What is Speechcraft? Am I correct – that is what I heard you ask?

Speechcraft is a training programme offered by Toastmasters to non-Toastmasters. It is a programme that covers the basic skills of public speaking. Like the Toastmasters programme, it teaches through practice. The Speechcraft programme may include four, six or eight sessions.

For the first time District 74 has a dedicated Speechcraft Coordinator this year in the person of Robin Prowse. Transformers indicated to Robin that we were eager to present a Speechcraft programme and Robin introduced us to Diesel-Electric. Diesel-Electric have been running Speechcraft programmes for their staff for several years and their Sale Director, Fred Bengsch, reports a discernible difference between staff who have completed the programme and those who have not.

On 4th October John-Peter Gernaat, Jim Powell, Keith Bowen and Glenice Ebedes met Robin at Diesel-Electric in Wynberg and were introduced to seven participants in the programme. During the next six weeks we coached these ‘Speechcrafters’ through impromptu speaking, the basic requirements of prepared speeches and the necessary listening skills to evaluate a prepared speech. The Speechcrafters introduced themselves in a prepared Icebreaker speech, then learned to overcome nervousness by speaking earnestly about a subject they were knowledgeable about. Thereafter the lessons in public speaking began as the Speechcrafters had to organize their speeches with an opening, a body consisting of sequential points and a conclusion, which rounds off the speech. The penultimate speech enabled the Speechcrafters to practise gestures, body movement and body language as an integral part of a speech. For the final speech they combined everything they had learned into a speech in which they experimented with vocal variety – voice volume, pitch, quality and speaking rate as well as the use of pause.

As Monday followed Monday we as Toastmasters, with Mary Byrne and Ryan Ebedes joining in a few of the sessions, witnessed the Speechcrafters progressing in their speaking abilities. At the conclusion of the programme our Division H Governor, Jenny Shiers, Fred Bengsch of Diesel-Electric and Robin Prowse spoke to the Speechcrafters about the value of the skill of public speaking. These motivational speeches encouraged not only the Speechcrafters but also the Toastmasters in their commitment to this worthy craft.

Speechcraft is a programme through which Toastmasters clubs may charge a company a fee, which is also to the benefit of the club. This enables clubs to purchase a library of Toastmasters manuals, for example.

For Transformers Toastmasters Club this Speechcraft programme is intended as the first in an ongoing effort to spread the skills of public speaking, create awareness of Toastmasters and boost our coffers to the benefit of our club and its members.