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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Keep Your Flourishes Coming

Speakers also get support from devices such as humor, rhetorical questions, and compliments or challenges directed toward the audience. Whether used separately or as part of an example, an analogy, or another element, these attention-getters serve to startle. They make the audience sit up and take notice, and they allow you to observe the cardinal rule of speaking: Never be boring.

A good speaker will insert some lively support every three to four minutes to keep audience involvement high and to recapture attention. A speech should be made up of a series of peaks and valleys: The peaks are the places where the speaker inserts supporting material; the valleys are the natural lows between new bits of material that make the peaks possible.

Most speakers start strong, and then plummet as they move toward the conclusion, where the excitement builds and the final point is made. But chances are that what came in the middle will be lost.

The most effective speech travels an interesting path, guiding the audience along through each section with introductions, transitions, and conclusions. Supporting material will be frequent but not so overpacked that it slows down the journey. Momentum is steady and sure, climbing up to a memorable conclusion.

The world is filled with support for your presentations. Look around, keep lists of things that strike you as appropriate, and remember to use examples to make your points effectively. Carry around a little black book to jot down support as it occurs to you. Make it an ongoing quest; you should always be looking for examples.

When we tell stories, our voices naturally become animated. Once you have amassed your support, the next step is to really use your voice, raising and lowering it for variety. Your voice is an instrument that can be used to keep your audience interested, an advantage the next chapter covers in detail.


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