May 30, 2012

Getting A Video Recording Of Your Speech

video camera Canon Vixia HF R200by Jonathan Holowka, VP Membership 2011-2012, CC

The days of tape and standard definition video are over.

Goodyear Toastmasters just purchased a brand new HD video camera, a Canon Vixia HF R200 (Amazon link). Thanks Gulzar for doing the research.

The new camera records videos on an SD Card. This changes how you get your recorded speeches from now on. Essentially, you will have two options on how to view/receive your recorded speech. These are:
  1. YouTube (using the club’s SD card)
  2. Bring your own SD card


Before worrying about putting your speeches on YouTube, please read the following about YouTube's three levels of privacy settings and how these apply if you wish to view your speeches this way.

YouTube Privacy Setting level #1 – PUBLIC

This is the default level setting of YouTube videos. If you were to search out "Jonathan Holowka Speech" then my videos would come up and you could watch them.

YouTube Privacy Setting level #2 – UNLISTED

In this setting, if you try to search out the video it will not be found. However, it is online and can be watched but only if you are provided with the direct link.

Here is an example. Our recent club video of the Executive Role Descriptions was set to unlisted. The only people that are able to see this video are club members. If you type the video title "ELECTION PANEL 2012" into the YouTube search bar, this video will not show up. Go ahead and try.

YouTube Privacy Setting level #3 – PRIVATE

This final level is the same as Unlisted, however even if you are provided with the link you will not be able to view it without being given explicit permission by the club officer who manages our YouTube channel.

Here is an example of a private video on my own YouTube channel: Click it and see what happens.

If you wish to have your speeches recorded and put on YouTube, please let us know which privacy setting you wish for your video.

Why Put Video Online?

There are also 3 distinct advantages to having your video put online:
  1. Convenience: there is no work from your end
  2. Cost: you do not have to buy or maintain an SD card
  3. Portability: you can watch from any computer that has Internet access and you will not be able to lose the video

look for the 10Option #2 - Bring Your Own SD Card

I am not going to go into detail on this, However this option is very simple. Simply go out and purchase your own Class 10 SD card and bring it when you are doing a speech. We will use it in the club camera and you can take your SD Card home and do with it as you wish.

You can purchase a Class 10 SD Card from any store that sells camera supplies. A Class 10 SD Card usually costs between $10 - $20. You’ll want a minimum size of 4 GB. Larger is better.

What does "Class 10" mean? This is simply the recording speed of the card. If you use anything less than Class 10 (eg. class 9, class 8, class 7, etc.) it will not record properly. You can tell what class an SD card is by looking at the number circled on the front of the card.


Jonathan Holowka is currently VP Membership 2011-2012 and founder of Create A Resume. On July 1, he starts his term as President 2012-2013.

May 27, 2012

Polish Your Presentation With Presenter View In PowerPoint

PowerPoint Presenter View (click to enlarge)by Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

"It's easier to find a new audience than to write a new speech."
--- Dan Kennedy, marketer

If you deliver the same presentation over and over, you'll soon know what to say. That's comforting. It's also boring. Why not put a video on YouTube and get to something new?

My presentations keep changing. This is riskier but warranted: the audiences vary and my thinking evolves. Elements get re-used but there is usually something new.

The challenge is adding polish when your content is fresh. You can’t easily practice an hour long session. PowerPoint comes to your rescue.


The Presenter View is your easy-to-overlook friend. When you’re designing a slide, you probably know what you want to say  --- especially if you tend to use bullet points. Even then, you may want to say things in a particular way.

The bigger challenge is the transition between slides. Polish comes from knowing what to say just before or just as the next slide appear.


To use Presenter View, you need two displays. On one you show what the audience will see. The other shows what you'll see. You can decide which monitor is which. I put the Presenter View on my notebook computer. The second display could be a monitor or a projector.

Depending on your computer, you may need to press a combination of keys to use an Extended Display with different content on each screen. In Windows 7, pressing the Windows key and P at the same time may be enough.


When presenting live, I use Presenter View often. Projectors vary. They often show the same content on your screen and the big screen ("cloning"). That's of no use. If you arrive early, you'll have time to experiment and get the settings right.

