August 31, 2012

I Love My Club - Contest Promo

Hey Goodyear Toastmasters!

This is a message from your 2012 club president, straight from me to you!

District 60 has announced a contest called I Love My Club calling all Toastmaster clubs to come up with a short 2 minute video on why they love their club. What will the winning club get?

  1. Video will be posted on the District 60 site (free marketing!)
  2. $100 Toastmaster Buck Certificates (improve club equipment!)
  3. Movie Speak
  4. Free Club Banner
  5. Bragging rights as the #1 Club!

This is a call to action for Goodyear Toastmasters to create a video on September 13th which shows why we truly love our club more than all the other clubs in District 60! And if there's one thing I know about Goodyear Toastmasters, is that our members truly do love our club. Even if you are uncomfortable being on camera, there will be other ways you can get involved and help out so there is truly is no reason to not be here!

So come one - come all! Take part in the creation of our I Love My Club contest video on September 13 at Goodyear Toastmasters in Etobicoke!

I'll be there, will you?

August 26, 2012

Speak Better By Looking At Your Voice With Audacity

by Promod Sharma, CC

To improve your speaking, record your voice and listen to the playback later. You probably know this.

Recording is easy and inexpensive. You can use your smartphone or a portable recorder. A video camera is even better because you see yourself too.

Audio Only

When you speak in person , your physical presence helps communicate your message. Foibles get overlooked.

On radio or in a podcast, your voice is much more important. Mistakes become more glaring. Listening to yourself helps but watching the waveforms in your voice is even more helpful.

Be Audacious

Record yourself with Audacity, a free application that works on Windows, Mac and Linux. The installation is easy. If your computer doesn’t have a built-in microphone, you’ll need to get one. A desktop mic feels more natural than using a headset.A USB mic is easier to setup and has higher quality.


You can monitor the audio while you speak but this can be distracting. Instead, record yourself for a few minutes. You could read one of your speeches or an article. If you’re good at speaking impromptu, simply talk.

In the beginning, the microphone may be intimidating. I'd forget to breathe. You'll get better with practice.


After you finish, watch the screen as you listen to the playback. You’ll be able to see when you take a breath. You’ll see if your volume decreases as your lungs run out of air. You’ll see if you speak louder at some points such as the start of a sentence.


As you master recording with Audacity, start editing. This is good practice if you want to learn video editing later. What do you do with the recordings? You could to create a podcast.


Promod Sharma records a weekly podcast, Riscario Radio. There are over 180 episodes. You’ll find them on the Internet Archive, iTunes or the Riscario Insider blog.

August 19, 2012

Do An “Opposite” Speech

Do you see in black and white?
by Promod Sharma, CC

Stephen Covey said that we see the world not as it is but as we are. You’ll reach more of your audience if you look at the world differently.

Have you done a speech making points contrary to your views?

Think back to your last vacation. Would you recommend that trip to others? If yes, highlight the negatives instead. If no, highlight the positives.

Discomfort Zone

Here’s another idea. Think of something you consider an extravagance and usually avoid. That could be to:
  • take a day off when work is piling up
  • go to dinner and a play
  • get valet parking
  • go to a less nice restaurant than you normally would
What’s extravagant for you will be normal for some other people. Tony Robbins said that people do things for reasons that make sense to them. That doesn't mean those reasons make — or need to make — sense to us. You enrich yourself when you try to see why others like or do what you don’t.


Debates are part of the Toastmasters experience. At Goodyear Toastmasters, the room gets arbitrarily divided into two groups. You may be forced to briefly adopt a view contrary to your own. The topic could be gun control, for instance. This experience can help you see the world differently but you’re only involved briefly. You’re also competing to win, which can affect your motivation.

Doing something with conviction is much more effective than merely talking.


We benefit from looking at things in different ways. An "opposite" exercise helps you see different perspectives. That's helpful during Table Topics and real life situations like negotiations at work or home.

You can create a speech from your experiences.


To learn more about Promod Sharma, visit

August 12, 2012

Tips on Getting Interviewed By A Journalist

reporter's notebookby Promod Sharma, CC

I used to dread getting interviewed because I like to think before speaking. Weird, huh? Thanks to Table Topics and giving interactive presentations, I’ve learned to think much faster in impromptu situations.

