How to A.C.E. Your Speech

How to A.C.E. Your Speech

Last week, Lindy MacLaine, the Second-Runner-Up in the 2020 first ever Virtual Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking, gave us a great workshop on “How To Become an A.C.E. at Virtual Speaking.” 

Take a look at the recording here: 

I learned a lot from her one hour workshop. “A.C.E.” stands for Authenticity, Cameras dos and don’ts, and Eye contact. 


When it comes to mastering authenticity, Lindy shared that it’s important to:

  1. know what message we’d like to share. 
  2. nail down the pace, rhythm, and pitch to best tell the story.
  3. write the speech to an audience member of one, instead of a crowd.

Cameras Dos and Don’ts

Many of us are working from home still due to the pandemic. The silver lining in this is that we have a great opportunity to practice speaking in front of a camera. Her advice on mastering how to speak in front of a camera is: 


  1. Have a busy background, because you’d like the audience to focus on you.
  2. Have a colored background that doesn’t accentuate your skin tone. 
  3. Have the camera angle set too high or too low from your eye level. Too high of a camera angle doesn’t help you leverage the full “stage”. Too low of a camera angle could come off as condescending, and honestly not too attractive when double-chins are shown. 


  1. Deliver the speech on your feet. 
  2. Move closer to the camera when you want to deliver a confession, a secret, or whisper something quiet. 
  3. Monitor the frame of the virtual screen and not move out of it when incorporating bold gestures.  
  4. Pin your own video on zoom to avoid visual hijack. When others join or make a noise, it can cause others to be spotlighted, instead of you. Pin yourself can eliminate distraction. 

Eye Contact 

Lindy shared three things to do to master eye contact. 

  1. Where to look 

Ever since we got into the virtual world early last year, I trained myself to look right into the camera on my computer. I learned through the workshop that my audience connects with me the most when I look one centimeter below the camera. Some other members in the workshop experienced that they needed to look one centimeter above the camera. 

  1. Practice with a buddy 

It’s also important to have a zoom buddy when you are practicing your speech. Sometimes our eyes can lose spark when we stare into the camera light too long. If you have a zoom buddy, that person can tell you when you are doing that and you can make changes accordingly. 

  1. Use a sticker with a human face on it 

We tend to warm up when we talk to a person, instead of an object. Lindy recommends that you cut out your practice buddy’s head and stick it right above or below the camera, depending on your best angle listed above. This way you feel more authentic, as if you were speaking to your practice buddy during the speech. 

It’s competition season for Toastmasters this time of the year. Lindy’s advice to all of the competitors is to uncover the champion speaker that you are. You don’t need to be like other champions because we are all different. 

Find a practice buddy that will be radically candid with you. Radical candor is about caring personally and challenging directly. Do you know how to give feedback so you don’t hurt others’ feelings? We CAN break free of a false dichotomy that leaves too many people feeling they have to choose between being a jerk and being an incompetent.

one hour workshop A.C.E, How to A.C.E. Your Speech

Come learn more about radical candor in our next club meeting on Wednesday Jan. 20th, 7-8:15 pm PST. 

one hour workshop A.C.E, How to A.C.E. Your Speech
one hour workshop A.C.E, How to A.C.E. Your Speech

Written by Renee Yao, President of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters 

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