For best results, use your own computer.


Promod Sharma has been using Presenter View for years when developing, practicing and delivering presentations like Be The One They Want for job seekers.

May 26, 2012

Do You Stay Up Late The Night Before Your Presentation?

dog tiredby Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC
‘Tis the night before a presentation
and all through the house,
not a creature is stirring
’cept my ‘puter mouse.
That's because I'm still making changes to my slides.

Get Rest

When you sleep early the night before a presentation, you're alert the next day. You look fresh. Your mind is sharp. You're in control. Your socks match. You're at your best.

What if you can't sleep because you're worrying about your presentation? You won't be fresh, sharp or at your best.

Stay Up

I tend to stay up late the night before. This allows time for last minute refinements that improve quality. When I do go to bed, I'm ready to sleep.

I should have trouble waking up the next morning. While I'll be tired, there's a nervous excitement that gets me out of bed and ready to go. Exhaustion doesn’t hit until after my session.


Presenting with a hazy mind can be an advantage. The content is fresher in your memory even if you're not fresh. You have a deeper understanding.

My haze evaporates just before I start speaking. Thanks nervous energy! I might make interesting deviations from what I planned to say. That's an advantage of a wandering mind.

There are drawbacks to lack of sleep. I tend to use more crutchwords and longer, run-on sentences. The conscious mind is less able to maintain quality control. I didn't realize this was happening until I started recording my sessions.

Why am I telling you all this? I have a presentation to freelancers on How To Earn And Keep Trust in the morning. I really should be asleep. Instead, I’m blogging and tweaking. Why break tradition?


Promod Sharma is more of a night owl than an early bird. You'll find his presentations at

May 20, 2012

Celebrating 50+5 Blog Posts For Speakers And Leaders

enjoy the fruitby Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

This is the 55th blog post!

Why not celebrate the 50th post? That was the intent but that milestone passed silently.


Blogging is easy to start ... and even easier to quit.

Psychologically, 50 posts feels like the minimum for a real blog during a year. Each of my two personal blogs (Marketing Actuary and Riscario Insider) has a post per week with a break in late December.

A regular schedule is also important. The goal is what Seth Godin calls consistent persistent generosity. I promised that this blog would have two posts per week from Jan 1, 2012 to June 30, 2012, when my term as club President ends. That schedule has been maintained.


This blog was intended to inspire club members to show courage by blogging here. That hasn't happened. I've written most of the posts, especially in recent months.

Leaders make statements that go on the record. Blogging is a low-key way to build leadership skills, another way that Toastmasters helps members.

I was especially hoping that the club executive would volunteer to participate. They haven't and I haven't pressed them.


I already publish about 1,000 words a week (two personal blogs, each with a post of about 500 words). Here, I focused on two weekly posts of about 350 words each (minimum 300 words). As an exercise, I looked for ways to write faster and used techniques from Table Topics.

I start with an idea that happens to come to mind. I then write and publish about 350 words. The process takes an hour. Here's where the time goes
  1. 15 min: initial draft (see how to write better faster using an iPad and iA Writer)
  2. 30 min: editing and adding links (mainly on the iPad)
  3. 15 min: finalizing and posting (using Windows Live Writer)
Some posts have images. Finding and editing an image takes about 15 minutes.
Since I've been writing four posts a week (two here and two of my own), I've gotten faster. Practice does help. I'm also getting more ideas, especially for short posts.

Because the ideas keep flowing out, I know I can write a book. I can also sketch out new presentations much faster (using mind mapping).


I'm hoping the new executive will continue to support the blog. I'm intending to write one post per week. In a year, we'll have at least 100 posts. That will be worth celebrating ... if other members contribute regularly.


Promod Sharma has written over 500 blog posts since 2007 about marketing for entrepreneurs and risk.

Tips For Telling Stories

engrossedby Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

We love stories, especially when they’re told to us.

Including stories makes your talk more engaging and memorable. There's a temptation to tell true stories but there aren't any.
We always speak from our perspective, which causes distortions. The audience interprets, which creates further distortions.

