for a specific project.

I tried this myself recently with a marketing report I gave to my District Executive Committee (DEC) by using Project 7 (research your topic). I received some very useful feedback that will make my next report much better. If I hadn’t, I’d probably repeat some of the mistakes I made the next time (ever seen that happen?)

You can also do that for contest speeches. Don’t try to do extra vocal variety (or whatever the project calls for) in a contest speech. Just give the speech as you would (you know…to win) and get the written feedback. You’ll get more useful (and focused) information than just asking an audience member “What did you think?” after the whole contest is over.

Idea #3. Conversely, do try to work on the objective. We could all be better at vocal variety or gestures. Give it a second (or fifth) go through the CC manual to stay sharp.

Idea #4. There is also no rule on preparation time. Use that next CC manual to practice impromptu speeches. Consider a question you could have to answer in real life and limit yourself to 5-7 minutes. Or, if you are in a district leadership position, practice those types of presentations you may need to give on a club visit. You are giving manual speeches (or modules) on your visits, right???

Competing an award in Toastmasters isn’t the end of a trip, it’s a milestone on your journey. Use some of these tips to keep your skills fresh, and keep setting a great example for your club. Post a comment to let me know how it works, or if you have some other ideas.

8 comments
  1. Rob, I totally agree with this article. The benefit of high school forensics, it that the students are encouraged to give the same speech over and over and learn from their written feedback to improve the speech. I do exactly what you say when working on contest speeches. As my dad always reminded me – “Practice Makes Perfect”. Why else do we rehearse.

    Advanced clubs that focus on evaluations are so helpful for speech improvement. It is a joy to watch a speech given a second or third time to see how it improves. District officers can make the best use of their stage time by using each speech as a manual speech (with approval from a VP-ED of course).

    Nice job.

  2. I know I’m coming in on this very late but thought I’d comment anyhow.

    I’ve completed almost everything for my DTM – with the rest scheduled – and I’m half-way through my second CC. One of the things I’ve considered is doing the same speech for every CC project, concentrating only on the goal of the project, and doing very little of the other things. In other words, the same speech with vocal variety and not much else, again with gestures, and so on.

    I think it would help cement some of the techniques into my head and it could also be a good learning experience for the TMs in my club.

  3. I have tried and completed several speeches with the same topic as you suggested earlier. I am a fan of the color purple ( I lived in a purple house, with purple furniture, wore purple clothes and drove a purple car and a purple motorcycle for almost 20 years) Lots to speak on there. I am also a fan of the number 3. I have given more speeches on the number 3 then I care to think about. To give you some idea of the amount of information on the number 3, just google it. By the way every speech was different and met the manual objectives.

  4. And who says you should remain with the same Title? You can change it, as one of the improvements! Great article.

    I believe, you could get a different letter today. But all depends, how the question is posed. Thanks for this wonderful link to this blog!

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