Toastmaster Time TV Speech: A Tale of Two Cities

Earlier this month I spent an evening in the Palo Alto Community TV studios being filmed for the monthly Toastmaster Time TV production. This long-running show features speeches by members of different San Francisco Bay Area Toastmasters clubs. Archived speeches go back to 1997.

Delivering a speech in a TV studio

I’d given my speech, A Tale of Two Cities, a couple of times before at different Toastmaster Club meetings. I thought I knew it well enough and felt comfortable with the content. However, being in the studio was a new and totally different experience. Not only was there the darkened room with the bright lights in my face and the camera angles to become comfortable with (“speak to the red light as if it is a person”), there was also the challenge of projecting myself into the fish-eye lens of the camera versus the responsive face of a member of an audience.

Dealing with two cameras was a challenge – I wanted to make a seamless transition from one camera to another and not be caught looking at the wrong lens. Watching for the red light was something that takes getting used to.

There was also the “hurry up and wait” aspect to sitting in the studio for over two hours while the producer assembled the volunteer crew, arranged the lights and resolved all the technical issues. Then, suddenly, it was time to deliver the speech without a teleprompter or notes. I thought I’d remember the content. I was wrong.

I hit the main points with one glaring exception. My close depended on an earlier reference to the smells of Paris: the Gauloise cigarettes, the garlic and the girls perfume. But when I reached the end I suddenly realized I’d forgotten to set this up. C’est la vie.

Lessons learned

Learning to present on camera is a skill that takes practice, my first attempt made me realize just how many pieces of the puzzle need to be in place for it to look natural. Being a part of Toastmaster Time gave me a deep appreciation for what the executives I support in my day job go through when they are on camera. Providing notes on a comfort monitor or card is essential. Schedule sufficient time before the broadcast for a run through. I’d recommend speechwriters and executive communications managers give a speech in a TV studio in order to appreciate the challenge clients face.

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment


It was a fine job. There were a couple hesitations that surprised me but, for the most part, it was very well done. The lack of setup for your conclusion wasn’t critical. The fact that you hadn’t already mentioned the smells didn’t take away from their introduction in the conclusion. I enjoyed it again.



Like Joy said, you did a great job! Congratulations!! Can we expect to see you regularly on television at any time soon?


Enjoyed your talk, Ian. When I tried to get to Paris in 1968, the truckers nationwide were on strike, rioting was rampant and tourists were discouraged. I still want to get to Paris and more so after this talk.


1968 would not have been a good time to visit Paris. Hope you make it there some day.


Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



eight + 6 =