Do you dread having to speak on the spot? Probably yes. Can you formulate an instant and intelligent, response to a question? Probably not. Few people can. Yet, this is an incredible skill to have and a great confidence booster to develop. Toastmasters develop this skill with an activity called Table Topics. During Table Topics, speakers must answer in one to two minutes a question they are asked on the spot. I recently gave a workshop on how to use the rainbow in Table Topics and impromptu speeches easily and cited the Toastmasters 2016 District 59 winner, Barbara Kondilis, as an example of how a full rainbow with red emotion, orange energy, yellow joy, green hope, blue vision, indigo depth and purple soul can be produced.
Here is Barbara’s winning speech from the Toastmasters District 59 Mad, Fun, Sun conference in Madrid in November 2016.
Let’s run through how the seven Speak-the-Rainbow colors appear in her reply to the prompt ” Darling, I have a confession to make.” Barbara wrote me last week that her first reaction to this prompt was a desire to say, “That’s it?”
Her surprise was in fact a good thing as her spontaneous and very visible reaction to the unusual prompt produces a crowd connection even before her speech begins. This spontaneity creates purple as she reveals to the audience that she is vulnerable and in the moment. She continues this purple connection by taking a pause to gather herself.
Then she opens with a bold orange gesture and a soft purring voice which demonstrates the orange energy of vocal variety.
Suddenly she says…”OMG that’s what he said last night,” and this plunges the audience into a story. Stories create red emotional connections. Notice that she moves to new place on stage and gives her story a location. She immediately captures our interest with a serious of intriguing thoughts, “I wonder what that means… Did he get off his diet? Did he quit his job?” However, once red emotion is excited in her audience’s imagination, Barbara abandons her story thread and moves again. She adds more orange body language and the exaggerated “Darling” which is almost sung, thus showing more vocal variety.
The “Finally” she adds after “I’m going to ask you to marry me” is ironic and gets a laugh. This is yellow joy. Like a comedian, she waits for the applause and laughter to subside. When comedians pause, they allow the audience’s reaction to fill the room and connect back to them in a powerful loop. This moment of vulnerabilty is the purple counterpart to yellow humor provoked by words or actions.
Then we hear for the first time her deep serious voice as she gives us “Whenever men say the word Darling you know they mean business.” This adds indigo depth to her speech and gives the impression that there is some serious content here we should be attentive to. A deep voice is a powerful tool which both men and women need to use to expand their range of connection.
Barbara next twists this serious line into joy with irony in her voice and the, “And then they just throw it at you” gets a big laugh. Joy fills her speech and she works the crowd’s joy by asking the green “you-focused” question to the audience, “How many women in the audience?”.
She does not worry about the answer to her question and goes to another place and adds more yellow humor by playing on well-known stereotypes of bad women drivers and mothers-in-law visiting.
Then she she concludes with a short final statement which begins by blue vision. By offering advice, she establishes her personal “I” vision of things: “So in general, I must say I recommend we (the “we” here is green as it directly involves the audience) use this word wisely (notice the burst of orange gestures) at Mad, Fun and Sun.”
Barbara cleverly finished on words which evoke joy in the participants. What could be more joyful than sun and fun? She wraps her speech up perfectly with words which communicate JOY.
The time of her speech is approximately 1 minute and 40 seconds. Did Barbara say anything memorable? Certainly not! Did she say it in a memorable way? Certainly yes! Because Barbara gave her audience all the colors in the rainbow and blended them seamlessly into a short and very captivating moment which dazzled and delighted the audience and judges.
Like Barbara, you have the ability to accept the “flow” of the moment and let your colors appear as you make impromptu speeches. To help you expand your rainbow speaking skills, I will send you my workshop handout which explains the 7 ways to start a Table Topic speech if you sign up for my blog.