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Educational hours

Posted by sleeplessinftwayne z4-5 IND (My Page) on
Wed, May 4, 05 at 3:13

Next month there will be a class available for MGs for public speaking. I wish they had offered it a long time ago. Other than info I got in a very short membership in Toastmasters I have been winging it. Tonight, I gave my fourth talk to a community group for this season and it's only May. I will take the class but I expect I will find out I have been doing everything wrong. Other than the fact that groups have asked me back, I am not sure how successful my programs are. What kind of feedback do you get that helps you do talks? What subjects do you use? What kind of format? The way I have been most comforable is to make the program into a two way discussion between me and the audience. Sometimes that can get me into problems with time. Tonight the questions asked streched the length to well over an hour and even then people came up afterward and asked more questions. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I had planned on 45 minutes and it was a small group. Sandy

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Educational hours

Sandy, if people from a small group weren't heading out the door as soon as you finished (or before!) I'd say your talk was successful! Obviously, what you had to say was interesting to the audience. The only suggestion I'd make would be to really try to keep to the time scheduled but tell them that you will be available afterward to answer questions that folks want to ask. That way if some of your audience has other obligations, they don't feel "trapped" into staying longer than planned but those who want to can stay longer.

The reluctance of your audience to let you go and the fact you keep being asked back are the best feedback you can get! Sometimes a person's natural ability and personality make their talks much more interesting than the most polished speaker can hope to be. I've found that most gardeners are really "down to earth people" (pun intended!) and enjoy a casual talk much more than something very formal and stuffy. Give them the basic information you're trying to get across and let them lead you where they feel they need additional info. Unless you're presenting a highly technical subject that they're only vaguely familiar with, they will be eager to ask questions and "pick your brain."

In other words, it sounds like you're doing just about everything right already. Maybe you should teach the public speaking class rather than take it!

RE: Educational hours

Hi Sandy I agree you are doing what your listeners want and your presentation is relaxed enough that they feel free to ask questions. The questions asked is your guide to shape your talk to their interests. Sometimes an attempt to follow a prescibed method of presentation has the effect of taking your relaxed, friendly, casual and humerous manner away. All I can add is when you are preparing your talk, stop and make a list(for your own use only)of goals you wish to accomplish in making your presentation. When your talk is over take a look at your list and see if you met your goals. Keep the list with goals met marked until next time. Al

RE: Educational hours

Thanks for the ego pumping. LOL! All of us can use some of that. My biggest worry seems to be avoiding talking down to some while talking over the heads of others. I think that gauging levels by the questions helps there but I'm never too sure. Where we live now it simply isn't possible to get constructive critisism. It totally baffles me how I can improve if the people I rely on to tell me I am full of it, tell me instead what a wonderful job I did. How in the world did this get to be the norm? Maybe some people need constant encouragement but I have my doubts. When I haven't done the project or talk up to some standard I really want to know or I may continue to screw it up. I have even told people I won't be offended but still get only 'feel good' responses. Even a suggestion I try doing something differently and why would be helpful.
I try to make up a handout that covers the main structure of the discussion. I use a copy of it with highlighted topics and phrases to keep track of what is being covered. I figure that way, even if I don't get to say the important points they have it on paper if they want to read it.
Sometimes I have written out the whole of a speech word for word. My DH says that is way too much and it isn't flexable enough. Maybe there is a happy medium??
What topics do you do that seem to be sucessful. I hate to stick to the same things that everyone does. I have done propagation, water gardening and ponds, container gardening, hydrangeas, spring gardening tips, art in the garden, gourds, selection and prep of materials for flower arranging (with Japanese arrangements included)and preparation and use of everlasting flowers. I hope to add bog gardening. I haven't done herbs, trees or insects. I'm not very interested there although I can do it in a pinch. Others have much better abilities there. The talks have been from 20 minutes to 3 hours. What are some subjects you are interested in discussing?
What kind of audio/visual items work best?

RE: Educational hours

I am always more critical of myself than anyone is in the audience.I was pleased to see you are doing a variety of subjects. I don't like to use audio/visuals unless the subject requires it in a classroom. I use it for pruning because it is the only way to bring a tree into the room. I do like as much hands on as possible. In a soils class I pass around samples of different soils. In a grafting class I pass around grafts in different stages of completion. Doing a class on tool maintenance I was asked "Are you not afraid of the linseed oil catching fire? When I recommended the use of boiled linseed oil I failed to mention it came already boiled. Next time I do that class I will bring a small can with the boiled on the lable. So you see if no one else is critical you can do it yourself! Al

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