On the Table – Topics for Toastmasters Season 1, episode 5
Looking for ideas about which manual you should do next? If you ask me, TI doesn’t provide enough information about the manuals. I looked at all of the information available for the PR manual and it’s word for word the same. You have to buy the manual to find out what the projects are, or borrow it from someone else.
With that thought in mind
On the Table – Topics for Toastmasters Podcasts present:
The Advanced Manual Review Project.
DTMs look at the advanced manuals.
We want DTMs who have completed the manuals to give us their perspective on them.
The review will cover a quick synopsis of each of the units.
What can be learned from it.
And would the reviewer recommend it?
Stay tuned to the end of the podcast today if you’re interested in participating – we’re looking for your input.
Let’s talk about the Public Relations Advanced Manual.
Like most people, I hear PR and I think “spin.” We’ve been hearing a lot of that in the media this week.
To the public relations people in the world, I apologize for the generalization. I’m sure that some of you are honest, truthful people who don’t want to manipulate the audience into thinking your product is flawless and perfect – just that it’s a good, workable product that serves its purpose and does it well.
I blame politics. And the media.
But let’s talk about the Public Relations Manual – on the table.
The Public Relations Advanced Manual
I picked this book because I saw it as the next logical step after Speaking to Inform and Persuasive Speaking. Public relations is something I’ve done informally for years – let’s see what I can learn.
A PR manual is an important focus for Toastmasters. What we most often see now is the publicist talking to an array of journalists who have their deadlines and an attention-grabbing headline in mind. Either as the publicist, the public relations officer or as the journalist, this manual should have good information for me to learn.
The first project is called the Goodwill speech. Right away, the distinctions between public relations, publicity and advertising are laid out. I quote:
Public relations refers to a variety of marketing strategies that strengthen a person’s or organization’s credibility, enhance their image, develop good will or influence public opinion. Publicity is one of these strategies, and it involves media coverage such as new stories, feature articles, radio and television interviews, public appearances and reviews… [i]
So publicity is a part of PR. Right. And advertising?
You pay for advertising… You also control the content of the ad and can make it favorable to your product, service or organization. Publicity is free…
If a newspaper editor considers your product or service newsworthy and assigns a reporter to write an article about it, the result is public relations. Because you didn’t pay for the article and it was written by an independent party, the readers consider the article to be more credible and are more likely to be influenced by it. [i]
In sum: The ultimate goal of public relations is to create positive a public image, reinforce current thought, or to change opinions of society.
So the five projects focus on how to influence opinions.
Project 1: The Goodwill Speech
The Goodwill Speech is based on the idea that you’re creating or building on a good opinion already in the public mind. It puts the speaker out there as a type of authority or offering assistance to the audience. I see this called “content” in the writing world – giving something to the audience to keep them aware of you. It’s giving speeches at the Rotary or women’s clubs with information they can use. In this project, you’re asked to give a goodwill speech about Toastmasters.
When I started this manual, I was grateful that I was given a specific topic because I was stumped. How do I approach these projects when I’m not employed? I ended up giving this speech and then abandoning the manual for 6 months.
My evaluator said it was the best speech he’d ever heard me give. That meant a lot to me.
Project 2: The Radio Talk Show
Months later, I was “interviewed” – if you could call it that – by a local talk radio host. I was with Dan Toussant and we were to talk about the Angel Tree project which Dan was involved with. I came along because we hoped to get something in about Toastmasters.
The host spent more time talking about my unusual last name. Um… no. Not the way I pictured it.
So when it was time to do Project 2: the Radio Talk Show, I went with what I knew, and what I knew the other role player knew – Toastmasters. Too bad this wasn’t live – it went great. Prepping your interviewer making sure they know and appreciate the topic makes the interview go much better. We even got an impromptu caller to call in and ask a question.
This is a two-parter project. First, a short speech about my topic (Toastmasters) and then a Q and A with the host and a caller.
This was fun. Kevin Warrene’s “call in” made us all laugh. Paul Keyes did my interview – nicely done. I was very pleased with my presentation that day.
The next three speeches were extremely difficult for me to come up with topics. I have lots of topics I’d brainstormed over several weeks written in lots of different inks. In the end, I wrote ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE on a page and thought, “Why not?”
Indeed. Why not? I seriously had no better idea than to do a Crisis Management Speech (project 5) on zombies. What can I say? My husband was on a zombie movie kick for months and it was on my mind.
Not just zombies. Vampires. And Zombies. You want a challenge, you try to present a positive message for a company that accidently creates vampires in a scientific medical experiment and proposes zombies as the cure.
I have great clubs. They went right along with me.
Project 3, 4 and 5: Vampires and Zombies – Wait? Is this a Professional Manual?
The Project 5: Crisis Management Speech is supposed to be in front of the media. I’m afraid the members were too amused to really give me a hard time –my evaluation said I was doing more corporate damage control than answering questions.
The very next day, at another club, I did Project 4: Speaking Under Fire. I used essentially the same speech. I primed the members with the idea they’re hostile to me
– and boy, did they go to town.
Darrell Muffat took her role very seriously – we had hostile, we had anger, we had righteous indignation in those questions. It was great.
Using the same speech with a twist allowed me to try a bit of body language development in my speaking. It was successful acting but harmful to other aspects of my presentation. That’s frustrating.
Two weeks later, the empty slot in the agenda at a third club let me put up my final iteration in Project 3: The Persuasive Approach.
It went over like a lead balloon. I got credit from the evaluator for being persuasive, but was also told I was confusing and I needed to simplify the speech.
I know that we’re generally supposed to complete these projects in order. I didn’t. I did learn that doing a theme in advanced manuals is a great way to help you focus on your presentation skills rather than spending a lot of time on research and writing, as long as you practice in advance.
Did I learn about Public Relations speaking from this book?
Yes… The suggestions how to present – presenting sincerity, avoiding aggression, gauging how forceful to be – those were good. Each of the projects covered a distinct part of the PR process regarding speech – but not so much the others – sponsorships, charitable contributions, events, newsletters.
I wonder what a total PR leadership and communication manual would look like.
Do I think I’d remember this if I were in these situations? I hope so, but while these are the situations a publicist might find herself, I think the friendly “safe” environment of Toastmasters simply isn’t tough enough trial to learn how to successfully manage the pressure in real life.
Would I encourage others to do this manual?
If you have an interest in business – yours or an employer’s – this is a good manual, but it’s based on skills that need to be acquired from other manuals first. I’d suggest completing the Persuasive Speaking and the Speaking to Inform manuals first. When you’re told in the speech project instructions to use “standard persuasive techniques” (page 14) – you’ll need to find them elsewhere. Then this manual will be extremely useful to give those techniques a great work out.
District 10 Fall Conference 2014
It’s conference season for Toastmasters around the world. I hope your district conference was as good as ours was here in District 10. We had 9 great education sessions, and a great keynote from Darren LaCroix, the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking. Our district had 11 DTMs presented at our minting awards ceremony! Ed Haller of the Talk of the Town club won the Humorous contest and Mary K. Deep took the Table Topics win back to her club Key Note Speakers. Congratulations to them both, and to the great team that put our Fall 2014 Conference together, especially conference chair Maureen Zappala and contest chair Pete Punwani.
Thanks to Toastmasters, District 10, for sponsoring the On the Table – Topics for Toastmasters podcasts. To make our Toastmasters succeed is our goal.
Brand new on our website is our subscription button for iTunes. Go to onthetablepodcasts.com/05 to find it so that you won’t miss an episode.
Our music today is from Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com.
[i] Public Relations Advanced Manual, Toastmasters, Inc., 2011.by