Here are tips for telling stories
  1. Ditch fake stories
  2. Tell unique stories
  3. Edit for impact

Ditch Fake Stories

Some speakers use stories from others without attribution. Maybe you've heard a variation of this one:
I was on the subway platform and three children were running around annoying everyone. I nearly spilled my coffee. The father wasn't doing anything. I was annoyed. I told him to supervise his children. It's as if he hadn't noticed them. He said they were returning from the hospital where their mom just died. They didn't know how to react. Neither did he.
It's a good story ... the first time. I've heard at least three variations. Each speaker claimed the experience happened to them. That's unlikely. How can you trust a speaker who's deceived you? How original can their content really be?

Tell Unique Stories

You can tell stories from others and give them credit. That’s fine for beginners. As your skills improve, you face the risk of your audience having heard the same tale from another speaker. How does that position you as the expert?

The most unique stories are the ones that happened to you and told from your perspective. How can anyone else copy that?

Edit For Impact

Real life is often boring. Find the essence of your story and express it in an impactful way. Isn't that cheating? No. You have goals and time limits. You have to edit anyway. Write out your full story and edit out what isn't needed.

Ask yourself if the story is even relevant. Just because you want to tell it does not mean the audience benefits. If you're compelled to tell stories, you can put recordings on YouTube, blog or record podcasts.

The End.


Promod Sharma is an actuary who has been learning to add impact with stories (

May 13, 2012

Transitioning To New Executive At A Toastmasters Club

nurtureby Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

Our club elections took place this week. There's an excellent incoming executive team for Goodyear Toastmasters from Jul 1, 2012 to Jun 30, 2013. I was nominated in several categories but declined. When there are other strong and willing candidates, they deserve opportunities too.

I'm still willing to volunteer to help, especially with this blog. I hope the new executive will contribute posts, which may spur more members to participate.

Pass The Kleenex

There's a certain sadness to leaving a role. There's also happiness from having worked with an excellent team and for leaving the club in a sound state. Clubs earn Distinguished Club Points (DCP). Once again, our club is at the highest level: President's Distinguished level. That takes 9 DCP points. However, this year, we earned all 10 points.


There's a transition process. This month, the current club executive will have our final monthly meeting alone. On second Monday in June, we'll have a joint meeting of the outgoing and incoming executive at the President's place over dinner. That’s when the outgoing executive describe their roles and pass over material to help with the transition. The new executive will need to get official Club Officers Training in June.

On the second last Thursday in June (the regular club meeting night), we'll have our annual Potluck Picnic. That's the last major activity the outgoing executive.

In With The New

The new executive rule from July 1 to the following June 30. Our club meets all year, though attendance tends to be lower during the summer. That allows the new executive to get comfortable in their roles.

Whether or not you ran for office, there are many opportunities to participate in your Toastmasters club. Getting involved is an excellent way to get more benefits and help other members.


Promod Sharma has weeks left as club President. He's looking forward to taking a break and spending more time writing books in the Trust And You series (

Mommy, Learn To Speak Better

mother and childby Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

If you're a mother with a young child, your speaking skills may deteriorate. When you spend time with other mothers with young children don’t you talk about similar issues? You need a break.

Would you like to sharpen your communication skills? Consider joining a Toastmasters community club. You meet adults with diverse backgrounds and get a chance to stop speaking like a mommy.

Preparation Time

You’re busy. You may not have much time to prepare. Some roles like Greeter, Timer and Crutchword Counter require no preparation. Roles like Quote Master, Trivia Master or Humour Master require limited preparation.


Table Topics gives you an opportunity to practice your impromptu speaking. You talk about a randomly-selected topic for a minute. Since children come up with the weirdest things, you may already be good at this. You may get ideas to discuss at home.

This week, we pulled pennies from a bag and spoke about what we did that year. The assignment was both easy and difficult. Depending on how old your children are, you could do something similar. For instance, use a magnifying glass find the date on the coin (that'll be fun). Take the last digit of the year and treat that as an age. What were you doing at that age? [Not recommended for children who swallow coins.]


