Three Lessons

One: Respect the audience’s time. For my first speech, I took 13 minutes for a 4–6 minutes speech! I had never felt so guilty. I had learned that ‘meeting time’ spent by a group is actually the meeting’s duration multiplied by the number of attendees.

Two: Use effective body language. Watching people speak on- and off-stage within and outside Toastmasters, I found that stage usage and body language have an enormous effect on the audience. This is consistent with my belief that 80% of inter-personal communication happens through body language. We connect deeply with performances that are even slightly dramatic. This is probably why people would prefer a movie to a lecture.

Just like a movie’s ‘establishment shot’ before a scene sets the context, telling the audience the time and place of an event helps them easily imagine themselves in that context.

Three: Judge a person’s actions, not the person. Participating in speech contests as a contestant, judge, and a member of the audience, I found that an objective judge compares aspects of the speech to a list of predetermined parameters and ignores aspects of the speaker that are not related to the particular speech. If you are not judging objectively, a lot of the content you react to or think about has probably already been influenced by your previous knowledge of the speaker’s personality.

If I use this to answer, ‘What conditions determine whether a court case must be heard by a judge, a bench or a jury?’, I understand that the harder it is to remain objective in a case, the more members there are in a jury. We can infer something about the objectivity in a case from the size of the jury.