On the table – topics for Toastmasters. Season 1, episode 4.
Life Hacks are the tricks and tips that get developed as a better, more effective way to complete a task. It’s like taking a detour and finding a better route, or making lasagna and discovering you don’t have to pre-cook the pasta.
There’s a bit of deep, personal satisfaction in life hacks. Recently, I faced a steamed-up mirror and ten minutes to dry my hair. Rather than wait for the mirror to dry naturally, or to take a towel –or worse, my hand – and wipe it down – and then have to clean the mirror later – I realized that my car windshield defroster was nothing more than a blow-dryer – like the one in my hand at that very moment. 10 seconds later and I was looking at myself in a clean, dry mirror. Cool!
There are websites dedicated to Life Hacks. Google the term and you’ll find a lot of millennials talking about the tricks they’ve concocted… and some videos of people testing some of them…
We’ve put together a list of a few DTM hacks that might be useful to you today… on the table.
I have no doubt that all of these have occurred to Toastmasters. I’m not claiming any originality – in fact, I got this list from Nancy Secrist of Fairlawn Toastmasters in Akron, Ohio. Nancy got her DTM this year and was working on a presentation called “DTM Hacks” at the same time I was working on an educational session for the Fall Conference called “DTM Fast Track.” Great minds think alike – we’ve pooled our ideas and come up with a presentation with the charm of a Reese’s peanut butter cup – sweet chocolate and salty peanut butter into one beautiful piece of… Does anyone have some chocolate?
DTM Hack 1: Plan a theme for an advanced manual
You can do this for the Competent Communicator, I guess, but ten speeches on the same topic seems a bit over the top. How would you do an icebreaker and an inspiring speech about any one theme? I’m sure someone’s done it, or figured out how, but I’m going to stick to the advanced manual theme.
I was coaching a club and I hate meetings without a speech. So for several weeks running, I was the only speaker. I don’t recommend this, by the way. It’s better to recruit other speakers than to take up speaking slots week after week… Back to my point. I had the Public Relations manual and 5 speeches to give – while I was a homeschooler. Not a lot of PR for me to do for my “job” as it were, so I created a fictitious problem. I called the first speech: “Zoomorphic Oscillating Madibleitus Bicuspid E” for the Speaking Under Fire project. Let me read you a bit of the speech:
The research at Stoker Institute is always geared to assist people in need of advanced medical care around the world. Last year, promising basic research by scientists led us to believe that we could solve the problem of tooth decay in teenagers with a specialized blood treatment process. The promising study had moved, with FDA approval, to the point of testing on human volunteers. Vascular Arterial Mandible Protocols, Iterations A through Q, had been thoroughly investigated and our research peer reviewed in several distinguished science periodicals. Most recently, our findings were duplicated in an eastern European university.
We all agree that the release of the Vascular Arterial Mandible Protocol, Iteration R into the environment has been devastating to everyone, and we convey our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost their lives, and we continue to work on research to heal those who have been attacked. VAMPIR victims need help, not discrimination.
Yes, I was talking about Vampires.
Soon after, I needed another speech to fill a slot in the agenda and The Crisis Management Speech became “Compassion for the Victims.”
We’ve seen the videos on Youtube. It’s heart-wrenching to see those young people, struck down by violence, in blatant disregard for their rights of due process. Yet – is the law the right answer? This is an illness, not a crime.
I know that there is a lot of fear of this epidemic. Sales of so-called protective gear or preventative measures are skyrocketing. Meyer Industries appears to have cornered the market, making the disease look far more devastating than it is. The misleading use by Hollywood of victims in various shows is feeding the fear we see in the country. The media is ginning this up to sell newspapers. They claim to be informing us. I say they are part of the problem.
Yes, still talking about vampires.
Themes help you, not inhibit you. You can reduce your prep time considerably. Believe me, I am not a big fan of vampires, sparkly or not. Repeating essentially the same speech allowed me to concentrate on delivery – body language and vocal variety.
This speech then became New Treatments for Victims.
It’s not easy to become infected. This isn’t a disease that you can get from being in the same room, using the same dishes or even sleeping in the same bed. There are some simple protective measures you can take until this epidemic is contained.
