Entries Tagged 'Toastmasters' ↓

Toastmaters in Mauritius

To have 80 odd persons assembled in a room to pursue the enhancement of their communication and leadership skills was a fantastic experience last Saturday at the La Pirogue for the first ever Toastmasters Convention in Mauritius. I was so pleased to have been present and to experience the vibrant energy born and grown from the seeds planted a decade ago by a few with Mark Wenick to start in Mauritius a toastmaster’s chapter.

Toastmasters in Mauritius today, is four dynamic clubs meeting regularly, twice monthly, to provide opportunities to its members to sharpen their skills through collective learning in a highly positive and friendly atmosphere through a proven format proven by Toastmasters International.

How  did my participation to Toastmasters contribute to my learning and personal growth?

When I joined Toastmasters in 1998, I had already a working career behind me. As a matter of fact I was entering the third phase of my life careers. The first phase was my apprenticeship to being a leader at work. The second one was to put my learning to test. End 1997, I was offered the opportunity and challenge to regenerate my working career in a position, that I have never lived before. As the new Cluster Director of Rogers Group, I was given the task of heading with the different Managers Company’s related to Retail trade. In the lot were companies that needed severe restructuring, expansion, and also some of them even to be prepared to be sold off at the most profitable time.

I had to be an even better communicator and leader. In the hind sight on reflection, what I learned from Toastmasters then was the absolute necessity to balance my right brain activities with more of my left brain ones. I realised that it is good and pleasing to be in an innovative mode but it was necessary to combine the rigor and tedious aspects to succeed in any task. A good leader needs an appropriate balance in his strategic thinking and formulate his communications to suit the audience targeted. Toastmasters allow me to test and honed these skills.

So why not join a toastmasters Club?

Obama’s Speech Transcript seen from a toastmaster’s filter

From the toastmaster’ filter:

Did he have clear 3 parts: 1. introduction 2. development 3. Conclusion?


We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars’ opens up his speech and clearly introduce the theme.


The development of his subject were made clear by naming each different issues,numbering them and expanding on them.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

The sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity


He artfully wraps up his speech by going back to the need of a new beginning and concluded strongly with messages of peace from the Holy Koran , Talud and the Holy Bible.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning.

Though not expressed I could sense the same positive reaffimation of  Yes we can in the ending!

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

Great 1 2 3 method!

What about maintaining the interest of the audience? How did he maintain them hung to his speech?

Reflexion Dominicale

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,29-39.

On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.


This Sunday has been not usual as other Sundays, as I decided to attend the weekly mass on Saturday to be freed to attend another service at the Presbyterian Church St. Columbus in Phoenix.

Philip the president of Toastmasters had informed me that he would be speaking in church there and later I was informed by Wairu and there will be a special service to pray for Nina, a founder member of Toastmasters, who will be undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumour in India. I was also marvellous to pray together with all the friends in a different church. I was really pleased to have attended the different service.

Today’ reading was commented by Philip who started off using his fondness of movies watching by asking: “if each evangelist was a movie producer, what sort of movie would they have produced to tell the story of Jesus?” Luke would have produced a narrative movie. May be Matthew would have produced a much researched and as near as possible factual movie. Whilst John would have yield a movie from the angle of his own thoughts and in sights on the facts, the last evangelist Mark being a succinct and direct he would have produce a short action movie giving the essence of the story.

What lessons today’s reading can we draw? When you read through the first lines, we observe the compassion that Jesus had for the large crowd from the whole town that gathered in the house. Jesus was busy, attending to the demand of one and all and servicing their wants. Very much like us, who are busy attending to all what we are requested to do?

Then the next morning, Jesus left to a solitary deserted place to pray. Is he not indicating to us the need to pray? Do not all of us need to recollect our spirit and enter in a dialogue with God and have some heart to heart communications with our Lord?

Jesus must have had been praying for a while as the disciplines were looking for him. The crowd wanted him for more healing. Mark does not detail the prayer conversation that Jesus had. By observing Jesus’ action, we could deduct that after conferring with His father, he had received other instructions that to keep healing the persons who were after him.

Philip used a very appropriate story which demonstrates the pushing or others on oneself which might divert oneself from one’s mission. The ‘thermostat story,’ which I shall have the pleasure to write thereon separately. Jesus was refocused on his main purpose: to preach elsewhere. He had to move on.

I also enjoyed the wonderful story of Philip explaining the possible meandering route taken to the main purpose of Jesus. As much as we need to achieve our mission, we may travel through somewhat devious routes to experiment the joy and happiness of the journey to our ultimate goal.

To conclude Philip saw in today’s reading the compassion, servicing, praying and purpose of Jesus.

Lord give me the compassion and the spirit of service that I need to look after my brethren, through the practice of heart to heart dialogue, prayers with You Lord bless me in finding my purpose in my life and lastly with Your eternal love grant me to be accompanied throughout my earthy journey by You and other persons You decide to place on my path.

