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Speaking Tips - Toastmasters! - Speak Often

Updated on June 28, 2012

The writer speaking to an audience of 150 Probians

At seventy-six, Tom is more popular than ever as a guest speaker
At seventy-six, Tom is more popular than ever as a guest speaker

Speaking tips - Toastmasters! - Speak often

Twenty years or more ago when I was a trainer I was introduced to a well known adage regarding ‘Learning.’ Like so many others, I was told that learning falls into four overlapping stages. The first of these is Unconscious Incompetence. Here we know nothing regarding a certain skill, or are unknowingly ignorant about a subject, whatever it might be. We don’t even think about it. Ignorance is bliss.

There are over 1740 Probus Clubs in Austalia so opportunity knocks

Some of the audience at the Coonara-Cherrybrook Mixed Probus Club.  Even with a membership of 200 it is far from being the biggest Probus Club in the district.
Some of the audience at the Coonara-Cherrybrook Mixed Probus Club. Even with a membership of 200 it is far from being the biggest Probus Club in the district.

Unconcious imcompetence is followed by Conscious incompetence

The second one is Conscious Incompetence. We are now aware that we know little or nothing about the subject and yet we want to learn about it - or how to do it. We’re aware we need to learn about it, are motivated, yet self conscious about our not being able to undertake this task very well. We’re beginners.

Most Probus clubs need a guest speaker every month

Don't ignore the chance to speak to retiree groups, they make up the bulk of all speaking opportunities.   There are literally thousands of retiree groups needing regular speakers.
Don't ignore the chance to speak to retiree groups, they make up the bulk of all speaking opportunities. There are literally thousands of retiree groups needing regular speakers.

Conscious competence is superseded by Unconscious competence

The third is Conscious Competence. We’ve now learned a quite a lot about this thing we wished to learn - but are very aware of our subject matter. Our newfound ability tends to be at the forefront of our thinking. We’re still monitoring ourselves. Still wondering how we are doing compared with what is expected of us. We’re well on our way, but we haven’t made it yet.

Finally we reach the fourth stage: Unconscious Competence

Toastmasters - soak up the applause - you deserve it...

My Speaking Tips Hubpages are written to help the aspiring speaker.  We never know it all, so we need to keep on towards that unreachable ideal of perfection, realizing that the enjoyment in the journey is what really counts.
My Speaking Tips Hubpages are written to help the aspiring speaker. We never know it all, so we need to keep on towards that unreachable ideal of perfection, realizing that the enjoyment in the journey is what really counts.

When we've forgotten about the 'do's and 'don'ts' we've reach the first stage of excellence

As a public speaker, we generally don’t start to enjoy speaking until we get to this fourth and last stage. When we can get up there and forget all about the ‘dos’ and ‘don’t’s’ we find we’re starting to enjoy it. At this stage, thinking about techniques has now blended into an unconscious way of doing things. We’ve now assumed that all the right habits are there. Those first few words might find us in the Third Stage, but by the time we’ve said a sentence or two, we’re into the Fourth. And unless something really untoward happens, we stay there right throughout. We’ve arrived.

...or perhaps we've just boarded the bus, for our journey will continue...

There's nothing like being the keynoter at a big formal dinner

Part of the 154 people in the audience at Tom's 'Titanic - a Night to Remember' event on Friday 13th April 2012.
Part of the 154 people in the audience at Tom's 'Titanic - a Night to Remember' event on Friday 13th April 2012.

The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement

Of course, there is still room for improvement. We might not have developed all the right habits. And this is where continuing membership of Toastmasters is so important. We never know it all. But by this time we do know a lot. We are, after all, in the Fourth Stage.

So what’s the message?

It is that such accomplishment can only be brought about by one thing. Practice! Experience! - speaking before a live audience many times. All the theory in the world, all the reading, all the tuition and the CDs and DVDs – these generally come into those first and second areas: Conscious Incompetence and Conscious Competence. When we are conscious of our acting out, we are concerned with ourselves: how we are performing. But when we reach the fourth stage, Unconscious Competence, we have forgotten about ourselves and are now concentrating of the message. We’re concerned with what our listeners are getting from us. At this point we really are accomplished speakers.

Get out there and speak!

So, for all of you Toastmasters who aspire to become the best speaker you can be, the advice is, of course, “Get out there and speak! Do it often! Do it as much as is practicable given your circumstances.” Then, one day, you will realize that you’ve not only put all of those things you used to be concerned about out of your mind, you will love speaking as you’ve never loved it before. And yet, you will know that you’re still learning…will be learning for the rest of your life.

I hope you gained something from Speaking Tip - Toastmasters! - Speak Often.

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