How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint

David Phillips is the founder of (Swedish) as well as the author of How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint, a book published in more than 30 countries. In 2014, he delivered a TEDx talk in Stockholm, Sweden by the same name, in which he outlines five principles for delivering impactful, enjoyable presentations:

  1. One message per slide
  2. Working memory
  3. Size
  4. Contrast
  5. Number of objects per slide

Project: Role Nameplates

In Spirited Speech Masters’ weekly meetings, we use nameplates for two purposes:

  1. To identify members who are fulfilling a specific role and
  2. To allow members to quickly identify and claim unfilled roles before we convene.

We previously used sheets of printed card stock folded so that they would sit upright, but over time and much use, these nameplates became worn around the edges.

A few of our assembled nameplates, printed in Blue

To create something more colorful and long-lasting, we invested $35 of club funds into a set of acrylic nameplate holders (8.5-inches wide x 3.5-inches high) and designed nameplates in Toastmasters-appropriate colors to slip inside. In case there are any other Toastmasters chapters that are interested in an inexpensive and easy project to add polish to their meetings, I’m sharing the size-appropriate PDFs for these nameplates:

Using Writing Prompts to Improve at Table Topics

300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly

Looking for a way to improve at delivering compelling table topic speeches? Try a writing prompt notebook like this one from Piccadilly. Each lined page has 1-2 brief prompts along the lines of what you might expect to encounter in a table topics session during a Toastmasters meeting. Flip through, pick a prompt (or throw literary caution to the wind and select one randomly) then write out a half to full page response. To ensure you focus on impromptu thinking, try not to pause during your writing (the process of writing already provides a built-in delay). And try to resist the urge to wordsmith since this isn’t something you’re generally able to do when speaking extemporaneously.

This type of exercise is great because it’s easily portable and can be done on your own, i.e. when you’re jonesing for your next meeting, but it’s still six days away!

How to Give a Great Speech Evaluation

When people think of Toastmasters, the first thing that usually comes to mind is giving speeches. And while we are certainly focused on developing our oratory skills, we also develop the ability to evaluate speakers. A good evaluation provides valuable feedback — delivered in a supportive and constructive manner — to help a speaker continue development.

Jonathan Peng is the winner of the 2017 District 85 Evaluation Contest. In the video below, he gives tips on how to deliver a stronger, more compelling evaluation, including emphasizing that an evaluation shouldn’t necessarily be delivered solely to the speaker but should make an effort to make the audience feel included, as well.

7 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using

Charismatic speakers often use hand gestures to reinforce their intended message. Here is a short (7 minute) video showing seven different hand gestures you can incorporate when speaking.

Learn more about the effective use of hand gestures when speaking at 20 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using.

About the Author: Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best-selling author and behavioral investigator with the web site Science of People.