Thank you Lord for the wonderful time I had with the congregation I met this morning and I implore you with the congregation to bless Nina and to heal her. You got the whole world in your hand; you got our sister Nina in your hand.

Speech Craft

This morning I had the visit of a toastmaster’s friend, Gerard. He told me how he was enthused by his attendance to the Port Louis Toastmasters session, the previous evening. He had the task of evaluating a great speech by his friend Darlene who spoke on her new found love: the Toastmasters club. He was taken aback by the high level of the speech that he lost his ability to evaluate.

In Toastmasters, the evaluation speech itself is a “think on your feet” exercise. As an evaluator, you have to make the evaluation speech immediately after. Thus the evaluator has very little time to prepare the address and to deliver in a flowing yet structured, meaningful, pertinent and interesting manner. The thinking  has to be fast and the fluency of the delivery polished. The speech has to have an introduction, a body and a conclusion whilst being executed within the allowed time alloted.

Here is a four point’s tip on building an evaluation speech which I borrowed from a seasoned speaker:

1.Think brevity

Be aware that your audience values you getting to the point. They value complex ideas

being explained simply. Everyone suffers from information overload. If you don’t get to

the point, you’re adding to the overload.

2.Think structure

Place some kind of framework into your communication so that your audience can see

you are organized and have thought about your answer. You have focused your answer

into something digestible, something an audience can absorb. It forces you into brevity

and clarity.

3.Think threes

Strong verbal messages require focus. They also require substance. One item is not

enough. Seventeen items is too many. Three items is enough for you, and your audience,

to retain. Three items forces you to focus on what is really important. It also focuses your

audience on only having listen to three. Remember your audience’s attention span.

4.Think movement

Demonstrate your mental ability to be logical, and to move your audience through that


Some ‘think on your feet’ techniques:

What if someone asks a question to which you do not know the answer?

Mr. Davies advises that if you really don’t know the answer, say so.

“Our research clearly shows that people expect and value honesty and directness. They

don’t like waffling … Just acknowledge that you don’t know, but promise to get back to

them — and then get back to them.”

How do you buy time if you just need a moment or two to gather your thoughts?

“Usually, people know the answer but get flummoxed, pressured and have a hard time

recalling what they know,” Mr. Davies said. “One strategy that will buy you time

involves instantly taking your questioner back in time, to review what happened.

“For example, you are cornered by your boss to discuss your group’s sales performance.

You can quickly frame a response by grouping all the details into what affected past

sales, your targets for present sales and your strategies for increasing future sales.”

Mr. Davies has people prepare for his workshops by bringing a list of the 10 questions

they most hate to answer. For bosses, these often include: Why haven’t you given me a

raise? For sales people, one of the most hated questions is: Why should I buy your

product when the competition sells it for less?

Anticipating questions that might be asked helps you respond to the tough ones when

they do arise, he said. As an opening Think on Your Feet® exercise, workshop

participants are invited to assume the role of a famous person, and field the types of

questions that person might be asked.

For instance, a person playing the late prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, might be asked to

justify his decision to drive an expensive German sports car.

A hint from Mr. Davies: Fuddle duddle is not an acceptable answer.

Think on your feet

At Toastmasters, the members practice the art of thinking on one’s feet. Here are some tips which I collected from the web.

Staying Cool and Confident Under Pressure

“So, Susan, your report indicates you support forging ahead with the expansion but have you considered the impact this will have on our customers? Surely you remember the fiasco in Dallas last year when they tried the same type of project?”

Yikes! If you’re Susan, you’re likely feeling under pressure! You have to answer the question and allay the CEO’s concerns about the disruption to customers. What do you do? What do you say? How do you say it? What if you can’t think of anything to say?

This is not an uncommon situation. Whether you are put on the spot while attending a meeting, presenting a proposal, selling an idea, or answering questions after a presentation, articulating your thoughts in unanticipated situations is a skill. Thinking on your feet is highly coveted skill and when you master it, your clever and astute responses will instil immediate confidence in what you are saying.

When you can translate your thoughts and ideas into coherent speech quickly, you ensure your ideas are heard. You also come across as being confident, persuasive, and trustworthy.

Confidence is key when learning to think on your feet. When you present information, give an opinion or provide suggestions, make sure you know what you are talking about and that you are well informed. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything about everything, but if you are reasonably confident in your knowledge of the subject, that confidence will help you to remain calm and collected even if you are put unexpectedly in the hot seat.

The secret of thinking on your feet is to be prepared: learn some skills and tactics, and do some preparation for situations that might put you under pressure. Then when you do find yourself faced with unexpected questions and debate, you’ll be ready to draw on these tactics and preparation, and so stay poised while you compose your thoughts and prepare your response. Here are some tips and tactics:

1. Relax
This is often the opposite of how you are feeling when you’re under pressure, but in order for your voice to remain calm and for your brain to “think”, you have to be as relaxed as possible.

