May 22

My Third Toastmasters Speech

Yesterday I wrote about tips for how to succeed in Project 3 of the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual – Get to the Point. Below I’ve posted the speech I used for this project.


      How many of you guys have a blackberry, iphone, android, or some other type of mobile device?  Then you may know what I’m talking about here.  Have you ever had that experience, where you leave your cell phone at home, and you go through the entire day feeling like you’d left a body part at home?  When I attended my first toastmasters meeting, the first speech I heard was entitled “Are we addicted to technology”, and I think the general consensus was “Yes, we are addicted to technology”.  Today I want to discuss why we should start to wean ourselves out of this addiction, and how we can do so one device at a time, starting with the cell phone.

The first step to treating any addiction is recognizing that you have a problem, and while most of us may admit that, sure, we’re addicted to technology, many of us don’t see it as that big of a deal.  In fact, often we wear our technology addictions as a badge of honor.  Many times I’ve heard people proudly proclaim, “Oh, I’m so addicted to my phone. I can’t live without it. It’s like air.”  Can you imagine someone proudly making the same statement about any other addiction?, for example, crack.  “Oh, I’m so addicted to my crack. I can’t live without it. It’s like air.”  We may not think technology addiction is a big deal, but I’m telling you that it is a big deal.  We’ve all heard and seen the ads warning about the dangers of texting and driving, so I’m not going to bore you by rehashing those statistics.  But I’m going to give you several good reasons why it might be worthwhile to lesson our technology addictions.


Reason 1 – we should not be slaves to our devices.  Have you heard the story of the 32-year old man from California who was following his GPS directions when he turned onto a train track, got stuck as a fast-moving train approached, and had to abandon his rental car.  He made it out ok, but the car was destroyed.  The response from a AAA representative was that the GPS had clearly not given the correct instructions, but, and I’m not quoting, “If your GPS told you to drive off a cliff, would you do it.”  A lot of our devices exist to assist us with making decisions, not for us to abandon our own logic and blindly follow.


Reason 2 – we should observe the world around us.  Have you ever seen anyone nearly walk into a pole because he was too busy texting, or have you yourself narrowly avoided bumping into someone or something because you were too busy texting (it’s ok, you can admit it!). A study was done at a college campus in which they had a guy dress up in a clown outfit and ride around on a unicycle for an hour around a prominent sculpture. Many of the students who were engaged in phone conservations (either talking or texting) completely missed the clown, even as they walked right past him.


Reason 3 – the time we spend on our devices could be put to use doing something else.  Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn a new language or develop a new hobby, such as painting, but you just don’t have the time.  According to a recent survey the average adult spends about 45 per cent of his waking hours either online, on the phone, or watching television.  To put that into perspective, if you’re awake for an average of 15 hours a day, then about 7 hours daily is spent consuming technology.  In that time you could have become the next Picasso!



Reason 4 – health benefits.  Have you heard the rumors/warnings that cell phones might cause cancer?  While there are no definitive links between cell phones and cancer, the truth is that scientists have not definitively ruled it out either.  So why not play it safe and decrease your time on the potentially cancer-causing device?



OK, so I’ve given you a few good reasons why you might want to try to detach your phone from your hip for a few minutes a day, but how can you possibly do it. Here are a few simple things that you can try doing today.

  1. Try turning off your phone when you go to lunch/dinner or better yet, don’t even bring it with you. Your companion will appreciate your attentiveness and conversational skills.
  2. Have a designated “no technology” time, or perhaps a “technology-free” zone in your house. You can decide that there will be no technology allowed at the dinner table, for example.
  3. Turn your cellphone off at night. Many of us already don’t get enough sleep as it is. Is that drunken text from your buddy at 3am really worth losing precious minutes of sleep? Unless you’re a doctor or have some other very urgent need to be accessible, it’s best to go “off the grid” at night. Trust me, you’ll sleep better.

Technology is a huge part of our daily lives and it has forever changed the ways we interact with the world and each other.  While I honestly don’t expect anyone here to actually throw their blackberry out the window (as that could be dangerous and could get you into trouble), I do hope that I’ve presented a few good arguments for why we should attempt to limit our growing dependence on technology where possible. The next time you’re out for a drive, I hope that you’ll remember the gentleman in California who let his GPS lead him astray, or that you’ll look up when texting so that you don’t end up like the students at Western Washington University who let a unicycling clown ride circles around them.  And hopefully you’ll find a time during the day when you can simply turn your cellphone off and just enjoy life.

This was a fun speech to give. My message was pretty clear, so I achieved the objective of this project, which was to get to the point. With two previous speeches already under my belt, I felt a little more comfortable with this one and it showed in my delivery. I guess practice really does make perfect! I also decided to try doing something new, so I brought pictures to illustrate each of my main points (some of them are shown above). Check out my guide to your first 10 Toastmasters speeches for more Toastmasters guidelines or general speaking tips.

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