Here are tips for when a professional journalist wants to interview you.


Look up the writer online. Read recent articles. Follow on Twitter. If you're being interviewed for a specific column, get familiar with the format.

Last week, I was interviewed by Larry MacDonald for the Me and My Money column in a major paper, The Globe and Mail. I read previous articles to see what other interviewees said. Would I have something fresh to say or echo what others already said?


Your interviewer may send you the questions in advance. You can then prepare written answers or practice for a phone interview.


To ensure accuracy, your interviewer may send you a draft of the entire article or your portions. You are not the editor. You are not being asked to make changes even if you now have other things to say. 

The writer has deadlines and probably won't appreciate nontrivial revisions. Pay attention to what you're being asked to do. Do only that. Afterwards, you can share your new ideas, which might lead to another column.

The draft may not look exactly the way you want. You are not the target audience. You can say more elsewhere. I usually write a blog post.

An Example
When you prepare a speech, you’ve got time constraints. That limits what you can say. The Me and My Money column has a strict word count. During the interview and in email exchanges, I provided more information than appeared in the final article. This gave Larry more details, which (I think) helped to improve the column.

I would have written a different article but mine would not have been as good: I lack objectivity and experience in journalism.


Journalists have deadlines. I did everything according to (and slightly ahead of) the schedule. Cooperating helps increase the chances of getting interviewed again.

Say Thanks

Getting interviewed is not a right. Be thankful. The best way is to see what would help the writer. Attention can't hurt. I featured Larry in a blog post about the interview and included his contact info at the bottom. I was already following him on Twitter. We're now connected on LinkedIn too. I'll think of other possible interviewees for his column.


Promod Sharma has been interviewed in various publications such as The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Canadian Business Journal and specialty publications. You'll find details on his LinkedIn profile in the Publications section.

August 5, 2012

Introverts Can Speak: The Case Of Susan Cain

Susan Cain live at TEDby Promod Sharma, CC

Do you need some time ... on your own?
Do you need some time ... all alone?
- Guns N' Roses. November Rain

Are you an introvert? That need not handicap you in public speaking. You can overcome your fears. Susan Cain did for her TED Talk based on her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Amazon link).

The Power Of Introverts

Let’s watch and then discuss.

If you didn't know that Susan’s an introvert, could you tell? I couldn’t.

As a Toastmaster, what changes would you suggest Susan make? I didn’t see anything major. Susan smiles. Her audience laughs. She pauses. She speaks clearly. Her talk is well structured. She looks natural and at ease. She creates mystery with her prop, a bag. Susan engages the audience and makes them comfortable. She moves around smoothly.

A minor quibble: I found her hand movements a tad repetitive on video but that was probably fine for the large, live audience.

The Reality

Susan looks like she’s in control and never really had problems speaking in public. That’s not the case.
“I’m told my talk received a standing ovation. My husband keeps asking what it felt like, after all the Sturm und Drang. The truth is I don’t know. I have no memory of the moment — I was too numb. That was someone else up there: my metamorphosed incarnation, the Public Introvert.“
--- Susan Cain, An Introvert Steps Out (New York Times, April 2012)
Does that surprise you?

In a fascinating article, Susan candidly explains how she prepared for her TED Talk. Joining Toastmasters was part of her process.

The Book

If you like the TED Talk, get Quiet. Susan’s book goes into much more detail. You’ll benefit even if you're an extrovert because we all know introverts.

I'm currently listening to the audio version. The narrator (Kathe Mazur) reminds me of Carolyn McCormick, who read a very different and less satisfying book, The Hunger Games. Maybe that’s because many books are narrated by men — even The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGongial (Amazon link).

I’m surprised that Susan didn’t narrate her own book. She certainly can since she speaks so well on stage. Maybe next time she will.


Promod Sharma is an introvert. Aren't most actuaries? He enjoys speaking but prefers writing. That’s why you’ll find 500+ blog posts and 180+ podcasts but only 14 videos.