  • Take deep breaths
  • Take a second and give yourself a positive and affirming message
  • Clench invisible muscles (thighs, biceps, feet) for a few seconds and release.

2. Listen
It comes as no surprise that listening is critical to thinking on your feet. Why do you need to listen? To make sure you fully understand the question or request before you reply. If you answer too soon, you risk going into a line of thinking that is unnecessary or inappropriate. To help you with your listening remember to:

  • Look directly at the questioner
  • Observe body language as well as what is being spoken
  • Try to interpret what is being suggested by the question or request. Is this an attack, a legitimate request for more information, or a test? Why is this person asking this and what is the intention?
Remember that the person is asking a question because he or she is interested. Some interest is positive – they simply want to know more – and some is negative – they want to see you squirm. Either way they are interested in what you have to say. It’s your privilege and pleasure not to disappoint them!

3. Have the Question Repeated
If you’re feeling particularly under pressure, ask for the question to be repeated. This gives you a bit more time to think about your response.

At first glance people think this will only make them look unsure. It doesn’t. It makes you look concerned that you give an appropriate response. It also gives the questioner an opportunity to rephrase and ask a question that is more on point. Remember, the questioner may well have just “thought on his or her feet” to ask the question, so when you give them a second chance, the question may well be better articulated and clearer to all.

By asking to have the question repeated you also get another opportunity to assess the intentions of the questioner. If it is more specific or better worded, chances are the person really wants to learn more. If the repeated question is more aggressive than the first one, then you know the person is more interested in making you uncomfortable than anything else. When that’s the case, the next tip comes in very handy.

4. Use Stall Tactics
Sometimes you need more time to get your thoughts straight and calm yourself down enough to make a clear reply. The last thing you want to do is blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind. Often this is a defensive comment that only makes you look insecure and anxious rather than confident and composed.

  • Repeat the question yourself. This gives you time to think and you clarify exactly what is being asked. It also allows you to rephrase if necessary and put a positive spin on the request. “How have I considered the impact on customers in order to make sure they have a continued positive experience during the expansion?”
  • Narrow the focus. Here, you ask a question of your own to not only clarify, but to bring the question down to a manageable scope. “You’re interested in hearing how I’ve considered customer impacts. What impacts are you most interested in: product availability or in-store service?
  • Ask for clarification. Again, this will force the questioner to be more specific and hopefully get more to a specific point. “When you say you want to know how I’ve analyzed customer impacts, do you mean you want a detailed analysis or a list of the tools and methods I used?”
  • Ask for a definition. Jargon and specific terminology may present a problem for you. Ask to have words and ideas clarified to ensure you are talking about the same thing.

5. Use Silence to your Advantage
We are conditioned to believe that silence is uncomfortable. However, if you use it sparingly, it communicates that you are in control of your thoughts and confident in your ability to answer expertly. When you rush to answer you also typically rush your words. Pausing to collect your thoughts tells your brain to slow everything down.

6. Stick to One Point and One Supporting Piece of Information
There’s a high risk that, under pressure, you’ll answer a question with either too much or too little information. If you give too short an answer, you risk letting the conversation slip into interrogation mode. (You’ll get another question, and the questioner will be firmly in control of how the dialogue unfolds). When your reply is too long, you risk losing people’s interest, coming across as boring, or giving away things that are better left unsaid. Remember, you aren’t being asked to give a speech on the subject. The questioner wants to know something. Respect that and give them an answer, with just enough supporting information.

This technique gives you focus. Rather than trying to tie together all the ideas that are running through your head, when you pick one main point and one supporting fact, you allow yourself to answer accurately and assuredly.

If you don’t know the answer, say so. There is no point trying to make something up. You will end up looking foolish and this will lower your confidence when you need to think on your feet in the future. There is (usually) nothing wrong with not knowing something. Simply make sure you follow up as soon as possible afterwards with a researched answer.

7. Prepare some “what ifs”
With a bit of forethought, it’s often possible to predict the types of questions you might be asked, so you can prepare and rehearse some answers to questions that might come your way. Let’s say you are presenting the monthly sales figures to your management team. The chances are your report will cover most of the obvious questions that the management team might have, but what other questions might you predict? What’s different about this month? What new questions might be asked? How would you respond? What additional information might you need to have to hand to support more detailed questions?

In particular, spend some time brainstorming the most difficult questions that people might ask, and preparing and rehearsing good answers to them.

8. Practice Clear Delivery
How you say something is almost as important as what you say. If you mumble or use “umm” or “ah” between every second word, confidence in what you are saying plummets. Whenever you are speaking with people, make a point to practice these key oration skills:

  • Speak in a strong voice. (Don’t confuse strong with loud!)
  • Use pauses strategically to emphasize a point or slow yourself down
  • Vary your tone and pay attention to how your message will be perceived given the intonation you use
  • Use eye contact appropriately
  • Pay attention to your grammar
  • Use the level of formality that is appropriate to the situation.

