Speech Writing – Foundational Phrase

In my mind, the term Foundational Phrase comes from the Toastmasters 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking, Craig Valentine. I discovered Craig’s wealth of wisdom as I entered the Toastmasters 2013 International Speech Contest and competed at the Semi-finals level.

Now, in 2019, I’m revisiting how to craft a Foundational Phrase. Here are the resources I’ve found.

One of Craig Valentine’s famous Foundational Phrases is “Your dream is not for sale.” In his speech, Craig has his wife make this statement via dialog. Importantly, this also makes her the hero – not him.

In Darren LaCroix’s article How Sticky Are Your Stories? he says, “One huge mistake I see in the speaking world is the lack of an original Foundational Phrase. This is a big mistake. If you care about your message and your audience, make the time.”

“Don’t just take the time; make the time!”

In Henk van den Bergen’s article, Foundational Phrase, he asks, “Does your Foundational Phrase clearly promote your point or message”?

Aside: Story Structure by Henk van den Bergen

WIP 010 - Coffeehouses, Sacramento Mural, Mom's Shoes, Toastmasters Jonathan Faridian, Thyroid Meds

WIP 010 – Coffeehouses, Sacramento Mural, Mom’s Shoes, Toastmasters Jonathan Faridian, Thyroid Meds

Work in Progress (WIP) 010

  • Spotted my brother, Lance, out and about
  • Modeling workbook
  • Crowd at Philz Coffee at Ice Blocks in Midtown Sacramento, CA
  • Muscle Milk
  • Fuller Poles public art (16th & Q in Sacramento, CA)
  • Building mural by Drew Merritt (alley side of 2020 J St, Sacramento, CA)
  • My Mom (known as Mrs.Walley to her fans) teaches me a little French, and raves about her new aqua shoes
  • Nighttime laser lights
  • Insight Coffee Roasters on 16th Street in Sacramento, CA
  • Meeting RJ, Barista at Philz Coffee at Ice Blocks in Midtown Sacramento, CA
  • Jonathan Faridian practicing his 2018 Toastmasters International Speech Contest speech, and receiving club member’s feedback, at Capital City Toastmasters #142
  • Reebok dumbbells
  • Zen War Kanji t-shirt designs
  • Thyroid medication at Safeway


Popping in to Philz Coffee (hi Jessica Aliganga) & Insight Coffee Roasters (hi Avolyn Fisher) in Sacramento, CA. Packing a Muscle Milk ready-to-drink protein shake as part of the daily routine. Transferring CDs to the Mac. Interview with Websauce Studio owner Adam Weil. Getting stopped by Black Lives Matter protesters in front of the California State Capitol. Visiting the Toastmasters District 39 Area 52/53 International Speech contest in downtown Sacramento (congrats on the 1st-place win Tobias Stockler). And picking up multivitamins at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op.

Speaking to Win: A Panel of Champions

Had an AWESOME time answering audience member’s questions and hearing my fellow panelist’s insightful answers at the 2017 Toastmasters District 39 Fall Conference Speaking to Win: A Panel of Champions Educational Session.

Panel speakers: Keerthi Karnati, Donnie Crandell, Jeffrey Purtee, Reid Walley, John Davis
Moderator: David Goad
Conference: Toastmasters 2017 District 39 Fall Conference
Event: Educational Session
Location: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe, Stateline, CA
Date: November 11, 2017

Speaking to Win - A Panel of Champions - 2017 Toastmasters District 39 Fall Conference
Reid Walley - Toastmasters 2017 District 39 Fall Conf - Speaking to Win Panel - Pic 1
Reid Walley - Toastmasters 2017 District 39 Fall Conf - Speaking to Win Panel - Pic 2

Confidence Training for Pilates Instructors

P2O Hot Pilates & Fitness co-founder Lindy Hobbs made a very smart business decision when she expanded her business: include public speaking & confidence training as part of her Pilates Instructor training curriculum.

Lindy understood the power of Toastmasters‘s public speaking training and wanted to offer that confidence to her future Pilates Instructors. She contacted Capital City Toastmasters in 2015 – and I’ve been leading her Pilates Instructors through a 2-hour hands-on public speaking workshop twice a year ever since.