Children have such energy and curiosity. Your experiences with them could be ideal for speeches. You won't know unless you try. Notice how children make many mistakes but learn from them. If you fear speaking in public, Toastmasters gives you a safe environment to improve.

As a side benefit, you can practice your speeches with your children and get them creating stories. Learning the basic structure of having a beginning, middle and end gives them a solid foundation for future speaking. You're also showing the importance of communication skills.


It's Mother's Day today. Maybe you get breakfast in bed, a nice card or a meal out. Enjoy that.

For a gift with lasting value, consider Toastmasters. You'll find an inexpensive and worthwhile way to spend solo time away from home. We're well-behaved.


Promod Sharma wishes all mothers a wonderful Mother's Day (

May 6, 2012

Should You Join An Advanced Toastmasters Club?

climbingby Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

After you complete your Competent Communicator (CC) manual, you can join an Advanced Toastmasters club. You still maintain a connection with your home club but now you can also benefit from being with more experienced speakers.

In theory.


You have limited choices since there aren't many advanced clubs. If there are fewer members, you won't get as many suggestions on how to improve. If you don't like a member or two, you may not like the chemistry of that club.

The big problem is the meaning of "advanced". It's difficult to get a failing grade on a Toastmasters speech. Encouragement is motivating but speakers might think they're better than they really are because of the certificates they've received.


Speakers can get stuck in ruts. That's why many PowerPoint presentations still have too much text and too few visuals. Change is difficult.

Do you see the dilemma? You might be getting feedback from speakers who think they're great but are stuck in worn-out routines. You risk getting tips that don’t work well with today’s shorter attention spans. For instance, there’s an old speaking formula: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and tell them you told them. Sensible but boring. Do you see that approach routinely used in movies, plays, keynotes or TED Talks?


Members of a niche (say speakers, entrepreneurs, economists) tend to think in similar ways. They become predictable and hence redundant. You might find greater wisdom in a diverse crowd.

For years, I've been speaking to the financial sector. The audiences tend to be technical (or think they are). Advice from self-proclaimed expert speakers tends to be similar. Listen to them and you'll become a speaker much like them. Deviate and you'll stand out.

See For Yourself

If you're already in a club you like, you may benefit most by staying there. You'll also be helping less experienced members.

Visiting an advanced club is definitely worthwhile. Joining might not be.


Promod Sharma ( is currently working on his Advanced Communicator Bronze in his original club.

Finding The Right Toastmasters Club For You

making the right choiceby Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

Please don't judge Toastmasters by a visit to a single club or what someone else tells you.

Each club is different. Before joining, do try more than one (unless you love the first one). Clubs meet at different times of day (morning, noon or evening) and different days of the week. Some are open to the community and others are restricted to employees of a single company. Some clubs don't run all year (e.g., university clubs).

Most important, each club has a different feeling. You may be surprised at the variations. Some feel stuffy, formal and nitpicky. Others feel warm, forgiving and welcoming.

Your choices depend on where you live or work. A big city like Toronto offers many options, especially if you're willing to commute.


To find a club, go to Meetup ( or the official Toastmasters website ( A normal web search may help too.


Goodyear Toastmasters meets weekly all year long (except around Christmas and New Years). You don't take the summer off. In some ways, the summer is the best time to attend. The atmosphere is more relaxed and there's even more flexibility in the scheduling.

Meetings take place on Thursday evenings at 6:45 PM for two hours. Thursday is the ideal day of week because you're closer to the weekend. Meetings take place after dinner, which reduces time pressure. Meetings run for two hours, which eliminates the rush to zip through. There's also considerable flexibility. If a member wants practice a real-life presentation or answer mock interview questions, there's often time because 20 minutes is set aside for a Lesson, Viewpoint or Debate.

The club is also open to the community, which fosters diversity. Even if you normally speak to a niche audience, practicing among "regular" people is an excellent way to build skills.

Your Choices

You may think the ideal club meets at lunchtime where you work. By visiting other clubs you may find a better fit.


Promod Sharma joined Goodyear Toastmasters without visiting any other clubs (