9. Summarize and Stop
Wrap up your response with a quick summary statement. After that, resist adding more information. There may well be silence after your summary. Don’t make the common mistake of filling the silence with more information! This is the time when other people are adsorbing the information you have given. If you persist with more information, you may end up causing confusion and undoing the great work you’ve already done in delivering your response.

Use words to indicate you are summarizing (i.e. “in conclusion,” “finally”) or briefly restate the question and your answer. So – what did I do to analyze customer impacts? I reviewed the Dallas case files in detail, and prepared a “What if” analysis for our own situation.”

Key points:

No one enjoys being putting on the spot or answering questions that you aren’t fully expecting. The uncertainty can be stressful. That stress doesn’t need to be unmanageable and you can think on your feet if you remember the strategies we just discussed. Essentially, thinking on your feet means staying in control of the situation. Ask questions, buy time for yourself, and remember to stick to one point and make that one point count. When you are able to zoom in on the key areas of concern, you’ll answer like an expert and you impress your audience, and yourself, with your confidence and poise

Obama versus Mc Cain

The October issue of Toastmasters magazine  discusses the communications mode of the two candidates.

One has the appeal of a rock star and draws tens of thousands of fired-up fans to big arena rallies, giving speeches that have become instant classics and are compared to those of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy. The other is a confident debater who can answer just about any question tossed at him and has a knack for connecting with ordinary voters on his whistle-stop tours around the country.

The communication styles of U.S. Senators Barack Obama and John McCain are worlds apart, and the media has been quick to crown Obama, with his ability to mesmerize crowds with inspirational speeches, the superior communicator. But the verdict is still out on whose oratory skills will lead all the way to the White House when American voters elect the country’s 44th president in November. One thing is certain – until Election Day, the two candidates’ every move will be analyzed, and their message, choice of words, body language and cadence scrutinized. Here’s a look at what we can learn from comparing the contenders’ communication styles.

The Message
Obama, the Democratic senator from Illinois, early on opted for the overarching themes of “change” and “hope,” and that turned out to be an ingenious move. “These are two very broad, or what some would call vague, messages, but they clearly resonated with a large swath of the electorate,” says Ruth Sherman, a communication coach in Connecticut who blogged about the primary season for FastCompany.com. Initially criticized for lacking substance, Obama later added more details to his speeches.

McCain, on the other hand, started out focusing on what is considered his specialty – national security – betting that the Iraq war would be the defining issue of this election. The Arizona Republican has also emphasized his opposition to so-called “pork-barrel” programs, or wasteful government spending. “He’s trying to project reliability, competence, personal steadiness and that he’s a good manager, and he seems to be quite successful in communicating that,” says Bob Katz, an author and entrepreneur in the speaking industry.

Word Choice
One of Obama’s strengths is his conversational style, which he successfully molds to fit the audience. When speaking to college students, for example, Obama often uses slang and casual phrases. He also tends to use a lot of inclusive words, and that makes people respond positively.

“Obama uses a lot of words like you, us, our troops, and all of us, and that makes people identify with him,” says Kathleen K. Kendall, a research professor in the University of Maryland’s department of communication.

“McCain’s longtime service in the Senate has made him a
confident debater who is fluent on many of the issues.”

McCain uses more traditional language that’s less vivid and more formal than Obama’s. “You can tell he’s been influenced by his 20-plus years in the Senate. His language doesn’t have the fresh, impromptu quality of Obama’s, and it’s almost clichéd in its formality,” says Kendall. “McCain’s language is more general and he doesn’t have any slogans that he repeats. He’s not as strong in terms of being memorable.”

She adds, “Obama often quotes the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as President John F. Kennedy. Both were eloquent speakers, and these quotes add to Obama’s own eloquence.”

The way Obama delivers a prepared speech is the reason communication experts are raving about him. “You get the feeling from Obama that he could read a recipe to you and you would feel inspired,” says Sherman, the communication coach. Or in the words of Republican media consultant Alex Castellanos on CNN’s The Situation Room: “He is the guy who can stand on top of the mountain top and say, ‘We’re going to go over here.’ And he lifts people that way.”

So what’s Obama’s secret? For starters, he’s mastered the teleprompter to the point where it takes a trained eye to realize he’s reading off a screen. Secondly, he effectively uses pauses to give people a chance to digest his message, applaud and sometimes passionately chant one of his slogans.

“That allows [the audience] to connect with him emotionally,” says Sherman. “Everybody feels like they’re very much a part of him. It’s masterful.”

His energy and friendly appearance also help explain why he’s been able to captivate followers by the thousands.

To say that McCain lacks many of Obama’s qualities when he delivers scripted speeches is an understatement. He’s notably uncomfortable, sounds like he’s reading the lines from a script, smiles at awkward times and doesn’t pause to let the audience applaud.

“Rallies are not his thing. He doesn’t seem to know where one sentence ends and another begins,” says Sherman.

