Since I’ve covered all the advanced manuals that I’ve actually done, I thought I’d talk about the basic manual. The Competent Communication manual has 10 speeches (twice as many as the advanced manuals) that cover the basics of public speaking. Most of them are only 5-7 minutes long; the first is a little shorter and the last a little longer.
The first project doesn’t have any particular focus other than survival (for those of us who started out very nervous) and getting a baseline so you know what you need to work on. The next three projects are about constructing a speech: organizing it, having a clear message, and expressing yourself clearly (word choice etc.).
The next few projects cover speaking techniques: body language and gestures, vocal variety, researching your topic, using visual aids. Finally, there are two projects about specific types of speeches: persuasive and inspiring.
This is a good introduction to speaking. It was enough practice to make me more comfortable in front of an audience and pick up a few new skills along the way. I’d like to go back and do the manual again and focus on each project, since the first time through I was more concerned with just getting through each speech instead of doing a good job.
Also, if you are in Toastmasters: read the end of this manual. The last 20 or so pages have a lot of information about the communication and leadership programs, the meeting roles and officer positions, and tips about Toastmasters and speaking in general (like coming up with topics).