Using Gadgets – when in doubt…reach for a G&T!

Toastmaster Mireia Fontbernat offers some tips for making better use of G&T

No, it’s not the drink you should reach out for before an important speech. It stands for “Gadgets and Toastmasters”.

Technology is everywhere. And, all too often, we think that it has nothing to do with us and speaking. Many a presenter has been known to use gadgets as a distraction.

Propping it up

Granted, we need to get the basics right: we need to be able to provide a structure talk, with interesting content for the specific audience, and with the appropriate delivery techniques, such as body language, voice variation… Then we can include props.

Props must add value to our speech; they should act as prompts for us, reminders for the audience and support the structure of the presentation.

The next stage is technology. Gadgets are very tempting – from PowerPoint® to video, from bullet points to animations with sound – we should be able to enhance our presentations with these.

When all else fails
In addition to enhancing speeches, technology has another characteristic: it fails. Badly.

You should at least prepare three different speeches when you use gadgets or technology: one version with all technical aspects working fine, a second one for technology failing – at any point – mid-way (you may even have your own joke about it, but do not imply you cannot do the presentation without it), and a third one for those unfortunately not-so-rare cases when technology refuses to work before you even go on stage.

It is additional work, but if you have been through the experience just once, you will agree it is well worth the extra effort.

And unless it is very obvious, you don’t even need to tell your audience that your speech was intended to be different!

The sky’s the limit

There are enough guidelines and books about how to use technology in speeches, and we all need to find our own way to use them.

But – how about extending our reach? Why should we limit ourselves to using gadgets in our club speeches?

You can visit and participate in other clubs’ meetings, but you can also use technology to reach out to new audiences, try new media and enjoy the process.

Out of the comfort zone
Some technologies may feel very threatening already in the club atmosphere. It may be asking a bit too much to try these in the wild.

Here are the reasons why you should try:
1- You are experimenting with new areas, therefore learning
2- You can always remove things / keep them private
3- Ask your mentor if s/he would like to review this extra-curricular speeches

Take the G&T challenge
Don’t run for the drinks cabinet just yet… Take this little test first:

Which areas do you find most challenging? (Look at your past feedback slips)
a) Content and structure
b) Body language
c) Voice variation

Depending what you answered, pick a challenge from the list below to stretch yourself.
a) Content and structure

  • Try using Tony Buzan’s incredible Mind-mapping software. You can download trial software for free.
  • Blogging and more BloggingWhy not try writing an article about your next speech and blogging it on the MSC website.
  • Take some PowerPoint® courses,then prepare a Powerpoint presentation for your next speech.

b) Body language

c) Voice variation

  • Start phlogging (i.e. phone blogging)
  • Create your own podcast (you don’t have to post it on the web!) – get your kit.

Good luck and don’t forget to reward yourself if the technology works. If the gadget fails, you can always have a real G&T anyway!

Full disclosure: The author has been commercially or financially involved with some of the companies and services mentioned above (namely, Microsoft and Qik).

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