Even Republican strategists admit speeches are not McCain’s strongest venue – but debates are a different story. While Obama sometimes fumbles when he doesn’t have a teleprompter or the choice of questions and topics, McCain’s longtime service in the Senate has made him a confident debater who is fluent on many of the issues.

“You get the feeling from Obama that he could read
a recipe to you and you would feel inspired.”

McCain’s experience also helps him at town-hall meetings and in question-and-answer sessions, where his style is more conversational than it is from behind a lectern.

“He can answer just about anything, even hostile questions,” says Kendall. “He actually encourages questions from people who disagree with him and that’s courageous, since questions are always a potential threat. He knows how to deal with them.”

Partly because of the big age difference – Obama is 46 and McCain is 72 – Obama has the upper hand when it comes to voice. Not only is his voice more youthful and energetic, Obama also knows how to use it, which is crucial on the campaign trail. In contrast, McCain’s voice is thin and doesn’t project very well.

“Obama has a more enthusiastic voice and has more vocal variety, which is so important in keeping the attention of the audience,” says Kendall. “If you don’t provide variety, the audience will tune out. Obama’s pitch, tone and volume are varied, and those are all very important.”

Interpersonal Communication
Going on whistle-stop tours through small-town America and showing off your interpersonal communication skills is mandatory for anyone vying to become President of the United States. Whereas McCain seems comfortable making small talk with truck-stop owners and answering off-the-cuff questions from factory workers, Obama often looks ill at ease when he has to get off the campaign bus on his stump tours.

Several of these situations have come back to haunt Obama, including his abysmal performance in a Pennsylvania bowling alley, and his tendency to reject food offered to him on the road by well-meaning constituents. “He’s not comfortable in these settings and it’s hurting him with middle-class voters,” says Sherman. “It communicates a lack of understanding of how to connect with people on the ground, and it’s something he must overcome. It’s his biggest weakness.”

Non-verbal Communication
Looking presidential is one thing – looking too sophisticated another. The fact that Obama, in Sherman’s words, “doesn’t look comfortable when he doesn’t have a tie on” could work in McCain’s favor. McCain is older, heavier and doesn’t dress in fancy suits like Obama. “For certain constituencies a more casual appearance communicates that ‘this guy knows what my life is like, he knows how hard it is to fill up my pick-up truck,’” says Sherman. “It doesn’t matter whether [McCain] actually does, what matters is what he shows people.”

Obama’s upscale appearance may turn off some voters, but his body language is as smooth as his speeches. He moves with grace and has even showed off some dance moves on the campaign trail, sending the message that he’s uninhibited and youthful.

“He seems really comfortable in his own skin, even when he puts his hands in his pockets, which is usually a no-no,” says Sherman. She only has one complaint: “Obama points too much. He’s either pointing with one hand or the other. His hands should be open and variably expressive when he’s speaking.”

McCain’s ability to communicate through body language is limited due to injuries he sustained as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He walks slowly and can’t move his upper arms very well, and Sherman suspects a lot of voters may not realize why. “I think it’s going to hurt McCain. Somebody will have to explain it.”

So does a person’s communication skills really tell us anything about his ability to lead the country? Yes and no, according to Katz. In a March 24 op-ed piece in Newsday, Katz argued that the spoken word remains the best opportunity voters have to get to know the candidates:

“The notion of the ‘good talker’ has long vexed us. Eloquent and slick are often perceived as two sides of the same coin, and our history contains as many examples of being bamboozled by inspiring charlatans as being inspired by bona fide visionaries. Yet, most of us believe there’s a correlation, and possibly a very strong one, between verbal skill and intellectual aptitude.”

But since very few people will ever get a chance to see the candidates in situations that aren’t carefully staged and scripted by their campaign staffs, voters need to start thinking about the candidates’ speaking styles on a deeper level, advises Katz. Rather than overplaying a person’s ability to recite prepared lines, we should ask ourselves who is the better communicator overall, who has the most compelling message and who manages to keep the facts straight.

And it’s the rare occasions when the candidates aren’t in complete control that may tell us the most about them.

“Let’s look at the press conferences and some of the really confrontational debates,” Katz says. “Let’s see how they respond to questions. My sense is that [McCain and Obama] are both quite capable that way.”

OBAMA’s Berlin Speech- July08

As a keen Toastmaster, I immediately moved to get a copy of the speech, to study Obama’s discourse and to analyse his style. I read the text a couple of times to model the way, he catches the attention of his audience, and he keeps the interest of his audience whilst at the same time conveying the message he wants.
The use of repetition and the structuring of the speech and the use of chosen and appropriate words, I thought were great. How would you, listener, not associate ‘Berlin’ with ‘ the fall of Wall’? How did he arouse emotions of his audience in his delivery and what were the keys words he used to leverage passion and the desired effects? Unfortunately, I miss a recorded version of his speech, where I could have experienced the power of his voice, tones, and variations in delivery which no doubt would enhance the written text.
May I suggest to my toastmasters’ fellows to use this very topical, up to date speech, where we are in the understanding of the context and purpose of the speaker, as a model for building a speech in a speech craft lesson.