“Reid is entertaining and does a great job at helping bring our future Instructors out of their shell, and feel more comfortable speaking and expressing themselves in front of a group. Reid has been a great addition to our Teacher Training program!” – Lindy Hobbs

A common question from previous workshops bubbled to the surface during our most recent workshop:

“How do I overcome beating myself up when I make a mistake?”

And we generated an answer:

“Instead of wasting 5 hours beating yourself up over the mistake, the technique we came up with was to go home and spend that time physically writing down the solution for next time. Then standing and physically practicing the solution out loud. And the mantra is to replace the ‘I feel crushed’ with ‘be better next time.'”

If you’d like to empower your Pilates Instructors with more confidence in front of their students, add my 2-hour hands-on Public Speaking & Confidence Workshop to your instructor training. Hit me up.

Public Speaking & Confidence Workshop for P2O Hot Pilates & Fitness Pilates Instructors - Oct 14 2017 - 01 Public Speaking & Confidence Workshop for P2O Hot Pilates & Fitness Pilates Instructors - Oct 14 2017 - 02

Going Off Script Can Have Devastating Results

In a Toastmasters speech contest, you can disqualify yourself by going under-or-over-time! Toastmasters’ International (inspirational/motivational) speech contest allows you to speak for 5-7 minutes – with 30 seconds of leeway. IE: you’re technically good from 4-minutes-and-30-seconds to 7-minutes-and-30-seconds. But if you end your speech at 4:29 or 7:31, you’re disqualified. I’ve seen it happen to my competitors. And it’s devastating!

During last year’s 2016 District 39 Spring Conference in Stockton, CA, Donny Crandell won first place in the International Speech contest (I came in 2nd). He went on to compete and win at the Semifinals round, and was 1 of 10 people, worldwide, that competed on the big 100-foot-wide stage in the Finals round – the World Champion of Public Speaking contest.

This year, Donny and I chatted during the District 39 Spring Conference in Anderson, CA, where we were competitors again. He shared his story of going overtime by 6 seconds when he was competing on the big stage last year. “I blew it,” he said. “I went overtime by 6 seconds.” “Did you ad-lib anything,” I asked. “Yep.” he said. “I went off script and added the Serenity Prayer at the very end of my speech.”

The international speech contest season is from February to August. Seven months. It’s a lot of work, sacrifice, time away from family, extra time before and/or after work. And it’s not a paid gig. You volunteer. So going overtime by 6 seconds can be devastating – especially at the Final round in front of an International audience of 2,500 people. All that hard work, luck, time, and travel…

Going off script CAN work, but it’s such a coin-toss. You have no idea if you’re gonna land on heads or tails.

Losing vs Loser

Has your favorite sports team ever lost? Losing is part of the game. All hail the game!

I lost this weekend’s District 39 Toastmasters International speech contest at the District level (round 4 of 6). Didn’t even place. And when the top-three winner’s were announced, and I wasn’t one of them, I was immediately handed two options:

1. Bewildered

2. Be grateful

Rich Hopkins: “It’s ok to be both.”
Me: “As long as I firmly land on Be Grateful as soon as possible, then I can move forward with extreme freedom.”

John McCain: “In your opinion, what made the winning speech better?”
Me: “Keerthi Karnati‘s District-winning speech (at District 39’s 2017 Spring Conference) was simply a deeper, heart-felt, funny, scary, well-presented speech. And only Be Grateful allows me to see that clearly.”

Michael Stephens: “I don’t think it’s that you’ve “lost”; I just think it’s that someone else “won”… great job:)”
Me: “I firmly believe in meritocracy. I also believe in losing as a normal part of living – everyone should not get a trophy. That’s one thing I like about Toastmasters, there are clear distinctions between trophy and no trophy. Like winning, losing is equally a natural possible outcome of participating.”

Robin Robinson: “Next topic, sportsmanship and being a good player. Competing with dignity, and dealing with the outcome graciously, is a worthwhile skill. And you did that. Bravo.”
Me: “Sportsmanship is a big deal to me. I’m all for analysing my own loss, but pointing fingers is definitely not cool. So, yeah, sportsmanship has huge value.”

Losing vs Loser

Losing is part of honing one’s craft. The loser stops honing.

(To move forward) I must be willing to admit that I lost

I have to admit that I lost the speech contest in order to re-calculate my destination. Losing a speech contest and turning down the wrong street are the same. They both require self-realization and re-calculation. I feel a certain freedom when I look in the mirror and accept my loss. Owning it is liberating!