Treatments exist. General Electric in cooperation with the National Institute of Health released a new treatment this past week to deal with the most painful part of the disease. New light treatments are able now to manage both of the dominant skin disorders – the pallor and the glowing skin symptoms both are responding. The Zoomorphic Oscillating Mandibulitis Bicuspid Intervention E from Sunnydale Research is on a fast track to deal with the obvious dental distortions. With enough funding, the current issues in the treatments – such as the stumbling and craving for unusual foods – we can hope for – no, we expect – a cure.
Yes, still talking about Vampires. Three speeches and according to the dates in my PR manual, all done at different clubs but within a 3 week period.
Which leads to
DTM Hack #2: Join another club
Nancy and I have some disagreement about joining another club. She likes advanced clubs. She sees them as a place to get better, more thorough evaluations. I can’t argue with that. However, all of the advanced clubs in District 10 are monthly clubs. Only one meeting per month… still paying TI $36 for a separate club and getting an extra Toastmasters Magazine… and club dues on top of that… I’ve questioned the economic value of an Advanced Club for years. This isn’t to say I don’t respect them. I’ve been to 3 of our 5 this year and I see that there are presentations that could never be given in a community or corporate club – such as Joan Dilillo’s recent presentation at Central Advanced Toastmasters that ran 20 minutes. Couldn’t do that at my lunchtime club.
But now I could. My home club is low on members and too often has no speeches scheduled. I might get away with a 20 minute presentation because in a small club, there’s less competition for the speaking slots. It’s the clubs with 30 some members who have their speaking schedule full for the next 6 weeks that makes it hard to get a slot. Telling the VP Ed that you’re always going to have a hip pocket speech ready so if there’s a cancelation or a no-show, you can fill in. Want to count on that? I didn’t. I joined two clubs that were under 20 members and got a speaking slot whenever I wanted – and sometimes when I didn’t have anything prepared. Impromptu speeches? I’ve done plenty. I remember asking my DTM mentor to pay her husband’s porn magazine business fees… He howled. Just howled with laughter and sent me a text that he’d paid upfront for the model’s services. I miss Richard. He was a great man.
Here’s a matrix to help you determine if joining an advanced club is good for you:
- Are you looking for opportunities to try longer, more complicated speeches and the time frame doesn’t concern you? Go advanced. You won’t regret it. You’ll build your skills and watch others grow.
- Are you looking at the DTM by June 2017 and have a lot of speeches to give? Find a small club and join it. You’ll have the opportunities to speak and when a club has dedicated members, visitors are attracted to that passion and join.
DTM Hack #3: Join a team
I’d been in Toastmasters about 3 months when I was asked if I’d like to go to lunch and talk with some DTMs about getting my own. It was an informative meeting – I’d never heard of half of what they were talking about and all the Advance Leadership this and Advanced Communication that was new to me. But there were 5 of us at the table starting on this deliberate path to the DTM. Almost everyone else at that table had one or more advanced awards under their belt – I had one or two speeches. But only one of us dropped out and didn’t get the DTM. Working with others toward the same goal was encouraging, but more, it was helpful. When I needed someone to help me with a Radio Interview presentation, I asked one of my team. When they were working on their HPLs, I was there with them. Three of us crossed the finish line at the same time, and the fourth finished up just a few weeks ago.
It’s not really formal – not like a mentor who called you every few weeks and asked for an update. It’s like a support group where each member knows who to go to – when help is needed.
An advanced club is a great place to find others who are working toward the same goal, but you’ll find them in pretty much every club. Ask around.
That’s three DTM hacks to help you through the DTM process. I’m sure you’ve got more – so do I, and we’ll be presenting them at the District 10 2014 Fall Conference in an education session. That’s only about a week away – so go to District10.org right now and sign up!
Thanks to Nancy Secrist, DTM, of Akron, for her help and creativity with the DTM Hacks. If you have a DTM hack to share, you can go to the contact page and send me a note – there’s a form there or you can send me an email – the address is there.
Our sponsor, Toastmasters District 10, is based in northeastern Ohio. Thanks to the Toastmasters here who make On The Table Podcasts.com possible.
Our music is by Incompetech.com.
You can find our podcast notes at onthetablepodcasts.com slash 04.