Text of Obama’s speech in Berlin 24 july2008 (Courtesy of International Herald Tribune)

BERLIN: Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.
That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.
Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.
On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.
This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.
The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.
And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.
The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.
But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won�The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty.
People of the world: now do your duty�People of the world, look at Berlin!”Where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.
Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.
Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.
People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.
Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.
The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.
As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.
Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.
In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.
In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.
Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.
That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.
The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.
So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.
That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.
This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.
This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.
This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.
This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.
This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.
And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?
Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.
I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.
These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.
People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Since I got to see the full speech on Youtube. It was great seeing and living this superb delivery. The last poll gives both candidates 40% . I sincerely wish OBAMA to be the next president in November.

Speaking in public

Being told how to cook and owning a recipe do not make you a cook, is it not? You become an accountant after spending years of studies in the appropriate field and pass the examination which tests your knowledge of the subjects. You are given the title of accountant by the governing bodies such as ACCA or Chartered Accountant ( CA) only after having passed the exams and having practiced accountancy for a number of years under specified conditions.

Knowledge by itself does not give you a trade; practice and experience must be included. How many students, who have learned management for years, albeit at university level, can be called managers in absence of any practice?

How many of us know how to speak? Does the knowledge qualify us to become a public speaker? Likewise, we can learn leadership and leadership skills, but until we have practiced leadership for some years, we cannot pretend to be leaders. Toastmasters offer you the possibility of learning communication & leadership skills and practicing them. I recommend my readers to try out and join one of the Toastmasters club within your vicinity. I laughed when I read on today’s Le Mauricien out of the Societe section “astuce Prendre la Parole” which to my liking, came out of the blue. It is better than nothing. Was it meant for the parliamentaries we voted in, where the foremost skills should be those of communication & leadership? Thank you Le Mauricien for the knowledge but do run to Toastmasters for the practice.


Prendre la parole

Si la prise de parole est le plus souvent associée à un orateur face à un public important, nous savons que les enjeux de nos communications orales ne dépendent pas du nombre de spectateurs, de la taille de la salle ou de la hauteur de la tribune mais plus de la manière dont nous nous exprimons.

Le trac

Devoir d’adresser à un public est un puissant générateur de trac et cela n’est pas forcément un handicap. C’est la prise de conscience de l’enjeu qui engendre le trac : il faut convaincre, s’exprimer clairement, séduire, sans quoi le propos, aussi intéressant soit-il, n’atteindra pas l’auditoire. Le trac peut être aussi une source d’énergie et de punch dont on doit user à bon escient : un trac bien négocié est un trac utile. Il mobilise l’énergie dont on a besoin pour faire face à une situation inhabituelle ou déstabilisante, il permet le passage à l’acte de la prise de parole qui, lui-même, fait disparaître le trac.

La respiration

Les deux temps important de la respiration sont l’inspiration et l’expiration. Il existe trois types de respiration, soit claviculaire, thoracique et abdominale, mais toutefois seule cette dernière, celle qui sollicite les muscles abdominaux, est adaptée à l’expression orale. Cette respiration par le ventre est la première que nous avons connue car elle est innée. Toutefois, au fil des années, nous perdons tous les techniques de cette respiration apaisante. Alors il suffit de la travailler régulièrement et sans précipitation et vous parviendrez à respirer de cette façon à volonté. Il faut vous rééduquer à vous calmer dans les moments de trac afin justement d’en faire un allié. Petit exercise pratique : allongé sur le dos avec une main sur le ventre, inspirez profondément et ensuite relâchez progressivement la tension abdominale. À répéter à plusieurs reprises pour décompresser tout en douceur.

La décontraction

Les tensions parasites entravent votre expression et votre liberté de mouvement. Votre attitude physique générale, vos mains, ou d’éventuels tics nerveux, sont autant de signaux que perçoit votre interlocuteur et qui le renseignent à votre insu.

Plus votre corps sera libre, plus votre parole coulera avec aisance.

Comme un sportif, travaillez la détente du corps pour le rendre disponible et plus fort. Une méthode simple : contractez une partie du corps puis relâchez progressivement la tension, faites-le pour les muscles du visage et jusqu’au bout des orteils, petit bout par petit bout. Plus forte sera la tension, plus forte sera la détente !

La préparation

Trois approches pour se préparer à des événements importants : la visualisation, l’automotivation et le corps starter de l’émotion

1) La visualisation

Elle s’utilise de deux manières :

Premièrement, se visualiser en train de faire une prise de parole brillante, dans le lieu et face au public et deuxièmement : visualiser des images personnelles qui vous mettent dans un état positif, agréable et disponible.

2) L’automotivation :

La pensée positive a fait ses preuves. N’en minimisez pas les résultats et dites-vous que tout ira bien.

