Friday, October 16, 2009


Toastmasters is a world-wide nonprofit organization that builds communication and leadership skills and improves self-confidence. There are thousands of Toastmasters clubs all over the world. Several clubs comprise an Area; several Areas comprise a Division; several Divisions comprise a District. I'm currently the Eastern Division Governor for District 6, which covers all of Minnesota and part of Ontario.

A Toastmasters meeting includes evaluations of speakers. The evaluation is described as an oreo cookie. The idea is to say something good that the speaker did, then give a suggestion or two for improvement, then end with a few more positive comments.

Watch the video of Mark Dayton speaking in Burnsville, MN. Following the video I'll give my evaluation.

Mark has some strong speaking skills. His voice projection and volume are excellent. His gestures are right on target and enhance his speech. He's got good body language. His speech was well organized. It appealed to his audience. Mark made excellent points about the government of Minnesota and what he would do to change things if he became governor. He got to the point without rambling on about other topics. His word usage was very good. He used some wonderful anecdotes. He had the right amount of vocal variety. Mark Dayton doesn't speak in a monotone and thus doesn't bore his audience. He had excellent eye contact with the audience. His speech was obviously well researched. The intent of his speech was to persuade his audience to vote for him. I think he accomplished this successfully.

A couple of suggestions for improvement: Mark should work on his overuse of crutch words such as ah, um, er and you know. I would recommend that he join a Toastmasters club in order to overcome this habit that most people have. Using crutch words is annoying to the audience. I'd like to see Mark start using pauses instead of the unnecessary crutch words. Secondly, Mark could make better use of the floor space. He could try moving around a bit more. The only other recommendation I have is that the addition of a prop or illustration would be beneficial to the audience. In the case of this particular speech, a graph or two might be helpful to demonstrate to the audience the tax statistics and the MN unemployment statistics.

One other minor detail is that Mark used the word podium instead of lectern. A podium is what the band or choir director stands on. A lectern is the object in the front of the room that the speaker stands behind or to the side of.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Mark's speech. I feel that he was right on target with the issues. I agreed with his ideas of how he would change Minnesota for the better. I look forward to hearing more speeches by Mark Dayton.

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