3) Le corps starter de l’émotion

Développée par le Studio Pygmalion, cette approche a fait ses preuves : vous pouvez par le corps créer des émotions positives pour aborder la prise de parole. L’utilisation des gestes, des postures et de la respiration vont vous aider à exprimer par le corps vos émotions.


L’articulation est la puissance de la diction, qui est quant à elle un élément fondamental de l’expression orale, qui se décompose en articulation et prononciation.

Dans un premier temps, c’est le minimum de la politesse que d’articuler pour bien se faire comprendre. Au-delà de ce premier constat, articuler c’est aussi se donner les moyens d’être plus fort et plus efficace.

L’appui sur les voyelles et les diphtongues donne de l’amplitude et renforce la notion de plaisir et de ” gourmandise ” des mots. En s’appuyant sur les consonnes, vous donnerez du poids aux mots et vous consoliderez votre impact et votre conviction. Entraînez-vous régulièrement avant une prise de parole.

Quelques phrases à prononcer et à articuler :

* Dis-moi gros gras grand grain d’orge quand te dégros gras grand grain d’orgeras-tu ? Je me dégros gras grand grain d’orgerai, quand tous les gros gras grand grain d’orge se seront dégros gras grand grain d’orgés.

* Le fisc fixe exprès chaque taxe fixe excessive exclusivement au luxe et à l’exquis.

* Qui crut croquer une crevette crue croqua une croquette croquante.

* L’huile de huit huiliers huile sans bruit les huis de huit huissiers.

Le silence

On dit souvent que la parole est d’argent et le silence est d’or. Dicton qui se révèle exact surtout lors d’un discours car le silence est alors un bon moyen de reprendre sa respiration et de ménager ses effets. Faites des silences, des respirations et laissez respirer votre public. Le silence est aussi un outil pour être à l’écoute du public, s’il y a des réactions par rapport à ce que vous venez de dire.

Le sourire

Devant votre public, n’oubliez pas de sourire car c’est un signe d’ouverture qui représente une certaine disponibilité. N’oubliez pas que l’humeur de votre auditoire dépend de votre humeur à vous. Si vous choisissez d’être joyeux et ouvert, vous vous retrouverez en face d’un public positivement réactif. L’humeur possède la particularité de déteindre sur votre interlocuteur, vous l’avez sûrement constaté, et cela s’appelle l’empathie. Profitez-en au maximum pour rendre l’audience plus disposée à votre égard !

(Source : Internet)

5 Practices of Leadership

How do you make it possible for ordinary people to accomplish the extra-ordinary? How do you get people to follow you to places they’ve never been before? How do you get other people with free will and choice to move forward together on a common purpose? Just how do you get others to want to do things that matter and make a difference?

In helping the Toastmasters club to start in Mauritius, in a sense I have with my Toastmasters friends attempted to answer the above questions or least created a practising ground to hone our skills in a friendly atmosphere. I rejoice to learn that the Port Louis Toastmasters club is growing from strength to strength. I am invigorated. I like to make more contributions to see the sprouting of the latent leadership talents of my fellow Toastmasters. I have in mind those who are working on the leadership track.

JAMES KOUZES & BARRY POSNER have studied the performance of great leaders and have been able to single out the five practices that enable them to get extraordinary things done. I would recommend you to read their books on leadership to sharpen your personal skills.

I like to call this KOUZES & POSNER’s piece of work: the five practices of Leadership.

1. Challenge the process.

Leaders venture out. Those who lead others to greatness seek and accept challenge. Although some people attribute their success to “being in the right place at the right time”or even to “luck,” none merely sit idly by waiting for fate to smile on them. Every single personal best leadership case involves some challenge—perhaps an innovative new product, a cutting-edge service, groundbreaking legislation, an invigorating campaign, a revolutionary turnaround, or the start-up of a new business.

No Leaders are pioneers—people who step out into the unknown. They take risks, innovate, and experiment to find new and better ways of doing things. But leaders need not always be the creators or originators of new products, services, or processes. Product and service innovations tend to come from customers, clients, vendors, people in the labs, and people on the front lines.

The leader´s primary contribution is in recognizing good ideas, supporting those ideas, and challenging the system to get new products, processes, services, and systems adopted. They know that innovation and change involve risk and potential failure. The key that unlocks the door to opportunity is learning in the face of obstacles. As weather shapes mountains, problems shape leaders. Leaders are learners. They learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.one achieves a personal best by keeping things the same.

2. Inspiring a shared vision.

When people describe their personal-best leadership experiences, they tell of times when they imagine exciting futures. They have visions and dreams of what could be. They have absolute belief in these visions, and they are confident in their abilities to make extraordinary things happen. Every organization begins with a dream. The vision is the force that invents the future.

Leaders inspire a shared vision. They gaze across the horizon of time, imagining the attractive opportunities that are in store. Leaders desire to make something happen, to change the way things are, to create something new.

In some ways, leaders live their lives backwards. They see pictures in their mind of the results even before they start their projects. Their clear image of the future pulls them forward. Yet, visions seen only by leaders are insufficient to create an organized movement or a significant change. A person with no constituents is not a leader, and people will not follow until they accept a vision as their own. Leaders cannot command commitment; they can only inspire it.

To enlist people in a vision, leaders must know their constituents and speak their language. People must believe that leaders understand their needs and have their interests at heart. Only by knowing their dreams, hopes, aspirations, visions, and values can the leaders enlist support. Leadership is a dialogue, not a monologue. Breathing life into the hopes and dreams of others enables them to see exciting possibilities. Leaders forge a unity of purpose by showing constituents how the dream is for the common good.

Leaders communicate their passion through vivid language and an expressive style. The leader´s own belief in and enthusiasm for the vision are the sparks that ignite the flame of inspiration.

3. Enabling others to act.

Grand dreams do not become significant realities through the actions of a single leader. Leadership is a team effort. We developed a simple one-word test to detect whether people are becoming leaders—the frequency of their use of the word we. Exemplary leaders enlist the support of all who must make the project work. In today´s virtual organization, cooperation is not just within a small group of loyalists. It includes peers, managers, customers, clients, suppliers, citizens—all those who have a stake in the vision. Leaders involve those who must live with the results, and enable others to do good work. People do not do their best when they feel weak, incompetent, and alienated. Those who must produce the results must feel a sense of ownership.

The work of leaders is making people feel strong, capable, informed, and connected. Leaders enable others to act, not by hoarding power, but by giving it away. When people have more discretion, authority, and information, they are more likely to use their energies to produce extraordinary results.

Leaders know that teamwork, trust, and empowerment are essential. Leaders turn their followers into leaders themselves. This requires leadership to be a relationship, founded on trust and confidence. Without trust and confidence, people do not take risks. Without risks, there is no change. Without change, organizations and movements die.

4.Modeling the way.

Titles are granted, but leadership is earned. Your behavior earns you respect. Leaders don´t ask others to do things they are unwilling to do first. Leaders go first. They set an example and build commitment through simple, daily acts that create progress and build momentum.

Leaders must first be clear about their guiding principles. Leaders are supposed to stand up for their beliefs, so they had better have beliefs. Eloquent speeches about common values are not enough. Leaders´ deeds are far more important than their words and must be consistent with them. New tomorrows are not realized without hard work and persistence. Personal-best projects require relentless effort, steadfastness, competence, and attention to detail.

Leaders need operational plans. They must steer projects along the course, measure performance, give feedback, meet budgets and schedules, and take corrective action. Concentrating on producing small wins, leaders build confidence that even the biggest challenges can be met. They strengthen commitment to the long-term future.

5. Encouraging the heart.

The climb to the top is arduous and long. People become exhausted, frustrated, and disenchanted. They are tempted to give up. Leaders encourage their constituents to carry on. If people sense a charlatan making noisy pretenses, they will turn away. But genuine acts of caring uplift the spirits and draw people forward.

It is part of the leader´s job to show people that they can win. Encouragement can come from dramatic gestures or simple actions, individual recognition or group celebration. Encouragement is serious business. It is how leaders link rewards with performance. When striving to raise quality, recover from disaster, start a new service, or make a change, leaders make sure people benefit when behavior is aligned with cherished values. Caring is at the heart of leadership.

Leaders also give themselves encouragement. They love what they are doing. Love—of their products, their services, their constituents, their clients and customers, and their work—may just be the best-kept leadership secret of all.

The self-confidence required to lead comes from learning about ourselves—our skills, prejudices, talents, and shortcomings. Self-confidence develops as we build on strengths and overcome weaknesses. The best leaders take advantage of the broadest possible range of opportunities. They try, fail, and learn from their mistakes.


Last Friday, I attended the Port Louis Toastmasters annual dinner at the Caudan Water front Ocean restaurant. It is traditional at each business year end for the out going president to close his year with a sum up of the activities during his tenure and for the newly elected president to present his team and to share his or her focused objectives for the coming year.

We thus saw outgoing president Eddy Tong Sam remitting symbolical the gavel to the in coming president Wairimu Kanja-Ristic. Wai, as she is called by most of the members, has committed this year’s team to give non members of Toastmasters the taste of learning and growing through playfulness by organising public targeted events.

This being the direction taken by the Port Louis Toastmaster club, I thought that I had to comment on Toastmasters to my blog readers  and to raise your level of awareness in possibilities that are offered to each one of you , where ever you may be in Mauritius or else where in the world to join in a Toastmasters club.

Do find out: how Toastmasters can enhance your people skills: both communications and leadership skills? Discover: How fun it can be to be part of a world wide well structured self-development club? Enjoy the fellowship of friends, value the uniqueness of each person, and be cross pollinated by the difference in style, thinking, upbringing and cultures.

I for one have gained a lot from Toastmasters. My biggest wins were: 1. to become more structured in my thinking, 2.to become a better communicator by being a better listener, 3. and to deliver in a sequence that is optimum to my audience’s receptivity.